I started this long story of Surrender on an airplane. I realized that I had life-changing faith not just in a flight crew of strangers but also in God. Hours later God leveraged that reclaimed faith by offering my husband a job that required a major move.
This new job was going to be in Georgia. I was hoping for the majestic Pacific Northwest, but instead we were given the sweaty Southeast.
Flashback 20 years, Chris and I are dating, dreaming big over schnitzel and knödel in the vineyards of Austria:
Chris: “I would love to do economic development in Cambodia, Thailand or Vietnam.”
Me: “I can’t do that. It’s too hot. I’m afraid of it being that hot.”
Chris: “But what if that’s what God calls us to do?”
Me: “I don’t think God would call us to do that. I never even want to move to the South in the States. It’s too hot and gross. No way.”
Chris: [secretly touches the engagement ring in his pocket and wonders if he can actually marry such a high-maintenance princess]
Me: [secretly begs God to let her marry Chris and never, ever have to live somewhere hot]
I am not a Southerner. I lived 35 of my 43 years in Chicagoland. I like winter, hard work, and “midwestern values.” My limited exposure to the south was from very vocal girls in the “Dixie Club” at my college with giant hair bows, shiny lip gloss, and coy accents that melted boys’ hearts. Add overt racism and swamps? That is absolutely not the place for me.
Chris had turned down a job with the same bank 18 months before. I was whole-heartedly relieved. They started calling again a week after God sent me the “2015: The Year of Living Dangerously” message. I should have seen the writing on the wall.
Every time they would call we had this conversation:
Chris: “Aim, they called again. What do you think? I don’t feel right about taking the call if there’s no chance of going.”
Me: “Oh gosh. I don’t have a peace about you saying No to the phone call. But I don’t want to move. I guess take this next call and see how it goes?”
Me: “I don’t want this to be The Job. I totally don’t want to move to Georgia.”
Chris: “Me neither.”
In the meantime I was quietly considering how God might be wanting a anxious mom of three intense kids to “live dangerously.” I researched, asked questions, prayed, and owned up to a long record of wrongs. My heart was slowly unfurling in the new freedom that came from surrendering my secrets to the God who loves me. I was growing in courage, but I thought that was just for me, to finally rest in a solid place of God-fueled self-acceptance.
I prayed “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done” about Chris’ job, but I didn’t always mean it. So I also prayed, “God, you know us. We can’t move. I don’t want to move. No one wants to move. Don’t do this to us.” But I didn’t really mean that either. I prayed all these things as I talked to my dearest daily friends, packed my bag for a trip to Atlanta, met the people at the new bank, and did some house hunting. We couldn’t find anything wrong with taking the job.
That weekend trip was the last stage of the full-press recruitment. They wanted an answer. By the end of the week. Chris and I knew with our heads that it was right to take the job, but our hearts were broken. So the week started like this:
Day 1: The Consultant: objectively read through all the pro-con lists Chris and I made, call Georgians, write out more questions
Day 2: The Friend: fast and pray with best friend for 6 hours, sit by her fire, chat, color and cry
Day 3: The Widow: face what the move would really mean, the end/deaths of many things, stay in pajamas 24 hours, cry all day, after kids get home turn on TV for them and cry in car in snowy driveway until Chris gets home
Day 4: The Beloved. I woke up with the giant headache that comes from crying too long, normally reserved for death and break-ups. I forced smiles through breakfast, hugs, and school send offs. I watched my innocent kids walk all the way into school until the door closed. Then I went home and had this conversation:
Me: “God, I can’t cry anymore. I’m exhausted. I can’t do this.”
God: “I love you.”
Me: “Thanks, but I don’t want to move and I’m in crisis.”
God: “You don’t have to move.”
God: “It’s your choice. I’m not sending you to war. You’re not being drafted. I’m not sending you to prison in Siberia. You’re not being punished. I’m offering you an invitation to join me in a new and beautiful thing in Georgia. Will you come?”
Me: “I’m scared.”
God: “I am the God who sees and knows you. I love you and your family fiercely, relentlessly, and completely. Will you come?”
I pictured a strong, southern gentleman extending a gold embossed invitation with his gloved hand and kind eyes. I let the words “new and beautiful thing” swell in my heart. Tiny flowers of peace and curiosity burst into bloom. And right there, I surrendered.
In the weeks that followed we told the kids we were moving and held them as they cried. We sold the Bluebird and bought Sweet River. We said hundreds of goodbyes. I held that golden invitation in my heart, and hoped it was true.
I will be unfolding this story and the idea of Surrender throughout the month of October.
Yesterday’s story of Surrender: My Surrender Begins
To read more about our shared spiritual journey and questions, you can read here: Soul
You are loved.
© Aimee Fritz and Family Compassion Focus, 2015.