I started running again, here in the Georgia woods, and I love it. Mushrooms, moss, flowers, and spiderwebs sing quiet songs. Ducks, deer, and dogs accompany me. My favorite trees feel like friends, and the familiar curves in the path are a comfort. It’s where God and I have most of our talks.
Me: This is so beautiful, God. Thank you.
God: I’m so glad you like it. I love you.
Me: I love you, too.
Me: What do you want from me, God?
God: I only want what you have.
Me: I feel like I don’t have much at all.
God: What brings you joy?
Me: I don’t know what brings me joy.
God: I know it’s hard.
Me: I’m trying.
God: I know. I love you.
Joy is hard for me to find. It’s not what anxious, depressed people are known for. I found it when I started surrendering. It’s different, almost rebellious, and I like it. This entanglement of surrender with joy is changing how I see God.
God isn’t mad at me, and he isn’t mean. While he shapes my heart through pain and the rigors of my obedience, he also shapes it with joy. He doesn’t just want my contrite heart. He wants my joyful heart, and all the new things I’m finding there, like everyday gratefulness, obvious sacrifices, secret confessions, and quiet beauty. He loves me, and I truly want to love him. I want to give him what I have.
Me: I’m not sure if this is what you’re thinking, God, but Words bring me joy.
Me: So what do you want me to do with that?
God: “In the beginning was the Word...”
Me: Ha ha.
I love words. Their beauty, power, and range. The right metaphor can carry me through months of darkness. I’ve always loved reading. I started writing in 2nd grade. I studied literature in college, crafted communications in consulting, post too much on Facebook, and tell long stories over dinner. I have words, and they bring me joy. I want to try to give those to God.
Me: So, even though I’m an introvert, I like people. Especially broken ones.
God: Me too.
Me: I feel deep joy when I help someone understand how much you love them.
God: Me too.
I really want people to know they are not alone and deeply loved. I like encouraging people to own who the are, use their voice, and receive God’s relentless love for them. I love laughing about the absurd things I’ve tried and failed. I find myself scribbling word pictures on grocery lists and calendars.
God: I love you. It’s time to start writing.
Me: No thanks. Too scary.
God: Remember the Chicken Dance?
Me: That was different.
God: Not really.
Dancing in a chicken suit at Greta’s bus stop was so weird, embarrassing, and different for me. But I did it. It was a big surrender. And it brought a lot of unexpected joy. It was a good story that made people feel happy, hopeful, and loved.
I talked with God about writing when I ran in the woods, trying to figure out what that looked like for me. I needed a little project to help me learn “how to write.” In August I did the little project of not drinking at all for the entire month. I learned a lot by doing one new thing for a set amount of time.
I decided that I would write everyday in October on the same topic, and just like the Chicken Dance, I would post it online. It felt like promising to post a daily picture of myself in my underwear. I chose to write about Surrender.
All month I wrote about faith, danger, birth, anxiety, shame, and pain and how those things impacted my marriage, parenting, and friendships. I surrendered my stories. I can only give what I have.
Some days I felt misunderstood and I wanted to press delete and hide. Other days I sat stunned when friends and strangers said my words were a gift to their hearts. I found a little joy every time I sat at the laptop, alone and quiet with words and God, seeing how he’s loved me my whole life.
My October writing experiment is over, but I have more stories. I want to keep surrendering in this new way. I think more joy is coming.
Thank you for joining me.
Yesterday’s story of Surrender: You Gotta Be You (Halloween)
I’m humbled that this exploration of Surrender brought 11k+ views to this blog. The most popular posts were Wrecked, Bullies, Kintsukuroi, Ugly Americans, Held, and What I Did Over Summer Vacation. Thank you so much for sharing them.
For more about our shared spiritual journey and questions, you can read here: Soul
© Aimee Fritz and Family Compassion Focus, 2015.