The Long Surrender

My last column was about wasting time—accomplishing too little with the time I’m given.

It has been a busy spring and summer. Our youngest son graduated, a new grandbaby arrived, and three of our children are relocating in preparation for a new phase of life. We have a grad party in the works, vacation plans, work and home projects, and all the ordinary, day-to-day stuff.

Often I cope well with our busy-ness—remembering with gratitude that we are juggling blessings. But sometimes stress and anxiety get the better of me. With so much to do, I rush around barking orders and straining to make everything go according to plan.

Whose plan? Mine of course; the one in my head. This was the plan for July:

  • Week 1: Enjoy time with friends and family, then finish work and home projects
  • Week 2: Travel to Texas to visit friends, then to Bismarck for our grandson’s Baptism.
  • Week 3: Prepare for and host Trevor’s grad party.
  • Week 4: Travel for Michigan to visit my parents.

Work and home life are a given, of course, so they are not listed—as though they take no time at all.

Week 1 went well; still could feel stress seeping in as the days ticked off faster than my priorities. But last Saturday—the day before we were to leave for Texas—was perfect: sunny and not too hot, with nothing but time to take charge of The List. Jodi and I got groceries and some new flowers and plants for the yard. Trevor and I cut and hauled brush. I fed the reseeded portion of our lawn and weeded an unkempt flower bed, then began placing the new flowers in preparation for planting.

As I reached from the edge of the flower bed to set a coneflower in its place, something shifted near the base of my spine. A white flash of pain brought me to my hands and knees; I was gasping, sweating, unable to move. I hollered for Trevor, who was in the house; his headphones prevented him from hearing. The girls had left for a baby shower, so I remained on all fours, catching my breath and slowly inching my body back over my haunches in hopes that I would be able to rise.

Eventually I stood, bent at the waist, and waddled to the house. The more I moved, the more individual muscles in my back, hips, and glutes pulled into tight little knots to stabilize my lower back. I tried to rest. By the time I went to bed, I was using a tall walking stick and shuffling my feet to keep from toppling over.

The next morning, I was clearly not going to Texas. I couldn’t stand on my own and didn’t even make it to Mass. I sat home, instead, read the Sunday readings, and prayed. I could do little else.

The result? Relief and peace. Once I couldn’t possibly do all the things I had planned, I saw that none of them were as urgent as they seemed.

I write often about surrendering my time and gifts to God and trusting Him to do what’s best. But when push comes to shove, I can’t let go of the wheel. I try to push through and get it all done, at whatever cost. I can’t quit. I can’t slow down or let go.

So last Saturday, God gave me a nudge. Maybe He won’t have to try so hard next time.

This post appeared in the July 17 issue of the St. Michael Catholic Church bulletin.

One thought on “The Long Surrender

  1. Pingback: The Long Surrender, Part 2 | Archangel Stomp

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