I stepped off the ferry onto the dock. I was exhausted, nervous, and wondering what was about to transpire. Before me lay the rugged beauty of New Zealand. I had made it to Great Barrier Island, and what would be my home for the next 3 months.
I was acutely aware of my feelings and surroundings. From the moment I stepped off the boat onto land, a tangible blanket of peace enveloped me. It was such a sharp contrast from one moment to the next.
Most days on this island, I could not stop crying. I was so mindful of love surrounding me, love drawing me, love calling to me. I kept thinking, “Is this really happening? Am I dreaming?”
I would find myself walking along the Bay’s edge or up to the tiny chapel on the hill, the wind whipping violently against my face.
Wherever I went, I heard a song’s chorus play over and over like an echo through the canyon of my soul: “I am letting go…I am letting go…I am letting go… falling into You….”
It finally dawned on me that this song was not a coincidence, but a resounding call. I was being summoned to the brink of what felt like a demolition.
Every session confronted me with a fierce ocean of love that beckoned me to let go. I was suddenly conscious of feeling like the casualty of a long and arduous battle. A war that had kept me on the go, fighting, striving and trying harder.
At one point, I was sitting having lunch with a leader of our group when I said, “I have no way of describing what I am going through other than to say, it feels like an earthquake is happening deep inside of me!”
The following week, a new speaker arrived, only to describe his own similar journey as, “the divine devastation”.
I wasn’t going crazy. This was really happening. The shaking of all shakings.
The undoing of all that would keep me from my true identity and Father. My past bearings no longer available, I was way “out upon the waters, the great unknown where feet may fail”.
It was at times more than I could bear but I begged God not to let it stop. That He would help me hold nothing back.
I am beginning to believe we are called to quit.
Something within me resists this. It feels unnatural. Something in me wants to be driven, to strive, to get ‘er done.
And yet, I have found that in my giving up, more was accomplished. In my going down, I was lifted up. In my letting go, I was apprehended.
If you haven’t read Stephen Hill’s blog post, The Grace of Giving Up, please do.
I find that when I hear messages like Stephen’s, I have a strange conflicted reaction to it that goes something like this:
“Wow! This is so exhilarating. I feel so relieved. Yes, I want to quit! But…wait…am I succumbing to something that is somehow off? I long to give up, but is that ok?”
I’d been so busy trying.
Trying to jump through hoops in order to be loved and accepted.
Trying to “do” the right thing and not do the “wrong” thing.
Trying to make wrong things right again.
Trying not to let others down.
Trying not to be the disappointment or failure that I seemed to be.
Trying to fight for and prove my worth and value through what I was able to produce…even though I kept coming up exceedingly short.
Only to give up and start the vicious cycle all over again.
I was caught between wanting to be loved simply for who I am and receiving love through what I do or don’t do.
“The word Sabbath is the Hebrew word Shabbat, which simply means “quit.” Stop. Take a break. Cool it. The word itself has nothing devout or holy in it. It is a word about time, denoting our nonuse of it, what we usually call wasting time.
Sabbath is not a day off. Did you catch that? We don’t take a Sabbath because we need a day off. The motivation behind a “day off” is completely utilitarian: to restore strength, increase motivation, reward effort, and keep performance incentives high. The end result of that kind of Sabbath is … more work. Eugene Peterson called that a “bastard sabbath,” and for good reason— it is a corruption of God’s intent.
Do you have a fear of not “succeeding”? Do you worry that you’ll let others down? Do you worry that if you don’t produce enough, you’ll let God down? Because we live in a world that is ignorant of the work of God, we overestimate the work of humanity. “But true Sabbath brings true dignity back to our work because it sees our work for what it is: God-given, proper, and completely unable to give us an identity.”
– From David Lomas in The Truest Thing about You: Identity, Desire, and Why It All Matters
My eyes were opened to all the orphan ways we try to earn love or gain identity and how exhausting it all is.
I had to come to the point where I was willing to give up everything, even the fight within me, in order to find out if Anyone would be there to catch me.
I had to be willing to let the “chips fall where they may.”
If I stopped initiating, what would happen?
So… I LET GO.
“Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly.”
With crystal clarity, I saw His approval of who I am, not what I do. The eyes of my heart were opened to the “Fatherly friendly face” that simply loved me for me, and I was completely undone.
The very thing all my trying had sought to arrest was now present in my seeming death. It was like being born again, again.
Let me just say, this was not an overnight achievement nor was it a tidy process.
In fact, I think it may be safe to say that (for me) this was the culmination of many life situations and moments leading up to this time of surrender. And there will be many more to come. But something happened that forever marked my heart deep within.
I have found that God is in no hurry. He doesn’t seem to be fazed when we’re not “getting it”. He isn’t freaking out about our failures or mistakes as a result of that.
Yes, when we fall, He grieves along the way as any good father would, but not unto hopelessness, shame and disappointment.
He skillfully and patiently weaves opportunity after opportunity into our journeys in an attempt to get us to lie down in His green pastures of unconditional love and acceptance.
Is there a particular hamster wheel you find yourself running on?
There’s a place in His bosom that is the home and seat of belonging we’ve been working so hard to attain. That place is called sonship.
If you are reading this and it somehow resonates, this is what I suggest:
Ask Him to help you give up.
Ask Him to fill your heart with His love. He knows when and how to answer this request.
He hears you. He is for you, He promises to give grace to the humble.
It’s my hope that in writing my story, others are empowered to find their voice. Would you take a moment and share? I’d love to connect with you and hear your story too!
Here’s more of what happened, Time Does Not Heal
+ Check out Stephen Hill’s book, Primal Hope: Finding Confidence Beyond Religion
You can find more here too: When Our Hearts Need Parenting.