Sometimes I have an AHA! moment that feels profound and like a radical shift in perspective and then I think well maybe this is just me growing up. After all it was only a second ago that I was slipping my fingertips under my parents door in the middle of the night just to be near them.
Back in November when I had, what shall we say... cracked? I stopped everything and took John Michael to the Rivendell Motherhouse located in Amish country Missouri. Rivendell is a recognized Christian Community of the Episcopal Church, where people come from all over the world for their own spiritual retreat spent in prayer and solitude. They give you a place to sleep in their large cozy farmhouse and feed you. I just wanted 24 hours. 24 hours to pray, to meditate, to ponder, to question, to come clean with God. It wasn't spent in complete silence since I had an adorable snuggle bud vying for my attention. I prayed with the companions in their beautiful chapel services held throughout the day. Best of all, we walked the nature path that surrounds the farm. There was a little tiny dog that lived with the community that showed me the way, I didn't care where we went. The air was so clean and fresh (that kind of oxygen that we miss so much living in the city). Every few yards there was a bench placed under the beautiful trees. We stopped every time. It matched very well with where the prayers were leading me. I started out confessing and confused.
In the Christian tradition we believe that we are called to a life of sacrifice. I have always been drawn to Romans 12:1 " Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God to present your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice, pleasing and acceptable to God. This is your spiritual act of worship."
I remember talking with my friends about this in high school. Thinking about the practice of human sacrifice. Laying the body on the altar. In this case we are not physically taking a sword to our bodies but we are A LIVING SACRIFICE. We offer up everything in our lives right down to all the decisions we make big and small.
At the first bench, I had come to the realization I needed to RE-let go of my life. I needed to let go of my bucket list. I had been dealing with feelings of having ALL my dreams for the future being shattered. Even though the truth is with an uncertain future it doesn't mean that I will no longer be able to do anything I had once hoped. I do believe God puts desires in our hearts for a reason. But it hit me that Christ didn't come to this earth to visit Scotland. Let me rephrase that He didn't put ME on this earth to visit Scotland, write a book, become fluent in sign language, live on my dream farm nice and quiet without a care in the world except for milking my cow twice a day and gathering the daily dose of freshly laid eggs. I don't mean that we shouldn't strive to live a fulfilled life. BUT that it is NOT OUR PURPOSE. That would be too selfish. And that is the exact opposite of what Jesus demonstrated for us. His was a life of complete sacrifice, always giving. I do believe that is the purpose for every single person. Live to Give. No one can make it alone. We thrive in community and support and shared love. From romance to childbirth and Anam Cara (soul friends). In that moment I saw that I needed to sacrifice my life... and here was the kicker.... even IF it meant only for ONE person. Just one. IF I had to spend the rest of my life caring for someone who couldn't care for himself. Many people have to give up their life for lots of lives. My mom lives for the work she does in Egypt touching thousands of people. A firefighter goes to work ready to give up his life to save any number of people. Some are more glorious and heroic than others. But what about that quiet mother somewhere who is solely taking care of her grown child who will never leave the home? She feeds him, still changes his diapers, gives him his medication, bathes him, moves him from one position to another. I don't know her name. Neither do you. She has given up all of her life, for this one person. And maybe no one will recognize her sacrifice. And maybe no one will give her an award, or name a hospital after her. Maybe no one will even know to be inspired by her.
What if I was called to give up my life for one soul? Thankfully I know that I am not that lone woman right now. I have other children to spend my time blessing. I know that my life has been more than the sum of one person.... but what does the future hold? I must let go. I must let go of Africa, Europe, farmland, dancing, teaching, horses, writing, learning, retiring. Because only in letting go will I ever really be free. So many times in my life after I let go, that is when I see God bring it to fruition but the thing about letting go means you are okay even if it doesn't happen.
That was only profound (for me ) thought one.
By the time I came out of the woods and stopped at all the benches, John Michael and I were walking around the barn with the sun shining down on us. God spoke to me. We not only get to sacrifice our own lives.... we must give up that of our children. GASP! NNNNNNOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! I really don't want to! No, please no! Please let me be the one to control and protect them. I can't even fathom the thought of releasing them into the world someday let alone losing the reigns of their purpose in life. This is the reality even for people who don't believe in God. We know our time with our kids is borrowed and therefore precious. They will be their own persons, they will make their own choices and go their own ways. Even now I desperately wish I could force feed my son to eat only healthy foods, instead he chooses to go to bed hungry. I wish I could force my introverted daughter to tell me everything she is thinking, instead of waiting a week before I hear about her day. I wish I could make my son WAKE up to the body he has been put in, to force him to be curious of his world, instead he is happy to observe. But I knew when God spoke this to me, he was right. I hadn't let go of John Michael's future (or any of my babies). And I needed to. I need to everyday. I have been blessed that their life has been passed through me. God used me as a place to create their physical bodies and they will move on past where I can go.
Thankfully I am reminded God's intentions are beautiful. and good.... even when things seem bad.
Only God can follow my teenage daughter on all her dates. Only God can guide my children in their steps. Only God watches my children every second that they sleep. Only God. It is a horse pill to swallow, but it is good. And really it feels better once you let go. Even if you do have to do it everyday.