When You Have to Release Control

June 09, 2016

when you need to release control


It seems too delicate a word for me to understand, the syllables lilting off my tongue like failure, like giving up.

Surrender seems cowardly, a tiny white flag of acquiescence.

The signal that a battle is done. I’ve never been one to release control lightly.

I’ve always been a fighter. I’ve always fought for what’s important to me: justice, love, friendships, forgiveness, even for my peace.

But on this June day the tufts of dandelion’s wings floating on the breeze in my backyard, their fluffed fairy dance, looking for a place to land, I am trying to remember how. Actually, I’m trying to learn how, how they let themselves be carried to and fro, how they trust they’ll be carried towards the right seedbed for growth. How they trust the wind, how they trust nature and its design.

The truth remains there are so many things beyond our control in this world.

Sickness. Cancer. Loss. How people will respond to us. In missions we can’t control culture, or government, or visas. In the IVF process, no matter how much you prepare, it’s all outside your control. Every day there is some new information that threatens to twist your insides with worry. Things don’t go as planned. Protocols get thrown out the window. There are often more questions than answers. It’s a desperate journey of shifting sand.

Terror clenches the body tight in its grip. Will it happen again? What about all the unknowns?

Perhaps one day the reality hits us that we can’t control God, not even with our goodness.

And this is scary because it makes us wonder how He can be trusted.

And yet, as I ease back into the Adirondack chair and pull out the journal and the worn Bible, this is the only ritual I know that can relax the tense muscles, the contraction in my gut that squeezes with each breath. This is the only ritual I know to ward off panic.

To watch the way the light grazes the tops of the trees like a blessing and illuminates the tiny grey bird nesting there. He tilts his head and pecks curiously at the tree branch, oblivious to danger.

That verse bubbles up: “He cares for even the sparrows….”

So won’t He care for me?

The God I’ve come to know cares for me even in my risks, my unknowns, my failures, in my questions, temper tantrums, and hail mary’s.

Sometimes there isn’t anything else you can do. Not another pill to take, not another strange condition to search on the Web, not another email or phone call, not another thing I try to force to bend like the rubbery green stem of the yellow butterfly weed I pass on my trail hikes in northern California. I always want to take them home to adorn my room in free flowers, but they resist my pulling.

Sometimes all you can do is open your hands, release and let go.

It takes a while to get there. It takes a lot of chair sitting, worship singing with the windows down, trail hiking, and watching of birds, and going to a movie instead of waiting for the phone call. It takes a lot of choice to focus on this present moment now, instead of the worry and the future fortune telling dispelling only negativity.

It takes a lot of breath exhaled that says, “I give up. I surrender.”

“God, help, please. I know you are able.”

And perhaps these are the most important prayers we can breathe.

In the sighing, in the act of openness, in the desperateness of “I can’t,” we stop straining against the ropes that bind us and maybe there is a little wiggle room for a miracle.

Grace follows surrender just like beauty emanates from our attention.

Just breathe.


How do you release control?

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