Jesus looked at them and said, “For human beings this is impossible, but for God all things are possible.” Mark 10:27
When Mason makes a mistake, his reaction is intense. A dark cloud descends and he beats himself up, literally and figuratively. When he’s really disappointed by what he’s done, he’ll actually bang his head against the wall or slap himself in the face.
I have been struggling a lot with someone who recently offended me. (She will remain unnamed to protect the innocent.) It has taken on a bigger dimension because the issue directly effects one of my kids. I am amazed by how upset the mama bear in me has become.
I have been judging her, condemning her, and holding a grudge that has consumed way too much of my time and energy. On top of all those mucky emotions is guilt. I have been beating myself up because no matter how hard I try, I can’t forgive her. Despite taking it to prayer over and over again, I can’t move beyond it. I have felt like a failure as a Christian. In my shame and embarrassment, I buried it all deep down inside, thinking that was the only way to move forward.
During my retreat last weekend, Sister Aline was wrapping up our last spiritual direction session on Sunday. Out of nowhere, this situation unexpectedly bubbled up and out of me. I had no intention whatsoever of discussing it with her. But God had other plans.
In less than ten minutes, Sister Aline helped me understand what I was supposed to do. Without even knowing any of the specifics, she helped me realize that these things, these issues, happen for a reason. They are meant to teach us that we aren’t supposed to do life alone. We aren’t meant to be able to solve every problem, find the right answer all the time. That’s God’s job.
Instead, we are meant to be humbled. We have to come down from our ivory towers of control and admit we can’t work through things on our own. Once we do that, we are supposed to approach God with our problems like a vulnerable little child. We’re supposed to admit to Him that we need Him, and then ask Him to do the work in us.
I had known the issue was beyond me. I had also known to take it to prayer. But I had been praying for the wisdom and grace to forgive on my own. I thought I just had to pray for the right tools, and then do all the work myself. Sister Aline’s point was I was supposed to surrender the issue to God, and then let God do the forgiving in me. There’s an immense difference between the two. God is called our Savior for a reason. If we let Him, He can save us, especially when we need saving from ourselves.
Now I see that Mason’s issue is the same as mine. He’s trying to live as if he can’t make mistakes. It’s unnatural. We were born as human beings, flawed and prone to making bad choices. Those mistakes can be gifts if we look at them the right way. They are road signs leading us back to God, forcing us to quit the charade of perfection. If we want to make progress, be the people we know we are meant to be, we need to surrender, hand over the hard stuff, and let God do the work in us.
When I got home from my retreat, I talked with Mason about this concept. I think he got the point, as much as he could at the age of ten. I also detected a sense of relief in him, a feeling like the pressure was off. If he can turn to God to fix the mistakes inside of him, there’s less onus on him.
But implementing this is so much harder than I thought. Although Mason and I like the idea of turning over our mistakes to God, we’re already forgetting to do so. We’ve programmed ourselves to blame ourselves, and that programming is hard to undo. I suppose that’s where practice and grace come in. If he and I can remind each other to keep surrendering our mistakes, hopefully we’ll form good and positive habits soon, with God in charge.
Questions For Reflection:
* Is there an issue I’m having that I can’t solve on my own?
* Have I surrendered and asked God to solve this issue in me?
* Are my kids having any issues that I can’t seem to help them solve?
* Can I teach them to surrender and ask God to solve their issues in them too?
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