Most Sunday mornings, when I find myself driving alone to church, I sit in my car for a few minutes to gather my thoughts and try to clear my head. I try to clear my heart. The week winds down and often leaves me exhausted and burdened, yet Sunday mornings are for savoring. Sunday mornings are for refreshing and precious time with the sweetest Savior. Something about the church itself is a refuge and a hiding place, a sacred place to meet with God the Father. And as I sat in my car last Sunday morning, it was a struggle to clear my head and my heart. The grey skies felt like a reflection of the churning deep in my soul. Each cloud, a different thought looming over me and preventing my soul from lifting its face to the bronzing sun. My heart held up sorrow on top of its already weary frame. The week was full of difficult conversations and difficult relationships, which always weigh especially heavy on my heart. I walked slowly into church because I felt uneasy. I felt insecure and vulnerable and I was hurting, yet I couldn’t place a finger on what sparked the pain. My head felt chalked full of lies. Insecurities I thought I had long since beaten overwhelmed me. It wasn't until we started singing “I Surrender All,” that I started to hear my heart beat a little stronger. It was then that the Lord spoke to me about what I was truly surrendering. It's easy for me to say I'm surrendering the flesh. It's easy for me to say I’m surrendering my past and my future.
But the Lord was calling me to surrender more than the clichés.
Surrendering all means the really ugly, messy things too. It means surrendering anger, bitterness, grudges. It means surrendering rights and reputation. It means surrendering defenses and hurts, guard walls and protection. I cannot stand before the Lord, palms upward and sing about surrendering all while holding on to the feeling that I have been wronged in some way.
Last Sunday morning, surrendering all meant surrendering any rights I felt entitled to, including how I was treated and how I felt I deserved to be treated. It meant surrendering my reputation and being okay with being misunderstood. It meant surrendering my longing to control others opinions of me. It meant literally stripping my heart of every desire that was tied to my name, every wrong, every identity, every hurt and the apology I thought I deserved. When I stood there, stripped of it all, I was truly vulnerable.
I realized that I have nothing to lose by loving those who have hurt me.
Forsaking the rights and entitlements I think I am owed remove the built-up dam in my heart that hinders a river of grace from pouring from the Father through me. It hit me then, standing there, that vulnerability doesn’t always mean exposing dark secrets, sinful pasts or present struggles. Sometimes for me, vulnerability means choosing to open my heart to love in hard places. It requires pushing back the safe walls behind which I try to keep my heart and lowering guards meant to keep my heart well. It means placing myself in places where pain has the opportunity to creep into my heart, places where I’ve been rejected, places where I’ve been shown I’m unloved. Sometimes vulnerability calls me to dive into the places where I can’t quite manage to fit in or feel accepted. Vulnerability means choosing to pursue friendships with some of the most difficult people. It means purposefully charging into loving hard. It means laying down my life, physically but also emotionally.
And in that, there can be no "giving up" just to protect my heart, because I want to be completely spent for the glory of Jesus even if that means that I become an emotional sacrifice.