When I look back at my journey, the driving force behind my grief is control. So much happened to me in a fairly short time. Over the last 18 years I have grasped to control anything I possibly could. Jobs. My health. My reputation. My emotions. My friendships.
I was pretty good at it. I am very persistent and can be very convincing.
Then I met my match.
Her name is Piper. She is my daughter.
We had a rocky start. After my transplant, we had decided to adopt instead of having kids biologically. I was scared. There was so much unknown around my health and so many babies out there that needed homes. Then I had a dream. The dream that changed it all. I don’t remember much about the dream, but I knew that when I woke up we needed to try and have a baby. I couldn’t make a decision out of fear. I gave God a month. If I didn’t get pregnant in a month, we were moving forward with adoption.
I got pregnant.
As I have shared, my relationship with God at the time was transactional. If I was obedient, God should give me what I want. That line of thinking led me to believe that if I was obedient and got pregnant, being a parent was going to be easy.
Just in case you don’t know, parenting is super hard. And when two strong willed, feisty people create a human, it tends to even be harder.
A couple years ago we were deep in the trenches with Piper. I was working through deep resentment towards God and Piper. She was so hard. Piper was mirroring the anxiety I had spent my whole life battling and had tried so hard to hide. I blamed myself, God and her. When she wasn’t weeping, her anxiety manifested in anger and rage. We were walking on eggshells. We didn’t want to upset the beast. We sought peace at all cost. We tried all the tricks. We did all the things. Nothing seemed to be helping. Our marriage was suffering as we sought to survive the storm.
We were defeated. We didn’t know what else to do. I couldn’t do it anymore. Nothing was working. It was a fight we couldn’t win.
Right around the same time, I was struggling professionally. I didn’t know what I was supposed to be doing, but I sure knew what I wanted to do. So I pushed. I tried to control my circumstances and convince the people involved that my plan was right. On a conscience level I didn’t realize I was doing that, but I knew something didn’t feel right. I felt like I was trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. Those around me saw beyond my arguments and confirmed what I already knew, the job was not the right fit. I was the square peg that didn’t fit in the round hole. Although in my heart, I knew it was the right thing, I was angry. I was lost.
On top of that, my friendships were changing. I had had hip surgery and recovery was much harder than we had anticipated.
Everything around me felt so out of control.
I could no longer steer my ship.
I had lost.
I was broken.
I couldn’t control my friends.
I couldn’t control my body.
I couldn’t convince anyone that I was the best one for the job.
I couldn’t change Piper as much as I tried and tried.
I couldn’t fight it anymore.
I slowly began to surrender.
I waved my white flag.
I finally accepted. I began to accept the fact that 18 years ago, my life changed forever – even though I never did anything wrong. I began to accept the fact that my body does not have the same capacities it used to have. I began to accept the fact that God never promised that we would be shielded from pain, only that he would be there. I began to accept the fact that I am going to have a lot more things happen in my life that are super hard. I began to accept the fact that I have an anxious, defiant daughter, whom I deeply love. I began to accept the fact that I am not going to always get what I want when I want it.
I began to accept reality.
I have never been so relieved. Feeling the need to control everything is a heavy burden to bear. One I was never designed to carry.
I literally felt my heart begin to melt. I felt all these layers of grief and confusion begin to shed. And with each layer, I felt lighter and lighter. The Lisa that God created began to resurface again.
I have wondered over the last couple years why these circumstances in particular brought me to a place of surrender and acceptance. I’m not really sure. After everything I have gone through, why my anxious daughter and a failed dream were what brought me to my knees remains a mystery. But I’ll tell you this-I am eternally grateful. As I continue to cease to try to control my life and everyone involved, I am in constant awe of God’s presence and provision. Breakthroughs in my faith have been accelerated. I have grown more in the last two years then I did in the previous 15. My relationships have gotten so much sweeter. I can make decisions faster and with more confidence. I can hear God’s voice more clearly and discern his path more quickly. I’m becoming more grateful and less discontent. I am becoming more graceful and less judgmental. I am much quicker to see my pride and confess my desire to control.
Acceptance is so peaceful. Fighting is exhausting.
I have said so many times that grief is designed to be a pathway to healing, not a way of life. If you allow the current of emotion that I have learned to call grief carry you, you will end in the ocean. A place of freedom, adventure and awe. But if you try to stop the current, it will bubble up and you will drown..
Do you feel like you are drowning? Look up and breathe deeply. Acknowledge that life was not what you expected. Invite God to join you. Get angry. Just make sure it isn’t pointed sideways. Bargain. Just don’t let it be your foundation in which you build your faith. If you feel depressed or anxious, don’t be afraid of it, it’s normal. But try to keep perspective on the driver behind the emotion. Seek outside help. Never feel ashamed. Then surrender. Surrender daily, Surrender hourly. Because please, learn from my mistakes…
In Matthew 16 Jesus says to his disciples “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.”
Let me take the liberty to paraphrase…
If you try to control your life, you will lose it. But if you surrender your life to him, he will save it.
This is the end of my series on my grief journey. Stay tuned for what is next!