I was 23 when I started dating my husband – 23 and in love with my job.
My friends teased for loving work so much. It wasn’t normal, and I knew it. But I worked with amazing people at Alabama Power. I was lucky to get a job since the company was on a hiring freeze. Best of all, I had a boss who believed in me. And as his faith in me grew, so did my opportunities.
For once in my life, I didn’t need a plan. I could work hard and reap the benefits. This wasn’t the deal in college. In college I had to work hard and let my desires be known. I had to seek out the achievements I wanted.
But in the workplace, the tide turned. Good projects came my way, along with a few unexpected promotions. Going to work was fun, because every day was different.
And then one weekend, I went to Huntsville for a party. An old friend from college, Harry, was living there and working for his family’s business. We hung out at the party and flirted, and at the end of the night we kissed. I didn’t expect anything to come of it, nor did I expect sparks to fly.
But sparks did fly that night. Actually, it was fireworks, and all I can remember thinking is, I’m going to marry this boy. He is the one.
The idea came out of left field, because I was having fun dating around. Marriage wasn’t anywhere on my radar. And yet I knew, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that Harry was the one.
At the time I called our first kiss magical. Now I call it the work of God.
Part of me wanted to send Harry into the future, to tell him to come back in 5 or 10 years when I was ready. I knew that marrying him would eventually mean moving to Huntsville, quitting my job, and leaving my friends and family. I couldn’t imagine that. Then again, I couldn’t imagine living without him.
For a few weeks I dated other people along with Harry, secretly hoping that my interest in him might fade, and I could resume business as usual. But this strategy only backfired, because dating around made me miss Harry more. I no longer felt complete without him. I couldn’t go back to my old life, because my old life didn’t include him.
And that was when I realized how I’d hit a crossroads. I either needed to commit, knowing that would require sacrifices down the road, or I needed to let Harry go. Even at age 23, I knew I’d one day regret letting him go, because it was only a matter of time before another girl snatched him up. And for the rest of my life I’d wonder, What if?
And so I chose to surrender. I surrendered to love. It was a slow surrender, one that would take three years before I finally pulled the plug on Birmingham, married, and moved to Huntsville. I knew I was doing the right thing. I knew Harry was the one. Yet even so, it was hard to go. I was scared to leave my comfort zone for the uncertainty of the unknown.
Looking back it is so obvious how I made the right choice. I now look at our four daughters, the fruit of my surrender, and think how different my life would be if I’d ignored that voice telling me that we belonged together. But there were times early in our marriage when I regretted moving to Huntsville. For several years it didn’t feel like home, and I begged Harry to move us back to Birmingham.
As gently as possible, he would state the obvious.
Their family business was in Huntsville.
We were there for the long haul.
Leaving wasn’t an option.
I needed to accept that.
Begrudgingly, I did accept it. And I made the best of the situation. Again, slow surrender.
A few years later we got pregnant, and by this point I was happy in Huntsville because it’s a great place to raise a family, and we’d made a lot of great friends. Then out of the blue, changes in the family business led us back to Birmingham. It was an answer to a prayer…but a prayer I’d quit praying.
Funny how things work out, isn’t it?
As I look back on my life today, I realize how surrendering to love prepared me for surrendering to God. In my first surrender, I learned about sacrificing things I love for someone I love more.
I learned how suddenly my heart could change – overnight – when the right person came along.
And I learned to trust the voice inside me that is real and not a figment of my imagination. To me that voice acts like bread crumbs in my life, leading me crumb by crumb to a feast I’d never find alone.
I used to think surrendering to God meant selling all my possessions, moving to a third-world country, and serving the poor. But now I believe it means willingness. Whatever God asks of me, I should be willing. My sacrifices will be different than yours, because Gods works differently in our lives. He leads us to the same feast, but with different bread crumbs and different paths. And while none of us can see the feast, we trust that it exists. We trust because the voice inside us tells us so.
You may wonder why anyone surrenders to God. Why go that far when we can keep God in moderation and still have a good life? Here’s what I’ve come to learn: Once we understand God, really get how loving and powerful He is, we can’t keep him in moderation. We want to love Him out loud. We want to be like a giddy school girl, gushing to anyone who will listen about this great God we’ve found, and how present and real and AMAZING He is.
We start seeing our life through a new filter, a God filter, and suddenly people can’t hurt like us before. We care less about the world’s opinion and more about God’s. It changes our life. We see earth for what it is: A means to heaven. We take less pleasure in the mistakes and fall of others, wishing them healing and redemption instead. We start hearing God’s voice in our life, only it sounds like our voice, and we realize with a head slap that God’s been with us all along.
He’s been that voice in our head.
That feeling in our gut.
That thought maker who gave us those ideas out of left field, ideas that led us to a better place – or perhaps saved our life.
All along, God put bread crumbs on our trail. Regardless of whether we prayed…or believed….or took the time to say, “I love you, too.”
Once we connect the dots and see God’s work in our life, we can’t go back to our old life. It’s too small, because we’ve outgrown it with our love for God. We want MORE. And the only way to get more is by committing our life to Him.
And so begins our surrender. I call it surrendering because the commitment is quick, but the process is ongoing. It’s two steps forward, one step back, because our will gets in the way. We won’t always like how God’s stretching us. It will make us uncomfortable, and we’ll beg for our old comfort zone, just as I begged my husband to move me back to Birmingham.
God will tell us to be patient and trust. We will because we love Him. We’ll warm up to His ideas and acclimate. And as grow in our new comfort zone and see our purpose taking shape, we’ll learn to trust Him more. We’ll give Him more of our heart, then trust Him with our life.
Proverbs 19:21 says, “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” I love this verse because I’m a planner, and this takes the pressure off me. My plans are powerless against God’s, so why kill myself mapping them out? Why not follow what He’s mapped out for me?
God has a map for all of us. All we have to do is listen. And trust. And look for the bread crumbs at our feet. They are there, waiting to be noticed. Waiting to be followed.
It’s okay to surrender slowly. Take it day by day, crumb by crumb, and see what happens.
Thanks for reading this article today. If you found the message helpful, please share it through social media.
Also, I’ve written two books for teen & tween girls designed to empower them through faith. The newest one, Liked, is getting a fantastic response as a unique resource for girls of the digital age, and along with the bestselling 10 Ultimate Truths Girls Should Know, it’s being used widely across the U.S. for small group studies.
Have a great day, and thanks again for stopping by!
Posted by Kari on July 24, 2013