Though pixilated, I can see she is attentive. Her words come through clearly, even if the imaged is delayed. Our weekly Skype sessions have been a lifesaver during a very desperate time in my life. If you would have told me a year ago I would be seeing a counselor I would have rebuked you with all the masked insecurity and spiritualized pride I could muster. Oh, things have changed.
A few months ago I wrote a graphic letter to some friends, pleading for prayer. I told them, “I feel like I am trapped in a drowning car and I can’t get out.” They prayed. The events that led me to agree to weekly counseling happened so quick that I didn’t have a chance to protest. I am now very much pro-counseling.
During our most recent session I shared with my counselor about that plea. That as I have been meeting with her I feel like I am out of the car, but I am still weary, exhausted even, as I am treading water. I explained that some recent occurrences have felt like someone deliberately pushing my head under water for too long. I am gasping, sputtering, and disoriented. But now I have my head above water again, barely, as I have been facing the emotional, practical, and relational realities associated with each difficulty.
I thought she would be in awe of my superb analogy.
Not fazed she said, “You know, sometimes I tell people they need to stop treading water.”
I balked, “Just quit? And drown?”
She said, “Not necessarily quit. But surrender… to God.”
There was silence as she let that sink in. Sink in – get it? Ha. Seriously though…
She then continued, “There is a difference between quitting and surrendering. Quitting is saying you are through and it is not worth the effort. Surrender is a willful placement of your whole trust in God.”
That felt like the sweetest rebuff I had ever received. If the Christian faith is anything it is trust in God. That is so basic! But it is a truth I need to come back to right now in my life: surrender.
I bit my tongue and didn’t blurt out my cheeky retort, “Why can’t I just walk on the water?”
Our session ended and I was encouraged to do some journaling as a follow up. As I wrote, my thoughts went back to the sarcastic remark I withheld.
Who knows? Maybe that is the solution God has for me. But I can’t know that until I stop treading water and surrender to Him.
Then an image popped into my mind of friends who told me about swimming with the dolphins on their honeymoon. I pictured myself surrendering and my body starting to sink when along came a dolphin to catch me and take me along to safety.
I smiled. Then the floodgates opened! Floodgates – get it? Ha. Seriously though…
At first the ideas trickled in, I was amused.
- Walk on water
Then the flow of possibilities rushed over me and I couldn’t write fast enough to keep up!
- Deep sea driver
- Swallowed by a big fish
- Big wave pushes me to shore
- Life preserver ring
- Scuba gear appears
- People in a boat rescue me
- The sea splits in two and I walk out on dry land
- The water is turned to wine and a an army of giants drinks the sea dry
- He is floating beside me and waiting for me to stop flailing my arms so He can grab me
- He is the water, like the Dead Sea, and I would float in Him if I would stop trying so hard
My listy brain would like to present these allegorical options to God as ways He can rescue me when I surrender. That is a superficial relationship of dictatorship, which I want no part of. So the final item on the list expresses my heart to God in this process of surrender.
- NONE OF THE ABOVE … and that’s okay.
God is so much more creative and resourceful than my measly list of ideas. The main idea is: hope. This is a list of hope. As I surrender I have hope in the grace and goodness of God.
Are you trapped in a drowning car? Are you tired of treading water? Might you need to surrender to God, once again? What would that look like in your life?
Final thought: If you feel you need counseling, even if you think you “should” have it all together, I highly recommend you prayerfully engage in seeking help. Peace.
– Angie Washington, missionary living in Bolivia, South America