This is when I resigned myself to God’s will. That’s right, resign. I think this may be what a lot of people do when they think they are submitting to God’s will. It’s an easy mistake to make because the differences between resignation and submission are so subtle, but the result of mistaking one for the other will lead to a lifetime of dissatisfaction. I find that the best way to articulate the difference between resignation and submission is by looking at the synonyms for both words…
resign 1. withdraw, abdicate, renounce; quit, leave, give up, surrender, cede, forgo.
submit 1. comply, bow, obey, agree
Now we start to see a clearer distinction. Imagine going through life applying that first group of words to how you respond to God! And this is exactly what I was doing. I was renouncing my hopes a dreams and resigning myself to “God’s will” as I understood it through the filter of “God put them together” and, pardon the expression, it sucked.
I believed this lie so deeply that I had the audacity to feel resentment towards God in the midst of situations where He had protected me. God intervened when I was about to make choices that would have been devastating, and instead of being thankful, all I could do was feel angry that I didn’t get my way, even though I knew my way might have been deadly.
As time moved on the anger would subside but the nagging feeling that something was missing never did. I resigned myself to being resigned because now I owed God for protecting me from danger and was baffled by the fact that I was unhappy and dissatisfied. If you are committed to your relationship with God, aren’t you supposed to feel happy about it? This is how I lived until last September.
My mom died last September and the days leading up to her death changed everything about the way I saw God. I had only imagined that I had known anger until my family went through my mom’s sickness at the end of her life on earth. It seemed like there would be no end to her suffering, one thing after another went wrong. When talking about that time I’ve told friends that I felt as though if God had been standing near me I would have punched him in the face because I just couldn’t understand where His mercy and his love was for my mom or for our family. Especially when she had done what he wanted, she’d married a man who struggled with homosexuality, she’d lived without romance, according to my understanding, in an attempt to do His will, she was devoted to ministering to others even though she was handicapped, even though she was often in a great deal of pain! What more could he want from her?
I screamed, I yelled, and I cried, and in my anguish, slowly, I began to see with new eyes… because God is a good God.
In the week that my family spent together in my mom’s hospital room as her life here was slipping away, God began to speak to my heart about what it meant to submit and offer my life to Him. I began to see how my mom didn’t abandon her hopes and dreams, she offered them to her Father and trusted them to Him. By submitting to God my mom wasn’t limiting her vision, she was expanding it! The world told her that she’d never marry and that she’d never have children, but she believed that with God all things are possible and by submitting to His will she was opening herself up to those possibilities and He moved mountains to give her the desires of her heart.
At the very end my dad was the only person that my mom would respond to, she made noises for him, she cried when he left her side, he was the only person in her world at that point, the only person that she needed with her to the very end. You’d think that that would be difficult for a child as they lose their parent, but instead it was comforting and amazingly humbling to get to see their bond in such a raw way. I took this picture one evening as my dad was softly speaking to my mom assuring her he was there with her. My young heart had thought my mom had given up hope of romance, but now I know that she knew a love that puts our common understanding of romance to shame. She called my dad her hero, and I believe that the love they had for one another is what fairytales are written about. For the rest of my life whenever I feel like God is far away, or I don’t understand His plan, this is the image that will fill my mind and I’ll remember that He brought them together and that this is what love looks like and this is how He loves me.