Almost 5 years ago my husband and I walked through the most difficult time I have ever faced. We were already dealing with some personal struggles in our own lives and marriage when we found out his mom had cancer. For about 5 grueling months we walked with her through that journey until the Lord took her home. During that time we both worked full time, were raising 2 small children, and I was also in graduate school. I could write a book about what we faced, and the amazing wonders God worked in and through that mess. A few years later life settled into a new norm that was much easier. Things were going along well with our little family and careers, and I was faithfully spending time in prayer and the Word. I really felt like I was in a season of blessing - a peak between valleys. That’s why it made no sense to me that I would feel the way I did. I simply could not shake this sense of uneasiness that seemed to follow me around. No matter what I did, how much I prayed, how much Bible I read, or how many times I looked at the blessings in my life with gratitude and awe, I still felt this sense of anxiety.
One day I was driving to work and began to pray. I told God that I was tired of feeling this way and I was giving this thing to him. I asked him to take it from me, and to help me see what I needed to do (or not do) in order to be rid of it for good. In that prayer, I believed 100% that he could and would do just as I asked. After I prayed, I turned on the radio to a Christian station, and this is the exact line I heard:
“stop holding on and just be held”
In that moment, I knew that line was speaking to me, but I didn’t really know what it meant. I listened to the rest of the song, and to that line being repeated several times throughout the song, I started to think about how I wasn’t very good at being held. Sometimes I’m good at holding on, taking action, running toward him, and getting the things done that I feel he calls me to do. But, to simply be held? Ok God, I’m listening, I thought. When the song ended, I wondered if this was really what I needed to do as I flipped to the next Christian station. Then, I heard the same exact song and the same exact line again.
“stop holding on and just be held”
And right there in my VW Jetta, I knew that God had heard my prayer and was speaking right to me.
That difficult time in my life was gut-wrenching and grueling, painful and just plain hard. In fact, it was impossible for me to do all that was on my plate to do, and I knew it. There is no way I could have survived without leaning fully on God, and lean I did. But, when things are going well, I tend to feel like I don’t need God so desperately. I feel like the everyday, run-of-the-mill struggles in life are things that I can handle on my own, and so I don’t ask for help. I want to have a relationship with God, and even ask for a hug here and there, but I tend to stay standing on my own two feet rather than climbing in his lap. There is a definite difference between holding on and being held. My daughter is now 10 years old, and I’ve always called her my monkey because she has this ability to cling to you like she is one. She has always hung on tight when being held, which took some of the workload off me in the days I carried her around on my hip regularly. My son, on the other hand, does not possess this monkey-quality. When I held him as a baby, and even today, he simply lets you do all the work. He loves to be held, always has. He totally trusts that I will hold him, that I won’t let go, and does not feel the need to hold on at all. Moses spoke these words to the tribe of Benjamin:
“Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders.” Deuteronomy 33:12.
What I learned in my car that day was that sometimes I have to just let go and let God. He does not need my help to hold my burdens. Nothing I have is too heavy, or light, for Him to hold. I have to fully release my problems to God so that I can stop struggling, and hand Him my anxieties so that I can have peace. I need to give Him my entire restless heart so that He can hold it in His capable hands, and sometimes I even need to stop trying so hard to hold on to Him and just be held, secure in His strong and capable arms, and trust that He won’t ever let me go.
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