Opening Hands

Before I left for college, I wrote about how my tendency to control and plan every aspect of my life often hurt more than it helped, leaving me frustrated and stressed because I was counting on my own strength instead of God’s.  As the weeks leading up to college quickly passed, I made a daily effort to surrender all of my fears and concerns about my approaching new chapter of life to God. Unfortunately, during my first couple months of college those efforts fell to pieces, and once again I was forced to learn the hard way that things will never go well until I throw my hands up, cry “whatever!”, and give it all up to God and His Providence.

letting-goI knew that college would bring new struggles and difficulties. I knew that I would miss my family and that the homesickness would be hard to bear alone. So I leaned on God for comfort- but I forgot to come to Him for guidance.

So accustomed was I to having things under control, especially on the academic side of things, I expected to fall into my class schedule, homework load, and new social life without a glitch.  I never thought I would have a problem keeping up with assignments, finding time for studying, or learning to balance work and play, so I never asked God for help, because I had it covered.

Oh- how many times must I be reminded that “pride cometh before a fall”!  The first couple weeks were full of headaches- literal and figurative ones- and the following weeks bore every type of heartache.  After a night when both decided to plague me at once, I looked down and realized my hands were clenched- holding on much too tightly to every thread of my life, both future and past. I was trying to control everything: who would like me, who I would like, where I would go, who I would go with, what I would do, what I wouldn’t do, what was most important, what wasn’t, and what I thought I should do in each situation.  I was acting according to the plans my already frenzied and confused mind was attempting to lay down, and I was suffering from the pain of trying.

Then I realized what I had done: I had ripped everything I had given to God out of His hands, so that I could hold it instead.  And in the aftermath I had been reminded of why Jesus was the one who carried the cross for me: He knew I would never be strong enough to handle life on my own, much less death, and that attempting to bear the weight of my decisions would be hard enough without having to carry their consequences as well.

Though I write this with teary eyes and shaky hands, I know that things will be all right, because God once again reached down through the mess of my life to pull me out of my self-made grave and set me back upon even ground.  Once again He’ll hold my hand and I’ll hold His, just like a child learning to walk.  And in this beautiful, broken weakness, He will be stronger- He is always stronger- and will lead me back onto the right paths.

Praise be to God for His infinite mercy, patience, and love, and for being the great, guiding light which saves me from descending beyond hope time and time again.  Chances are this will not be last time He catches me before a fatal fall, but it is so wonderful to know that- for the time being- His grace has once again set me straight.

2 thoughts on “Opening Hands”

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    Abigail, this was beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing this with us. Your post reminded me of what our Lord told St. Peter:

    “Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you girded yourself and walked where you would; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go.” (This he said to show by what death he was to glorify God.) And after this he said to him, ‘Follow me.'” -John 21:18-19

    I also have learned and am still learning such lessons, albeit not easily, especially in the past few years. Too often when we try to plan out everything in our lives, or through sheer force of will seek to create the future that we want, rather than participating with the Lord and discerning his will for us; it does not take too long for things to go awry after that.

    You are right: We will find our lives, paradoxically, when we unclench our hands and allow Jesus to lead us along his paths. It is, in many senses, painful because it is like a death to let go of our egos, our desires, our wants. But then Christ gives it all back a hundredfold — maybe even in ways that we could have never imagined or expected. It is, as you said, “just like a child learning to walk. And in this beautiful, broken weakness, He will be stronger- He is always stronger- and will lead me back onto the right paths.”

    Hang in there and don’t let go of that hand. It’s the only thing that has ever saved me and led me to life… He knows the way for you, for me, for all of us. God bless you!

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