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Years ago, I heard about an extraordinary woman of great love and deep faith. The woman, let’s call her Rose, had led a charmed life. She had married her true love. Their affection for one another grew as deeply as their marriage was long. Rose and her husband had worked hard. Because of that, they had accumulated enough wealth on which to retire comfortably. All the stars were aligned for Rose’s husband to retire at the age of 55. Rose had every expectation that retirement would lead to more beautiful memories and joys to come for many years with her husband.
However, Rose’s husband suddenly died of natural causes just weeks into his early retirement. Rose’s life was turned upside down and inside out. An unspeakable and unexpected loss darkened Rose’s days. Her life was broken into a million pieces. Nothing made sense for her anymore.
In this troubled time Rose thought it might be healing to reconnect with her lifelong friends. Plans were made to have an adventure with her friends in a far and distant place. To reconnect with the past. To make sense of the present. To find hope and healing for the future. Part of the plan was to take an excursion, a tube float down a beautiful river.
Along with her friends Rose floated past the beautiful landscape with tree branches hanging over calmly moving waters. Rose had a life jacket on. She wanted to be safe.
As Rose and her friends floated down the river, ahead she saw a boulder standing out of the water with water rushing around it on one side. Rose was pulled into the swift moving water next to the boulder. She expected to come out the other side and to join her friends. However, Rose was swept into a vortex pulling her beneath the surface. She struggled with all her might to escape. Flailing her arms and legs to swim to the top and to escape drowning. Nothing helped. Rose was clearly in a perilous predicament. She had a problem and was in over her head.
Convinced that she was going to drown, Rose decided to give up her human struggle and look to God for help. As she was about to lose consciousness, Rose relaxed, she let go and said to God, “Please take me in your arms.” Miraculously, when Rose let go, she immediately popped up to the surface of the water.
Rose survived what could have been the end of her life. Soon, she found renewed joy, happiness and purpose in life. Today, she is contributing to the goodness of the Earth and to others.
To me whether Rose’s escape from the gravity of the vortex has a scientific explanation, or whether the Arms of God or an angel rescued her from harm, the point is that surrendering to God in prayer lifted her up then and ever since.
For me, in prayer I always ask God to give me the wisdom to know those things that I should accept, and which cannot be changed and to fight for those things which can be changed.
God has spoken to us in Scripture about letting go.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
In my own life and in my calling as a Collaborative Divorce Attorney I try to distinguish between giving up and letting go. Giving up is sacrificing the illusion of control. I ask husbands and wives to look at letting go, not at giving up. Being a quitter. A loser. Or suffering a defeat. That negative view of letting go is more crippling than the injuries I suffered with polio. In contrast, letting go of a problem, a situation or a relationship can be empowering. It takes a different kind of courage. A stronger faith that God will handle what we cannot no matter what efforts, words or actions we take. That allows God’s love to work in us and through us in all things.
God, in prayer please give us the wisdom to find strength to change the world and our relationships for the better when that change is possible.
God, in prayer please help us to find the wisdom to do what is needed to let go and to surrender our lives, our present and future to You.
God, in prayer please help us to let go when we are in over our heads in the vortexes of life and the living of it.
God in prayer please help us to have such faith in You that we can rise above the troubles in our lives to the surface of Your hope, love and plans for us and in us. Amen
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Jack H. Emmott is a Senior Counsel of Gray, Reed & McGraw, LLP, a 145-lawyer full-service firm in Houston, Dallas, and Waco, Texas, a Board-Certified Family Law and Master Credentialed Collaborative Law Professional Divorce Attorney, Mediator, Author, Entrepreneur and Inspirational Speaker. For more information about Jack or his latest book, Bending Angels: Living Messengers of God’s Love, go to the Bending Angel website.