Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Hands off - hands up

A few years ago I walked up to our (then) new youth pastor from behind.  I poked my finger in the centre of his back.  He stopped talking, and automatically raised his hands as if I'd put a gun there.  It was perfect.  Then I put on a New York accent and said in a gruff voice, "Gimme your brains or I'll blow yer money out!"

He couldn't help himself.  He let out a chuckle.  Then he said, "Well, I'm sorry but you're out of luck - I haven't got either!"

I got to thinking about that stance - arms to the side, elbows bent, hands raised at 90 degrees.  It conveys several healthy messages that speak volumes to me as one recovering from the iron-fisted grip of codependency (if you want to read up on it, I have a page on this site that describes the symptoms of this condition).  In no particular order, these healthy messages (learned through a journey of getting to know myself, and God, better) are :

  • This is not a situation that I own.  I hold it lightly, and give up my (real or imagined) right to have a hand in its outcome.

  • I allow someone else - whoever caused or is responsible for the situation - to take ownership of it.
  • I give up.  I do not give up hoping or praying, but I give up trying to meddle, to influence, to manipulate.

  • I become vulnerable and open.  I don't hide who I am, I don't try to protect myself from life. I let it happen, live in today, and embrace God's choice - one day at a time.  I surrender to whatever God has in store for me this day.

  • I am grateful and praise God (hands raised) for all that I can find in this situation that is good, decent, praiseworthy, and honest.  I live my life in gratitude for the good things, and in trust that even in the bad things, He has something to teach me.
This kind of internal stance - taking my hands off, relinquishing control, and raising them in surrender and praise - is one I need to be constantly reminding myself to do because my natural tendency is to grip tighter and tighter - out of a desire to control or out of fear of losing something or someone, or from fear of failing at something.  

I've made a lot of strides in that area, and the extent to which I have learned to let go is the extent of the contentment that I experience.  If my SQ (serenity quotient) is lacking, in most cases it is because I have secretly grabbed onto something that is not mine to hold; the tighter I hold onto it, the more quickly it slips out of my grasp and the more unhappy I am.  The more completely I roll that burden off my shoulders and onto God's, the brighter and more serene every moment becomes.

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