You Are Not The Hero Of Your Story: thoughts on surrender and living in the Father’s Love

Laura Phelps
blog post art LP 2018_09_03

My youngest child was just four years old when we moved from California to Connecticut. The main reason for this major uprooting? To be closer to family. My sister, just a few towns away now, suggested she take my four kids to a movie so that I could unpack the eight million boxes I was staring at. I jumped at the offer and gathered the kids and ushered them out into the driveway. But as I buckled my youngest into the car seat and kissed him goodbye, a thought hit me.I never told him where they were going!  And as my sister started up the engine and began to back out, I called out, “Luke? Do you even know where Aunt Kathy is taking you?” And with a trust and peace that truly transcends all understanding, he looked at me, smiled, shrugged his cute little shoulders, and said, “nope.”  And I laughed, as they drove away.

I still think about this moment, eight years later. My precious one? He knew me so well, and was so certain of my love for him, that there was no need to question why I was putting him in another car, strapping him down, and sending him off without giving him the details. He trusted me so much, believed in me so much, that concern or worry about what the plan for him was, was a non-issue. He willingly accepted that he was not in charge, but that because I had proved my love to him over and over again already, he had nothing to fear. So long as he was in my hands, he was in good hands.

This is the beauty of a childlike faith.

And good grief, I want it.

And because God knows I want it, he is doing all that he can to teach me it. Which depending on the day you ask, I may or may not boast of His faithfulness and goodness, because asking God to bless you with a childlike faith is basically asking Him to strap you into a stranger’s car and have them take off, without telling you where you are going. It is a prayer of surrender. And we all know how easy it is to surrender, don’t we?

Ugh. Why is surrender so difficult? Seriously. Think about that question. Because most people find surrender incredibly hard. I sure do. Surrendering goes against everything my earthly self automatically desires. Things like full control, and knowing the future, and some sort of guarantee in writing – or quite possibly blood – that everything and everyone will be okay. Surrendering means emptying my soul of all those feelings I tend to cling to and rely on as truth, of accepting the “supporting actor role” of my life because I understand that I am not the hero of my story, but rather, God is.

Did you hear that?You are not the hero of your story.

Does that last line make you angry to read? I gotta admit, it is a little scary to publish. But I am feeling feisty today, so I am going with it. And more than feisty…I 100% believe in this. You see, I have heard and read the “girl power encouragement” that is floating around out there, and while most of it is wonderful, some of it makes me incredibly uncomfortable, as I think of all the young women who are embracing these statements as truth: You are the hero of your story. You are in control of your life. Because, I swear on my love of chips and salsa, sweet friends, this is simply not true.

In Laura Story’s book, When God Doesn’t Fix It, she asks us to think about the characters in the stories in the Bible.“Their stories aren’t in the Bible because these characters are heroes. Their stories are in the Bible because God is the hero of their stories.” [1] She asks us to really think about it, pointing us to Daniel being saved from the lions, and to Noah who was saved from the flood. Were Daniel and Noah the heroes? Or was it God, the Great I AM who swooped on in and did the saving?  Every story you read in the Bible points to one hero, and that hero is never us. It is God. This life we are living? This story of ours? It is God’s story. And we are not called to control it or re-write it. But we are called to be a part of it. And it starts with surrender.

If you are like me; if you struggle with understanding your place in God’s story, and the idea of surrendering with a childlike faith, might I suggest we do a few things together. Why together? Because I like your company, that’s why. And…we can hold one another accountable. Plus, we don’t even like to go into a public bathroom without bringing a friend along, so why should growing deeper in our faith be any different? But as I was saying…here are three things we can do together to develop a childlike faith:

The first?

I think we need to start by praying for bravery.

In the Walking with Purpose six-week study, Living In The Father’s Love (LIFL), author Lisa Brenninkmeyer reminds us that “Living a life that says ‘yes’ to God and His purposes requires bravery.”[2]  And so let’s pray for that. Let’s ask for the courage to not be the dead fish that goes with the flow, but to be the strong, brave fish, that swims against the tide. Any decision we make out of fear is the wrong decision. So let’s pray to be brave…Daniel and the Lion kind of brave…and let’s see how our hero comes through and saves us. Because He always does. He always will.

The second thing we need to do?

I think we ought to read HIS story, to understand our place in it.

Remember…my son trusted me to buckle him up and send him on his way with zero idea of where he was going, because he knew me so well. How well do we know our Father?  How certain are you of His love for you? Sure, we can all recite “God is Love,” but what does this really mean to you? Honestly. Do you believe that God the Father adores you? That He will go the long haul for you? That there is nothing you have done, or will do that will ever change how He feels about you? That He has a unique and divine purpose for your life? That you are beautiful, worthy, and forgiven? Do you believe this?

Because I think these are the real questions that women who are struggling ask.  In Chapter 2 of Living in the Father’s Love, Lisa assures us that, “The more we are rooted in a deep understanding of just how crazy God is about each one of His Daughters, the better we will be able to wrestle through these questions.” [3] This is such an important chapter with an honest-to-goodness life changing teaching. Lisa walks us through the beautiful truths of God, who He is, and how very much He is for us. Sweet friends, we will never, ever trust God if we are unable to list His faithful characteristics and promises. I highly encourage you to go back to this section, which challenges us to seek God’s motive in relationship with each of us, to literally list the characteristics of love and God as found in 1 John 4:16, to make a conscious effort to reject any lies or half-truths that might be keeping us from trusting God with a childlike sincerity. [4] This chapter is so good I just scheduled an appointment at my local tattoo parlor to have it written in permanent ink on my entire left leg.

And the third thing?

We need to get to know our WWP Patron Saint a little bit better. Or a lot better, even.

There is no better example of embracing a life of surrender and childlike faith, than sweet Saint Therese, whose Feast Day is October 1; I am giving you permission to go buy yourself a dozen red roses and an 8 inch chocolate cake on that day to celebrate.  In Chapter 1 of LIFL, appropriately titled, The Beauty of a Childlike Faith, Lisa directs us to the words of this amazing young woman, in an effort to accept that we are not in charge.

“I desire neither suffering nor death, yet I love both; but it is love alone which attracts me. Now it is the abandonment alone that guides me. I have no other compass. My heart is full of the will of Jesus.”[5]

Oh, how I pray we can all say these words along with Saint Therese, and mean them….my heart is full of the will of Jesus. Because this? This, sweet friends, is the answer to all those doubts and fears that keep us awake at night. This is the answer to what is my purpose, and does God really love me? This right here is the answer to every single obstacle that stands in the way of our unclenching our fists and dropping our arms and resting peacefully in the center of God’s will.

May we have no other compass, as we surrender to our guide – bravely taking our place in HIS story as we come to know and live in the Father’s love.

Saint Therese, pray for us.

With faith in the hero of our story,

Laura

PS: You don’t have a copy of the WWP six week study Living In The Father’s Love? That’s okay! Just click here to purchase! And while you are at it, why not enjoy our LIFL playlist while reading more about our Patron Saint here!

 

[1]Laura Story, When God Doesn’t Fix It (Thomas Nelson, 2005), 186

[2]Lisa Brenninkmeyer, Living In The Father’s Love (Walking With Purpose, 2010-2015), 33

[3]Lisa Brenninkmeyer, Living In The Father’s Love (Walking With Purpose, 2010-2015)

[4]Lisa Brenninkmeyer, Living In The Father’s Love (Walking With Purpose, 2010-2015), 26

[5]Lisa Brenninkmeyer, Living In The Father’s Love (Walking With Purpose, 2010-2015) d’Elbee, I Believe In Love, 86-7.