Father Damien shared with the staff that through prayer, he had received “Surrendering to Jesus” as the theme for our Parish this Lent. I started looking inward at what I struggle the hardest to surrender to Our Lord.
For me, vulnerability feels like surrendering my safety and control. I felt that by letting people into my brokenness, my flaws and my weaknesses, that I would be rejected and be seen as a burden-or worse-unqualified as a daughter, employee, friend and theologian. The last thing I wanted to come from my experiment was abandonment and rejection. I genuinely feared that if Father Damien, my parents, my friends and my co-workers knew the demons I fought, I would be cast aside. If they knew I had specific needs, I would be too much of a burden.
After being overcome with these fears, I started the “Surrender Novena” a nine day prayer where you repeat ten times “Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything.” During that prayer, you offer up your needs and promise the Lord that He has control.
As I walked with Jesus in this surrender, I noticed some tools that were helpful in self-discovery and growing deeper in vulnerability and trusting in our Lord. May these tools help you this Lent as you embark on your adventure towards vulnerability and surrender.
1) In prayer, understand your powerlessness and find peace in silence. Sometimes, what we really need is quiet. In a world where we are overwhelmed, finding time to sit with the Holy Spirit and breath is a necessary first step in surrendering. God becomes a safe place for us to unwind and bare our struggles without judgment or condemnation.
2) Surrendering oneself to Jesus and allowing oneself “to rest.” Our goal as Christians is to make prayer a resting place for the soul. I often see prayer as a way to unwind after a long day. How do you unwind after a long day? And how can you incorporate prayer into unwinding after a long day. Even having a casual conversation with Christ as you start to fall asleep and allowing Jesus to rest with you is one way to surrender to Jesus and allow for a deeper intimacy in you and His relationship.
3) Do not get discouraged, Christ is present with you even when you feel He isn’t or your prayer feels fruitless. Not all of our needs can be met immediately. Often times, life is like a tapestry, where events lead to events which lead you to an answer to prayer. Often times, I hear couples in marriage prep admit that had they not made a specific set of choices throughout their life, they would have never met their spouse. This shows that the Holy Spirit knows your heart’s desires before you do, and works through each of your choices to answer your prayer. Often times, it can feel like God is ignoring you, when in fact, He started answering your prayers before you were born. “Before you were formed in the womb, I knew you.”(Jer. 1:15)