charlie's song

Surrender Jar

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Today we visited the cemetery as a family.  As we pulled into the driveway I overheard Freddo’s sweet little voice saying, “Charlie died.  He’s in the grass.”  I knew at that moment it was not going to be an easy visit for me.  What I didn’t expect was how difficult the day would be for our tender hearted Emma Leigh.  The last time we visited Charlie’s grave the kids seemed sad, but they didn’t say too much as we talked and prayed and read our “Heaven” book as a family.  This time though, from the moment we got there until the moment we left, sweet Emma just cried and cried.  Finally she said to me, “I don’t want to leave him here!  Why can’t we take Charlie home Mommy?”  I thought my heart was literally going to break.  There is so much to surrender day after day, and sometimes the hardest thing to surrender is that all of the people I love most are now in a constant state of pain.  It is just so difficult watching a five-year-old weeping by the grave of her baby brother.  This would be hard for me to watch no matter who it was but she is my daughter, weeping over my baby.

I just keep thinking of all that has been lost.  Loss, after loss, after loss.  All those moments.  All those memories.  One time I was playing the Question Game on a staff retreat and we were asked the question “If you could have an endless supply of something for the rest of your life what would that something be?”  My first thought was massages.  Every day.  Yes, please.  But do you know what one guy on my staff team replied?  Memories.”  He’s a dad to three beautiful kids, and he said he would chose an endless supply of memories.  Ever since Charlie died there has been a permanent ache in our hearts at all of the lost memories we will never have with our fourth baby.  I feel like we got on the very wrong side (the very far extreme) of that answer to the question game.  We now have to live without a LIFETIME of memories.  It. Just. Stinks.

Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed by all of the things that we need to grieve.  But these moments and memories need to be more than just grieved, they need to be surrendered to the Lord.  Daily.  And so, we decided that as certain things come up that we feel are the hardest to surrender, we would just write them down and put them in our blue Mason “Surrender Jar” as a family.  It has been healing to write down some of these longings I’ve been carrying around inside of me, but as I was writing today I realized, “Ok…if I put this in this Surrender Jar I need to process what it means between me and the Lord as I actually surrender these longings.”  The Surrender Jar can’t just be a jar full of things that make me sad, or things I’m mad at God for taking away.  It really needs to be a jar full of things I am trusting Him with.  Daily.  One step at a time.  Some things in fact, will probably end up in there twice.  Or three times.  Or a hundred maybe.

When we were in the hospital and they gave me a picture of Charlie’s hand prints, I just lost it.  I had really wanted to hold those tiny hands.  To put band aids on them and kiss each pain away.  I thought I had processed the hand holding longing, but then I was on a walk with the kids the other day and Freddo said, “Mommy, can I hold your hand?  I sure like holding your hand.”  Instantly, I thought to myself for the hundredth time how much I wanted to hold hands with my Charlie.  And so I put it back in the Surrender Jar.  It hurts so much more to actually stop and say, “I wanted this.”  It’s like writing it down is actually acknowledging on paper that this moment that I longed for with my baby is never coming.

But in saying, “God, I wanted this,” I am also acknowledging what has been lost…in the Presence of the One who can actually meet me in that longing.  Not by giving it to me.  But by being there with me.  I love how Psalm 34:18 says that, “The LORD is near to the broken hearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”  As I write down things like, “Holding Charlie’s hands” on a little slip of paper I am also praying that the Lord will be near to me in those millions of painful surrender moments that come in a lifetime without our baby.  And that…is the essence of Prayer.  I realized tonight as I filled our Surrender Jar that most times when we pray to God what we are actually doing is telling God what we are hoping He will do to change things.  Change my circumstance.  Change me.  Change the people around me.  But this time I can’t pray, “God please let me hold my babies hand.”  This side of Heaven…that will not be happening.  Death is so permanent that when you pray about what has been lost…not even God is going to “give you back” those things.

I can’t even pray “God please take away this longing to live life with Charlie.”  It would be a ridiculous thing to pray anyway.  I am Charlie’s Mommy, and I will always be.  I will always miss my baby boy, and weep for the life we will not have with him this side of eternity.  But I can pray, “Here is my heart, Lord.  Please meet me.  This cannot be fixed, but that wasn’t why I was coming to You in the first place.”  What I am saying to Him now is, “Please be near me in my unmet longings.”  And that…is Surrender.  I’m not good at it.  I can’t even wrap up this post with a big red bow and tell you how great this surrender thing is going.  But I can tell you that He is near, and that His nearness is enough to keep trusting Him for tomorrow, and for a lifetime of Surrender Jar days.

The week after Charlie was born the Lord brought to my mind an old worship song called “I Surrender.”  I love how it says, “I’m giving you my heart, and all that is within.”  When we come to Jesus and chose for the very first time to put our trust in Him that is essentially what we are saying right?  We are saying, “Father, I give You my heart.  I surrender trusting in my righteousness and place my trust in the righteousness of Christ.”  Our hearts are really the very first thing we put in the Surrender Jar.  And then, by faith we give Him the “all that is within” part…for the rest of our lives.  We surrender to Him over and over again one unmet longing at a time.  We surrender to Him knowing that some day, what He had planned and chose to do in our Surrender Jar days will be such a glorious thing that it will make perfect sense of our broken, messy Surrender Jar lives.

I’m giving You my heart
All that is within
I lay it all down
For the sake of You my King
I’m giving You my dreams laying down my rights
I’m giving up my pride
For the promise of new life

And I Surrender
All to You, all to You

I’m singing You this song
I’m waiting at the Cross
All the world holds dear
I count it all as loss
For the sake of knowing You
For the glory of Your name
To know the lasting joy
Even sharing in Your pain

And I Surrender
All to You, all to You

His, Misty

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One thought on “Surrender Jar

  1. My heart broke thinking about Emma wanting to take her baby brother home. Ugh. How did you even move after that moment? You and Reid are doing such a great job leading your kids in this as you grieve yourselves. Praying for Emma’s little heart and for all of your hearts. And I just love the surrender jar!!! Love you!

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