I attended a retreat shortly after I had just been diagnosed with cancer in my right kidney. When I asked God what needed healing the most he said, “Let go of your need to control.”
My friend D.C. sent a text message to me early on in the retreat. Why I even checked the phone was nothing but God—I was on retreat for heaven’s sake! Her text read, “At the root of wanting to be in control (ie: control how you will be healed) is FEAR! Juanita, what are you really in fear of? I don’t need the answer but you do. Love you girl!”
Had she been listening in on my conversations with God?
I asked God what was I afraid of and I heard “being hurt.” I needed emotional healing from a previous hospital trauma. My lung was punctured during a bronchoscope. So, yeah, He was right, I can totally identify with not wanting to be hurt.
I took that to prayer and wrestled with it like Jesus at Gethsemane. I asked God to come in and bring the healing that I needed. I felt a sense of agony. I felt anxious, cheated and defeated.
D.C. texted me again and said she heard “You are not being honest with God, tell him everything He’s a big boy.”
Flooded by emotions I asked God, Why didn’t you protect me, keep me safe? All I have ever tried to do was to please you and you allowed that to happen to me—why?
I don’t think that I had ever questioned why or even really looked at my feelings, probably because I didn’t want to be disappointed. Probably because I didn’t want to hear that I wasn’t a “good girl”.
D.C. texted again, “And that’s how you feel now. God is silent because God wants you to talk. All last week God kept telling me that trust is developed in the silence. I’m starting to understand.”
D.C. sent no further texts.
I asked God, What do I need to know?
God clearly spoke to my heart “You are loved, deeply loved and only in fantasy worlds does suffering not exist. In this world you will have tribulation but be of good cheer for I have overcome the world and so have you. You have not been abandoned by your heavenly father. I was there all the time keeping watch over you, protecting you, guiding the hands of those who were there to serve you in your recovery. Things happen, Juanita, cosmic things. “Accidents.” People crash into each other; the doctor crashed into you, can you forgive him?
Can you give him his humanity, his flaws even in his best self? You are like him! That is the state of humanity, personality, good days, not so good days. Release him and let him go.
So I began to pray “Father by the power of my will I chose to release him. I chose to forgive him for not telling me what had happened and sending me home as though everything was okay. I chose to release him today. Father, help me release myself from the crazy high expectations that I have often set for myself and imposed on others in an attempt to stay safe. Thank you for the awareness of Your power, love and security in the midst of whatever condition I find myself in.”
So write me about your Lent or Gethsemane experience. How did you get to the not my will but thy will be done that Jesus wrestled through? Tell me. I wanna know.
For help in letting go of unforgiveness: “The Forgiveness Prayer” by Father Robert De Grandis.
For help navigating the practice of silence check out Silence and Stillness in Every Season—Daily Readings with John Main, Edited by Paul Harris
Have you wrestled with letting go, like Juanita has? What was the result?
Is there anything that God has asked you to let go this Lenten season? How has that been going?
Juanita Campbell Rasmus is an inspirational speaker, motivational teacher, author, and founding board member of the Bread of Life Homeless Project. Juanita and her husband Rudy co-pastor Saint John’s United Methodist Church in Houston, Texas.