Monday, October 22, 2007

Surrender

C.S. Lewis said, "We are all female before God."

Friends of mine who struggle with their faith right now, in fact, may even be devoid in any faith, except in themselves, shared that they had demanded and confronted God, wanting answers. I gave that idea much thought. It's certainly Biblical. Jacob wrestled with the Angel of the Lord, desiring to be blessed and he was rewarded for his prolonged cage match. To men, the concept of struggle, physical domination and aggression is more natural. As providers and protectors and as the pursuers (often) in relationships, they naturally go for it.

Women in contrast, are physically weaker, must rely on other forms of conflict resolution and find that they often have to surrender control to get what they want. And here, I'm talking specifically, sexually. No woman can force an orgasm. A man can make it happen. A woman must allow it to happen. It is a huge difference in physiology and psychology.

Women must also surrender to birthing. It is my belief that many women schedule their C-sections, even though perfectly healthy, because they are in no way interested in surrendering the control to give birth. A woman, drug-free, cannot give birth without giving it up. It just won't happen.

To know God, though, struggle must sometimes be secondary to surrender. Sometimes, we must let the spirit wash over and through us. If we think about it, many of the best experiences in life aren't the ones we control or dominate. Often, they're the happy accidents, the moments of fate that seem so perfect and wonderful. The breath-taking sunset with the cool sand under our feet and the waves lapping ashore. A gentle rain where the sun shines through producing a vibrant rainbow. A child's laugh. A piece of music sung perfectly. During these times, we feel grounded yet free, strangely connected to our fellow man, full of love for all that we've been given, resplendent in the joy of being.

In those moments, even a skeptic wonders about God.

So much of our understanding of God is filtered through our own experience and perspective. My notions of God have evolved significantly especially since I've had children. My jealous, consuming love for them has put God in a whole new perspective. I understand his lust for vengeance a whole lot better. My own mother-bearishness is fearsome to behold. It's instinctual and immediate when a threat presents itself. God loves me that much? He surely demonstrated his fury when His children were threatened or hurt.

And this was the same God who gave His only begotten Son that NONE should perish but have everlasting life. Now that, I have an almost impossible time understanding, except that as the Father of us all, He knew He would lose all of us without His beloved Son.

Giving birth helped me to understand the notion of giving up and letting go and facing death so my child could live. Psalms 23:4:

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
A woman giving birth feels like she is walking through the valley of the shadow of death. In more primitive cultures, the ritual of a young man going on a hunt was akin to the woman giving birth for the first time. Facing death, living fully, almost recklessly, coming to the brink not knowing how it will turn out, risking it and possibly dying in the process--so you can live. Birth.

It is also rebirth. Being Born Again is likewise embracing life, fully, willing to give up the physical life if necessary to life fully forever. Like giving birth, it is a daunting notion. To hunt down and slay our own desires, to give and sacrifice and love another. The abandonment of lovemaking doesn't even come close. Giving birth is a shadow. Ritual sacrifice barely touches the notion. Being a living sacrifice, surrendering to a Power you can't see and trust is there.

So often, Christian surrender happens backwards. That is, we don't feel it. At least we don't feel it like we feel a baby's soft, perfect skin. We don't feel it like we see the tangible results of a successful hunt. Surrendering to God means sometimes obeying what seem like impossible commands. And we're not the first to think that it's an impossible quest--this surrender.

The solution may be to obey and understand later. This requires faith. It requires staying open to the possibilities. Like a woman in a lovemaking session, ecstasy is not guaranteed. It is guaranteed to never happen, though, if it's never tried. During our Christian walk, sublimating our ways and elevating Godly ways takes faith. But like all things, with practice, understanding, even ecstasy comes. And just as often, it's mind-blowing and transcendent and strangely surprising. It's new every time.

Rather than wrestling God, consider surrender. We're all female before God's mighty sword, as C.S. Lewis noted. And true communion with light and truth is impossible without surrender.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I wonder if now that most men don't take so many physical risks..like going to war, working on coal mines, etc..that women at some unconscious level feel that THEY shouldn't have to take the risks of childbirth..and when fewer women do so, then more MEN will be disinclined to take risks and endure suffering.

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your friends struggle and suffering. I will hold him/her up in my prayers.

They are blessed to be able to verbalize that to someone though so they can hear themselves articulate that and listen to their words to see if that is what they really believe.

Anonymous said...

I do think there is a parallel between childbirth-childrearing and military service: The willingness to give up one's own safety and comfort when you could easily avoid it.

Personally, I failed to do either, but admire those who did. By the time I understood it (maybe not coincidentally several years after joining a church) it was too late.

Melissa Clouthier said...

Anon 2:28,

I wasn't saying that going to war or being in the military was akin to the process of childbirth but the fear-inducing experience of going on a hunt against (say a Bison) an animal that can kill you. In order to survive, the hunter (primitive society, armed with a spear) must face death. Trying to be careful will cause him to die too....of starvation. So, the successful hunter will have to go through the fear to survive and sometimes, rarely, lose his life so that others may live.

Sharon said...

Really enjoyed your post. Thought-provoking, definitely!

sandy said...

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