I can't handle it myself. The moment of surrender came in January of my junior year of college. I was emotionally overwhelmed with a relationship situation. I kept telling myself and my friends that “I should be able to handle my own problems.” Yet, I felt unable to do just that. The old adage “God helps those who help themselves” would define my philosophy of life and God. I knew He was there, but didn’t feel like I should bother Him with my little problems.
One night I was walking back to the house where I rented a room. I was terrified by a thought that whizzed through my mind, “What would happen if I threw myself out in front of that car?” That made it absolutely clear to me that I was not handling my own problems well at all! As soon as I got back to my room I knelt by my bed and prayed, “God, I can’t handle it by myself anymore! I need your help!” The next day I made an appointment with a school counselor.
You usually can't see change while it’s happening. I think I saw the counselor twice. I talked a lot and don’t remember most of what I said, but the second time I saw him I remember telling him that I felt better able to handle all that was happening in my life. When he asked me why, I told him that my faith had really grown and I was aware that God was helping me.
My life was in the process of changing dramatically, but I didn't realize it at the time. Over a series of months, my relationship with God became the central point of my life. So much changed inside of me, but it wasn't until much later that I could point back to that prayer by my bed as the absolute starting point of the change.
I am responsible for how I respond to life. A few weeks after that walk across the street, the college choir I sang with took a trip and I experienced a major moment in that process of dramatic change. I was sitting in the back of the bus crying about who-knows-what. As I cried I suddenly realized that I had been miserable for a long time and it had been my choice to be so. It was near Ash Wednesday and I decided that I was giving up being miserable for Lent. I know it sounds silly, but I did it. I began to make response choices that kept me from being miserable. It became a habit that I don’t regret developing. There did come a point where I had to learn the balance between being honest about negative feelings and ignoring them, but the most important lesson was that my response is my choice.
Dear friend, I challenge you to reach the absolute starting point and admit that you can’t handle life on your own. God is waiting to change your life in ways that you can’t imagine and won’t notice right away, but I can guarantee that you will never regret it. It’s your responsibility to respond. Are you up to the challenge?