I abandon myself into your hands; do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you:
I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only your will be done in me, and in all your creatures.
I wish no more than this, O Lord.
Into your hands I commend my soul;
I offer it to you
with all the love of my heart,
for I love you, Lord,
and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands,
and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father.
[Prayer of Abandonment adapted from Charles de Foucauld]
* * *
This morning during my hour of prayer, I tried to come to some level of abandonment to my heavenly Father. It was a hard struggle since so much in me wants to do my will, realize my plans, organize my future, and make decisions. Still, I know that true joy comes from letting God love me the way God wants, whether it is through illness or health, failure or success, poverty or wealth, rejection or praise. It is hard for me to say, “I shall gratefully accept everything, Lord, that pleases you. Let your will be done.” But I know that when I truly believe my Father is pure love, it will become increasingly possible to say these words from the heart.
[Henri Nouwen, from The Road to Daybreak: A Spiritual Journey]
* * *
I’m a pretty easygoing person most of the time, but as a recovering perfectionist, I have my control-freak moments (maybe you can relate). In particular, I’ve passed plenty of hours working out the details of a Life Plan. Maybe this is symptomatic of years spend in academe, planning a major, assembling a graduate plan of study, filling out applications, and the like. Maybe it’s a personality quirk.
Regardless, I’ve spent a lot of time making plans, and the thing about all this plan-making and list-writing is that sometimes I start to think I’m in control of my life, and that I really know best—after all, it’s my life we’re talking about, right? When my plans seem to be working out, a prayer of abandonment becomes more and more difficult to say. “Thy will be done” is a hard phrase when God’s will doesn’t align neatly with the plans I’ve drawn.
This is an old and oft-told tale: of course things happen and my carefully-laid plans are upended—and most always for the better, though sometimes it takes me a while to see the upending as such. The God-shatters-my-plans-for-something-so-much-better thing has happened enormously and frequently enough, though, that I hope I am learning to inch toward this abandonment of my will to God’s.
Alissa Goudswaard lives in Lafayette, Indiana, where she is completing her MA in rhetoric and composition, baking all the cupcakes, and attempting to teach herself guitar. Find this Calvin-grad-turned-stark-raving-Episcopalian online at http://episcotheque.wordpress.com/ and on Twitter as @episcotheque.