Happy Christmas: Musical Reflections 11: For the Surrendered

Hearts unfold like flowers before thee

I love flowers.

I’m not super skilled at keeping them alive, but my heart is made happy by bright colors and scents that are inviting.

It’s an interesting thing to watch flowers bloom—to see them move from a closed state to one of openness. Both are beautiful, but there is something awe-inspiring about a flower in an open position.

A flower unfolded-in full array- is its way of being in full glory.

Being what it was designed to be.

As believers, are we called to the same?

This lyric leads us to believe so.

What does a heart unfolded unto the Lord look like,

Sound like,

Act like?

The words that come to mind as I think about what an open heart is like are vulnerable and surrendered.

Vulnerability is defined as exposed.

It’s interesting when I read the definition.

I equate vulnerability to strength, thanks to the work of Brene Brown and my education as a therapist. It’s what I want from and for my clients—the art of being open—to themselves, to others and to the Lord.

But, according to Merriam-Webster, the description appears negative.

It indicates risk and danger and neediness.

None of those words are ones I eagerly or willingly chose to be.

I hate fear and I’ve experienced a lot of it throughout most of my life.

I aim for toughness, sturdiness, confidence. But no matter what I do—my voice and hands and legs shake when pressed hard by something.

I don’t like to be needy—I like to be useful, easy, flexible, and self-sufficient. Both the achiever and the pleaser in me like the posture of each of those words. But needy—feels like a threat.

I think the ticket to vulnerability requires a sense of security.

A security that this world doesn’t offer,

And even the most stable of relationships often doesn’t—can’t ongoingly. Again, even the sweetest of human loves—someone dies first (sorry, Debbie Downer up in here).

But this lyric is calling us to be open to the Lord above.

That’s different, right?

Song of Solomon 2:14 “O, my dove in the clefts of the rock, in the crevices of the cliff, let me see your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet and your countenance is lovely.”

This verse in the famous Song of Solomon articulates a lover calling to his love.

He is beckoning her to let him see her—hear her—to be open with him.

He invites her to this by speaking tenderly to her and encouraging her.

He is not demanding.

He is not demeaning.

He is gentle.

He is kind.

He offers a felt safety that allows for this kind of vulnerability.

The Lord is different—than even the best of loves.

Our openness and vulnerability is enabled and supported by the tenderness and strength of the One we open to.

And surrendered—this is my least favorite word maybe in all of history. My Christian cuss word.

Again Merriam-Webster identifies the negative.

To cease resistance to an enemy or opponent and submit to their authority.

My therapist once asked me why I hated the word surrender.

I told her, It feels like giving up-losing, and I don’t do that.

The thing is—what Merriam-Webster and I got wrong,

Is the One we are called to surrender to is not the enemy.

Giving up or giving in, when it comes to the perfect, holy, and warring for our good God, isn’t losing.

It’s winning (albeit, often through losing).

It’s ceasing to resist the One who knows better how to fight for us.

Letting ourselves be what we are—dependent creatures to the all-knowing, unending, boundless, perfect God.

Relinquishing the right to our own path, so we can have the one mapped out for us in all the glory of eternity by the One around whom all things center…including us.

I chose the word Surrender as my word of the year last year.

In many ways, it came through me giving up. I had walked through 3 of the most difficult years of my life, I got to the end of 2021 and I hadn’t had time to really reflect on what the Lord was teaching me. I was surviving. I honestly got to the end of the year and thought,

Well, forget it. I might as well choose this word because You seem bound and determined to shake my world. I cannot seem to control anything, so fine. You win.

It really was a giving up and in. It came through fatigue and a feeling of defeat.

And I was angry about it.

In previous years, I have shared that the Word I chose for the year tended to be accompanied by a shadow word—a word I could not have anticipated or planned for and was the means by which the Lord taught me the primary word.

This year, my shadow word was sweet.

The Lord equipped me to surrender by showing me how sweet He is.

A few glimpses of His sweetness to me…

  • Teaching me to hear Him—confirming things again and again so I could learn to listen the 1st time
  • The provision of friendship—some new, some old—all beautifully placed for my good.
  • Work that I love—a new role that I truly don’t think I could improve upon.
  • Moving back into my home
  • The kindness of a stranger who helped me feel safe when I had a gas leak and coached me how to stay safe
  • Financial provision—each time a new hiccup arose, the Lord showed me how He would provide
  • Sister time—enjoyed a sweet weekend with my sister and her precious family.
  • Hosting—I got to have people in my home again. Meghan and Mason, the Clarks, my niece. It has been a fun and beautiful thing to offer hospitality to those I love so dearly.
  • Travel—I went to Waco, Boerne, Wimberly, New York City, Pennsylvania, Florida, Indianna, San Antonio and again back to Waco.
  • Baths under the stars—sounds weird but it was as close to Eden I think I may ever get until I am called home to Heaven. Thank you Spoon Mountain Glamping.
  • Sunrises at the beach.
  • Watching a friend marry the love of her life—congrats Jordan and Scott.
  • Getting to write again.
  • Mornings with worship and candles and dreamy windows.

He was sweet to me—in ways I cannot fully count or acknowledge.

And in being who He is, my heart has slowly softened—opened.

There was still hardship.

There were still deep, dark moments—some even darker than the previous years.

But, I experienced them differently. Because I experienced Him differently.

I have found a new way of being with the Lord that is more apt to run to Him versus shutting Him out and walling up behind my pride and sadness.

I hope this is only the edge of the beauty of what unfolding is like…

As I begin to get used to softness, neediness and openness,

I trust the Lord will take me to new heights and depths with Him.

There will be loss—

There will be risk.

But I get Him.

Lord, enable our hearts to unfold to you. Teach us the art of openness and surrender.

Xo

Crystal

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