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On Love and Surrender

3 January 2013
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It took four days for me to let go. Or start letting go, at least.

“Samuel” means “asked of the Lord.”

We asked of the Lord for three and a half years, which is why “Samuel” remained one of two options for our little guy’s name the day we met him.

The verse everyone in our situation likes to quote and cross-stitch and photograph and hang on nursery walls is 1 Samuel 1:27,

“For this child I prayed, and the LORD has given me my petition which I asked of Him.”

It’s a feel-good Bible verse. The next verse, though, less so,

“So I have also dedicated him to the LORD; as long as he lives he is dedicated to the LORD.”

Some translations say, “lent him.” Some say, “given him.” And the story goes that Hannah left Samuel in the temple that day to be raised by the priest in the service of God.

I have a really hard time with that. Hannah was a better woman than I am.

We prayed those verses in the hours and days following Niah’s birth. Husband did. And I agreed and “Amen”-ed.

Half-heartedly

Because, honestly, I didn’t want to give him, or even lend him, to anyone. I waited a long time for this boy. I endured the worst pain I will probably ever experience for this boy, and I am fiercely in love with this boy. He’s mine. Ours, even – I could allow him to be ours, but still mostly mine.

And I knew no one was asking me to leave him in a monastery somewhere. I knew he would still be my son, my charge, my boy (mine and Husband’s, of course) – but Hannah presented a challenge I was not willing to meet. Could I, in my heart, give him back to God?

I knew I should. I knew the right thing to say was, “Yes” and “Amen,” but I couldn’t really let go. How could I? He’s a piece of me. He’s the best thing I’ve ever done, and just looking at him I know he’s the best of me. How do you part with that? Just the thought of it conjured up a heartache I didn’t know existed.

Day four we were home. He was napping. I was watching. And suddenly, I was so aware of how incapable I am of protecting him like I want to, of providing for him like I want to, of loving him like I want to. I was suddenly so aware that I don’t have what it takes to teach him what he really needs to know, or to help him become the man he was designed to become.

And I took a deep breath to stifle the sob that was welling up in my eyes, and I whispered verse 28 for the first time – not in relent or defeat, but in desperation.

Please take him. Please keep him. Please love him and guide him and protect him and be with him like only You can.

I am such a screw-up. I have failed and quit so many times. My faith is weak. My pride is disgusting. My goodness is filthy, but I know that You won’t take it out on him. I know that in You, he won’t answer for my offenses and if that were all You did for him it would be more than enough but if it’s true that You will take all of him, please take all of him.

Guard him. Teach him. Be near to him.

I love him with everything that I am, and I will do my absolute best for him with every breath. But my love is insufficient and my best is not enough, so please – and I can’t even say it isn’t a selfish request, but please – take all of him.

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