Oft times you'll hear of someone undergoing surgery for one thing but, while they're under the anesthesia, the surgeon deems it necessary or prudent to take care of something else additionally. Maybe it's life-altering, requiring an immediate decision. And other times the discovery is simply a matter of, "well, while we're in here, let's just clean up this scar tissue."
In the case of soul surgery, one doesn't generally know why the Surgeon is taking His time or even that He is doing more work than previously anticipated. You've been there, I'm certain. I know that I have. If you've been with us for the first two weeks of this Soul Surgery series, you know of one such experience I've encountered personally. You know, the kind of surgery that you dread having, but ultimately surrender to? Yea, that was me just a few years ago. And in some ways, I still feel a little like I'm "under".
I remember feeling frustrated. Not angry. But definitely uncomfortable and irritated. As is the case with most Enneagram One's, I had this shouting Inner Critic, never releasing me to feel how I really wanted to feel, or think the way I really wanted to think. Oh, some days I allowed myself the privilege of just feeling "put out" and event gave in to talking to someone about it. But for the most part, I knew deep inside that I should be completely content; that I should be grateful that my husband was busy in the work of the ministry, and that I should be overjoyed with staying behind to wipe noses, calm toddler tantrums, potty train, and fixing meals that little people refused to eat. And on my more spiritually-maturish days, I was indeed content, grateful, and overjoyed.
But on my lesser-character days, I would talk excessively and aggressively to the Holy Spirit while washing dishes, folding laundry, and driving to church to sit alone once again. Sometimes it was difficult to distinguish between the voices of the Inner Critic, the enemy himself, or the Holy Spirit because they all sounded a little like my own thoughts. Sound familiar? The kind of thoughts that make you sorry for feeling sorry for yourself? (You Ennea-One's completely get what I'm saying right about now.)
And then one day I just surrendered. I went from feeling like a two-year-old violently resisting the trappings of the high chair or car seat straps to nestling into the assuring and cozy lap of my Father. Sure, I was still frustrated occasionally. But overall I was realizing just what He was trying to do in that Operating Room. You see, the Surgeon wasn't necessarily trying to remove things from me. He was actually attempting to give life to something deep within my spirit.
Before we hyper-spiritualize this visual ecstasy I am describing, let me remind you that I was in a season of waiting due to a natural season of life. I wasn't being "sat down" by the Holy Spirit or "put out to pasture" by my husband, the Church, or even my own doing. I was following the natural course of a season of life that required my husband to continue in a call to ministry that we had both agreed to from Day One, as well as our mutual decision to have children. Our oldest daughter needed the structure that came with a classroom and that obviously required her to attend a school. No, this season wasn't sent by God. But it didn't escape Him either. In fact, He capitalized on it. And I was His willing, albeit sometimes irritable, patient.
It is now with fondness that I look back on that section of time with nostalgia. I sigh as I think of the beauty that I discovered throughout the painful surgery and the days of rest that followed. Although I felt like a Martha forced to sit down with Mary, eventually I came to relish in the reverie that came with soaking in His presence. Most days I would drop my oldest off at school, return home with our younger daughter, and find a place of quiet during her morning nap. After the younger started to preschool a few days a week, I found myself anxious to return to the now quiet stillness of our home, clamoring for the Spirit's affection and digging into His Word and His presence.
From that season Sanctuary was birthed. From that season a depth of the Spirit and growth in wisdom and knowledge was forged. And from that season came a spiritual warrior that wouldn't back down, even in the face of some of our harder battles just ahead.
Friend, I don't know where you find yourself today. But if you're wrestling against the anesthesia of a surgery for which you never signed on, hear this friend of yours divvying up the almost cliche catchphrase of encouragement: you'll be all the better for it on the other side. The Lord may not have ordered the surgery, but He is undoubtedly equipped for the procedure. Surrender, dear one. A soul at rest heals much more efficiently.
Surrender to Surgery is Entry THREE in Sanctuary's blog series for March, Soul Surgery. Don't miss the series' finale as Bridgette highlights the decisions she made "post-op".
Bridgette Tomlin, founder of Sanctuary, is a wife, mother of two girls, and 'minister of the et cetera' alongside her husband, Chresten from Tulsa, Oklahoma. She loves a great cup of steaming hot tea, the blessing of quiet spaces where she can think now and again, and the art of a handwritten note. While she's a vocalist, speaker, writer, and administrator, Bridgette's heart is fully engaged in connecting every woman to their God-given call and gifts with authentic candor. You can follow her blog from their ministry site.