On the day my parents brought me home from the hospital, my Dad took a picture of me on their doorstep as if I had been left there for them to find. That oblivious little bundle in the yellow crocheted blanket is me.
(My mother wants to make sure that all of you to know that I was not found on their doorstep.)
This image, though, always serves to remind me of the vulnerable and holy posture of total abandonment to God. Of laying ourselves down with the complete resignation that nothing is sufficient to enable us to do God’s will unless He himself helps us to do it.
Dan Burke recently wrote in a post on the Apostoli Viae website, “When we abandon ourselves to Him, even when our abandonment is profound, it will never be enough. However, with His grace, even the tiniest speck of faith and commitment can move a mountain.”
There are two things at play here. One is our radical surrender and self-emptying, our stripping ourselves of any pretense that we have or are anything good apart from God.
The other is the belief that God will come through for us and give us graces to cooperate with Him in extraordinary ways. He will call us to be magnanimous and great-hearted and plunge into the work of redeeming the world for Christ. We may teeter uncertainly on the cliff, yet He will hold His hands out to us, ready to catch us. When it is His will, if we act in faith in Him and not in ourselves, we have nothing to fear. It is trust to the tenth degree.
What is His will? That’s a good question. Certain things are more clear: Is it within the teachings of the Church? Does this compromise my primary vocation? And some things require more careful listening: Is this good and even holy thing the best thing for me to be doing right now?
One key to discernment is detachment from even our preferences which allows us to move out of the way enough to see things the way God sees them. And when we can see more clearly what is for His glory, and what will bring about our holiness, we’ll be able to discern our next right thing. We abandon our own desires, wishes, dreams–we lay them down like a baby on His doorstep. And He will bend down to lift them up into something more wonderful than we could have imagined.
A surrendered soul is irresistible to Him. None of us would be able to leave a helpless child placed at our feet. Neither can the Lord leave us when we are weak. It is our very weakness that draws Him to us, that calls to His heart, that urges Him to move into the abyss of our lives and drench us with salvation. Our smallness cries out to Him and He rushes in, whether we feel it or not.
A surrendered soul is irresistible to God.
I have been known in the most exhausting of days to lay on my couch, covered in that same small yellow blanket. It is my physical touch of smallness, helplessness, abandonment. It is my invitation to God to take over. Like a mantle of nothingness draped over my absolute inadequacy.
If anything I do is good or worthy or graceful, it is because He has scooped up His girl on the step and drawn her into His own work, like the child stirring the bowl of brownies – “helping” mom in the kitchen or the boy holding the tool for his dad in the garage. We don’t need them–we could do it faster and better alone– but they need to help us, they need to be close to us, they need to participate in something we are doing or making. Our Dad is building a Kingdom and He is more than capable of doing it alone with just a breath or a word–but He loves us enough to give us a hammer or a flashlight to hold. And all the while, we are being held, too.
That is the love of a Father–that is God’s love for us.
Prayer of Abandonment
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 without reserve,
and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father.
Charles de Foucauld
Image is the author’s own.