Surrendering your own will is the greatest gift you can give

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surrendering your own will
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One of my favorite things about living in eastern Indiana is our long summer evenings. Being so close to the Central time zone, but not yet in it, means that, for a short period of time, twilight lingers until after 10 p.m. That means that generally by around 8:45 p.m., the kids are bathed, brushed, storied, prayed, kissed and tucked up, and I’m out the door for my nightly constitutional. It is a true summertime joy for me — a sanity-reclaiming time of peace and reflection — and I greatly look forward to it.

I had just pulled on my tennis shoes on a recent weeknight when, very unusually, our 2-year-old started screaming. Now this kid is by far the best sleeper we have ever had. He goes to bed like a dream, is a fantastic napper, and sleeps in late. But on this night, he was far from his usual placid self.

I headed to his room, thinking I’d soothe him for a minute, tuck him back up and be on my way. Nothing doing. I tried a few little tricks: getting him a drink, singing a few lines from his favorite song (currently “Da doo ron ron,” naturally), and telling him, very sensibly, that it was time for bed so he needed to lie down and go to sleep. Three strikes. Little arms reached out for Mama from the crib, silhouetted in the light from the setting sun.

And so we rocked in the nursery slider — the same chair I nursed all three of my babies in, the same chair that, in those blurry newborn months, all too often doubled as a bed — and I sang a little more.

I checked my watch. 9:05. A glimmer of hope remained.

But my evening outing was not a priority of my littlest little man. For whatever reason, right then, he needed me. And so I made the decision to surrender. I smiled at him, got his blanket, and we settled down. We had a little chat, mostly about his nose, stuffy from his tears, and he started laughing. We giggled together for several minutes. I kissed him on the nose. I sang him “The Itsy Bitsy Spider,” and he put his hands over his head when the sun came out. I told him how much I love him, and he listed the names of everyone in our family, telling me in his own way how much he loves all of us.

A joyful connection

As I stopped resisting the call of my child, as I gave up my own desire, small as it was, I was given a joyful connection with my toddler that I don’t get often enough.

This little anecdote of surrender was nothing remarkable. Parents around the world make sacrifices for their children every second of every day. Mothers, especially in the newborn phase, live in a perpetual state of surrender, as they give their very bodies to the children who depend on them for everything. “Stay at home” parents, especially those who can and do opt to school at home, like my amazing husband, surrender their time and sometimes their sanity.

But all of us, in every state of life, are called to surrender, to give of ourselves freely, especially when we might not feel like it. To this end, I have come to greatly appreciate this prayer by Blessed James Alberione, founder of the Pauline Family, which demands surrender of one’s will to that of God.

Prayer for unity with Christ

Holy Spirit, in a profound spirit of adoration
I ask you to unite my heart, my will, and my mind with those of Jesus.
May the affections of Jesus be my affections.
May the desires of Jesus be my desires.
May the thoughts of Jesus be my thoughts.

May Jesus himself live in my heart, my will, my mind.

I give Jesus my heart,
so that he may be the one who loves others in me and with me.
I give Jesus my will,
so that he may be the one who lives in me and with me.
I give Jesus my mind,
so that he may be the one who thinks in me and with me.

I want what he wants.
In me may he love.
In me may he decide.
In me may he act.
And may it be he himself who fulfills his mission through me. 

Gretchen R. Crowe

Gretchen R. Crowe is the editor-in-chief of OSV News.