A Guest Post by Wendy Paine Miller
In my debut novella, The Disappearing Key several characters wrestle with experiences of surrender. We all identify with the convoluted feelings associated with letting go. I know I’ve given up so much in my life already. I’ve let go of expectations, abandoned my will, and anyone married longer than a day will testify to the daily opportunities to demonstrate sacrifice.
Today I want to examine not the act of sacrifice itself, but more who we are in the instance of letting go.
In order to do that, we’re going rock climbing.
I agreed to go on an eight day outdoor trip the summer after my senior year of high school. I had no clue rock climbing was in the mix. To say it terrified me would be an understatement. Scaling a flat surface had never been on my bucket list, not to mention something I ever wanted to do. But I was a trooper. I paid attention. I got hooked in to my carabineer. Then I set out. At some point, about halfway up the massive rock, I recalled a lesson our guide had bestowed upon us. He’d informed us there might come a time when we’ll have to make “a commitment move.” This is when you cannot see the next logical place to lodge your foot or hand, but you’re at a crossroads to make a decision. Time to make a commitment move.
It’s in this moment spiritual change is ripe to occur. Risk. Doing what could cost.
I flung my arm up in a way that would put zoo monkeys to shame and located a crevice. I continued up the rock. I’ll admit I’m still not a huge fan of rock climbing, but the lesson stuck. And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve made commitment moves in my life since, thinking back to my time scaling that beastly rock.
Now for another rock climbing story. A parable I once heard.
Enter a climber, almost at the peak of a glorious mountain. He begins to slip and struggles to keep his footing as he tumbles downward. Suddenly he’s caught by a rope he’d secured to the mountainside. The man screams out to God for help. God asks if the man really believes that he can save him. The man says of course. Then God asks the man to cut the rope. The man tightens the rope around his waist and days later a rescue team finds the man frozen with his hands clenched around the rope…dangling only a few feet from the ground.
We are defined in the letting go. Anyone can exude joy when life is coasting along. But only some allow themselves to be refined in the heat of the fire, in moments when we can’t see the next step and we’re called to trust. Or in the more harrowing times when we’re hanging on for dear life overcome with doubt.
I’ve been all over the map when called to sacrifice. There are times I’ve marched up a mountain like Abraham carrying Isaac. Other instances I’ve acted more like the rich man, Nicodemus in my resistance. My hope is that I mature and resist less—that I trust more when letting go.
Have you ever stopped to think about how you’ve changed in the midst of letting go? Who have you been in the surrendering?
Wendy is a native New Englander who feels most alive when she’s laughing, reading, writing or taking risks. She’s authored nine novels and is currently writing what she hopes will be your future book club pick. Her work has been published in numerous anthologies and online sites. Wendy lives with her husband and their three girls in a home bursting with imagination and hilarity.
She’s represented by Rachelle Gardner of Books & Such Literary Agency.
Katie here! Just wanted to chime in and say that not only is Wendy a dear friend, but a fabulous writer too! I found her novella thoroughly enjoyable and highly recommend it, especially to book clubs!