Updated: Jun 8
George Floyd's unspeakably wrong death and the ensuing widespread, and sometimes violent, protests seem like the latest signs of our unraveling. Even as we tentatively emerge from quarantine with bated breath at a dreaded Covid surge, we face yet another spear of uncertainty, fear and heartache. Throw in murder hornets, freak weather, threatening economic collapse, political drama, UFO footage and what have you, and folks are on eye-popping tilt. What next? Alien invasion? Plague of frogs? Despite bleak prospects, what if this is actually our collective bottom? A love-laden invitation to surrender and unexpected gateway to something better. Better than better.
A few years ago, in the midst of a prolonged negotiation and eventual lawsuit with my MightyTykes investors, impossibly outgunned, I was just plain cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs trying to salvage the business. I simply would not give up on the brand, originally inspired by my son Isaac who has Down syndrome and thus, loaded with heartfelt emotional capital. And prickly, icky, cold-sweat fear—the root cause of vein-busting, eye-twitching, totally unhelpful rage. Plus blame. Uggh.
Notwithstanding the noble cause and my perseverance, it seemed my every effort was stymied by some baffling nonsense you wouldn't believe. (Who will play me in the movie version?) The situation got thornier and more unmanageable by the day. I tried so hard and yet in the end, had to throw up my hands in surrender. I don't know if I could have gotten there a minute sooner, and I did learn a lot in my wacky, misguided diligence.
Meanwhile, my marriage, which had been a house of cards for a really long time, was teetering on the brink and I was utterly befuddled. I’d tried every conventional weapon in the marriage-saving arsenal, with buckets of good will, shoulder to a hard wind, gnawing sense of wrongness, yet unwilling to surrender. Again, I was fixated on this notion that I had to stay married no matter what, despite ample reason not to. This resulted in decidedly destructive seething, simmering resentment and self-loathing. Well, that sure sounds holier than splitting, huh?
Picture a robust brick wall and my banging my head against it over and over. And over.
Messy. Painful. Quite ineffective.
Still, me being me (back then, that is--wink), in the midst of it all, I threw in another variable (read, grenade), moving to Florida with young children, buying another house in 11 minutes, and doing it all solo with very little money. Because I can do it, darn it!
In the colorful tangle that is my busy brain, it seemed like a fine idea. And honestly, it's one of my best moves ever and I don't regret it for a nanosecond. However, as far as combined stress load, we're talking 214,756,111 stressamps, a measure of my own invention.
Embattled business, marriage meltdown, major relocation, children adjusting to new everything, scraping for money, under the energetic direction of an Italian girl full of, ahem, passion, etc., etc., etc. A recipe for catastrophe. SO many unintended consequences. Lots.
It has all worked out...is still unfolding...far, far better than I could conjure with my sharp thinking, vivid imagination, enterprise and work ethic. In spite of me, more than cuz of me.
Yes, MightyTykes ended in bankruptcy, we lost the West Virginia house, and I had to abandon the brand, which turned out to be a giant cathartic sigh of relief. With it went an extremely difficult chapter of my life, albeit an epic growth period with many tangible and intangible gifts. In finally letting go, I unloaded a big ball and chain that that was holding me back. I’m about to launch crowdfunding for a reboot called MightyLytes. I sure would love for you to support me!
The marriage is ending in (mostly amicable and cooperative) divorce, and that is a loving and liberating act of honesty. Apart from the sweet fruit of two awesome kids I thought I'd never have, my marriage also bore me a host of other spiritual offspring.
The move? Well, the Suncoast of Florida is home in the deepest sense and particularly my sweet little hamlet. Apart from its physical beauty, here I've recovered myself and my people. My kids are deeply blessed, too. And, forced by circumstances, we landed in the perfect hometown for us. Ironically, it's not one of the several places that had made my meticulously researched short list!
Does God need my help? Nope.
Fighting through the grueling battles--mostly on my knees--the fear that has overshadowed so much, encasing me in a Teflon veneer for half a lifetime, has nearly all worn off.
This extended difficult season was actually an incubator for new life.
Naturally, it's tempting to wonder if I could I have hastened the process and avoided some agony by being a bit less bull-headed. I may never know, but I suspect not. Given time and inclination, I can document what I gained from the rather bumpy route I chose to undertake. The pain is refining fire.
Back at the beginning of "the great unraveling," when the first thread was pulled, my then therapist recommended I marinate in a song by Casting Crowns, Just be Held. To be honest, I didn't really like the tune, but loved the lyrics.
Your world's not falling apart, it's falling into place.
This sweet promise is prefaced by:
And when you're tired of fighting
Chained by your control
There's freedom in surrender
Lay it down and let it go
At the time, the words seemed too good to be true and clearly, these fellas didn't really get me or my situation. And yet the spirit in me knew it was true, having taken that rocky road before—with Isaac, for instance, who has turned out to be the gift that keeps on giving. (Random sidebar: Rocky Road is delightfully decadent, diverse and delicious ice cream. Coincidence? I think not!)
The key is surrender.
The key, you'll notice again, is letting go. Surrender.
Some of us have to be clobbered into surrender (Guilty!) over and over. Whatever we're cleaving to--a person, place, thing or wrong idea--must be wrenched out of our hands with brute force.
In a tug of war with God, guess who wins?
And then, once I finally release my bionic hold, a peaceful, easy feeling. Joy. Clarity. Solutions. Flow. Better still, unexpected blessings, perks I couldn't see until I was able to let go of the other stuff.
This side of the pandemic, the unpredictable collateral damage, George Floyd's death as tragic symbol of persistent "otherism," abuse of power, the deep national political crevasse, plus, plus, plus--well, it all looks pretty darn bad to the untrained eye.
Evidently, way, way above our pay grade.
New beginnings. Better power source.
But what if our world's not falling apart? What if it's falling into place? What if this is the proverbial dark before the dawn? The hard reset I mentioned in a recent blog? The chance to begin again with fresh perspective and open-handed, open-hearted love and faith.
Of course, this requires surrendering to someone who can manage this morasse. I choose a benevolent captor who can take the messes we make and turn them into something nifty and unexpected.
It also involves dropping the whole "us and them" thing, which is pretty indefensible since we're all the same species. The reality is we're all "us" and we're all "them." The ingredients and shaping forces may vary, but we're all made of the same stuff. Not a single one of us can point a finger without having three point right back at us. Our self-righteousness blinds us to the fact.
Fortunately, God loves us all anyway. Whew.
I don't know how this cosmic course correction will look for humanity--or for me personally--but I choose to believe it's possible for us to learn, love and heal with the help of the God of the Universe.
He waits only for us to let go and let him.
Help us God, pretty please.
Love and hugs in a hazmat.