I remember that I started going to church at the age of 6 years old. I remember being in church plays, children’s choir, teaching Sunday school, volunteering in VBS (Vacation Bible School), being an usher, volunteering in the church bookstore, and doing all the things. I remember having my first encounter with the Holy Spirit around 11. I remember actively listening on Sundays when I stayed in the main temple and wasn’t going to “kid’s church” anymore. With all this “experience” in being in church and learning about God, my constant struggle has always been surrendering. Because of having an unstable childhood, I became a control freak. I wanted to have control of the things that happened around me and change was just the most difficult thing for me in life. I became very territorial of the people around me and I wanted to have some sort of control about the things that happened around me. My obvious control issues slowly subsided once I reconciled my relationship with God, but in 2022, I realized that I was still battling with control issues and one of the main reasons that we struggle with control, especially in our walks with God is because of fear and lack of trust.
Growing up, I actually loved to read the Bible. I received a light pink Precious Moments kids Bible when I was around 7 and I would read my Bible all the time. To this day I still have that Bible. (My daughter loves to look through it and read through all the parts that I have highlighted and underlined. ) Because of reading the Bible so young, a lot of the verses were instilled in me and ingrained in the back of my head and also imprinted in my heart; however, it wasn’t until the Holy Spirit Himself reminded me of those verses that they became real in my life. I had to learn that in 2022. I had to learn the difference between just knowing something in your intellect and it being a revelation in your spirit.
Going through 2022 was HARD.
I honestly didn’t think that I would survive because I felt so defeated, so hopeless, and so exhausted. I started the year having a newborn and going through so many changes. I was facing the reality that I had to balance the time between being a wife, my 6 year old (at the time), who had been the center of my universe for 6 years, and now I had this little new baby that I had to get to know. All while being far from family, breastfeeding, and going through post-partum depression/anxiety. I had just quit my job and I had never been a stay-at-home mom with a newborn and I felt so lost. Throughout this time, most of my prayers were tears. Part of me knew that this separation process was for a reason, but I was struggling. Because of the post-partum anxiety, I was gaining so much weight and I literally hated myself for it. I would look at the mirror and literally cry. With my second pregnancy, I actually worked really hard not to gain too much weight. I was working out and trying to eat right and I did great, but then after I gave birth I literally blew up like a balloon and it was the worse feeling ever. Mom guilt was also consuming me in every way. I was always tired from breastfeeding and pumping and I felt like my oldest felt neglected by me and there were days where I literally would watch her sleep and cry. There were days where I felt like I was failing at breastfeeding as well and would feel so overstimulated it was overwhelming.
While all this was happening, I felt like I was carrying the weight of people’s salvations on my shoulder (which I took upon myself). Along with control issues, I also struggle with a savior complex. I genuinely love God and I genuinely love people and there are times where I just feel like it’s my job to connect the two. My whole life I’ve longed to see those closest to me to walk in the fullness of God and their purpose in Christ, but there have been so many moments where I feel like it’s my job to save them, therefore taking on a burden that’s not mine and the Bible clearly states in Matthew 11:30 that God’s “burden is easy and yoke is light”, but clearly I skipped verse 28, where Jesus says to come to Him and He will give us rest. I was seeing so many family members and friends turn away from God to seek their own will and desires and I just felt like it was my job to do something about it (besides just simply praying for them) and it became this load of anxiety on me. The crazy part is that deep, deep inside, I knew that my savior complex was kicking in, which eventually had me overtaken by disappointment. I was disappointed in people that chose to turn their backs on God after seeing them experience God in an undeniable way. I was disappointed that God wasn’t doing something about it right away when I wanted Him to. I was disappointed that there was nothing I could do or say to change what was happening. Then I had to remember, Jesus is the ONLY savior. I wasn’t called to save anyone. I can only share truth and love others, but I can’t save people. I thought back to days where I was, *in great Puerto Rican Spanish* algarete, basically running wild. God had to remind me of where I was internally in those days. In the exterior it looked like I was having the time of my life, in the interior I was struggling with anxiety, rejection, lack of identity, lack of self-esteem, codependency, anger, resentment, unforgiveness, stubborness, a feeling of emptiness, ect.
I remember having days where I would remember where God took me from and I would literally sit there and say, “God, please bless those people who prayed and interceded for me in those days. Those people who saw what You saw and would speak life over me, even when I was out there acting crazy.” I think about the fact that even when I was living on my own terms, there were still certain convictions that stuck with me from my encounters with God and Biblical foundation. In those moments, I was reminded God didn’t need me to save anyone. I was reminded that God really didn’t need me at all (not in a mean way). Just as He had brought conviction to me at the time that I needed the most, He could and would do it for my loved ones, but at the end of the day, everyone has free will. I remember talking to a pastor and they reaffirmed that other people weren’t my responsibility and that I needed to surrender them to God. Oh man, I remember when they said, “surrender” it brought so much conviction. I think when I heard it from someone who I was having a personal conversation with, it really stung because it was a reminder that even though I thought I was trusting God, I really wasn’t.
Oof, and it wasn’t only with family and friends on the outside, I also had to encounter some hard truths about myself as a wife too in the area of surrendering. If I’m being totally transparent here, I have always struggled in the area of submitting as a wife because I can be very set in my ways and guess what…. submitting in a lot of cases is similar to surrendering. This year was definitely a year where God definitely exposed my pride to myself as well. When I tell you hard truths were encountered, they definitely were. I had to sit with myself and let God put me through the fire.
I’ve learned that there’s beauty when God exposes something about us to ourselves. I had to learn that even though I thought I was surrendered to God, when push came to shove, I wanted to control things and do things in my own strength. Let me tell you, there is FREEDOM when we surrender and we trust that God has things under control. There is freedom when we know that even when our circumstances look messy or just different from what we had hoped/prayed for, God is still in control and He just needs for us to do our part and He’ll do the rest. I had moments where I kept feeling like there was something I had to do to change all of the circumstances around me (besides prayer), but then I kept hearing, “Be still and know that I am God”. I remember thinking, “Be still? Be still?! If I don’t do anything, everything is just going to go down in flames!” As I write this, I laugh because I really thought very highly of myself in those moments. I thought I could just fix everyone’s problems and I could take on the weight of the world. I remember it wasn’t until I just couldn’t do it anymore and felt so emotionally and mentally drained that I was able to listen to what the Holy Spirit wanted me to hear and I felt in my spirit to look up Exodus 14:14.
The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.
Sometimes we’re not ready to listen to what the Holy Spirit wants to tell us. It wasn’t until I was exhausted mentally and emotionally that I was able to receive this verse in my spirit. I wanted so bad to do things my own way and I thought I could figure out the solutions in my own strength that I had literally worn myself out until I had no choice but to surrender and be still. It was in these moments that I remembered that Jesus never said for us to figure things out on our own. It’s never said in the word of God, “You’ll find the solution within yourself”. On the contrary, it says “Lean not on your own understanding”, “my burden is easy and my yolk is light“, “cast your cares on the Lord because He cares for you”, etc. I had to be reminded of that in 2022. I had to be reminded that people will fail me, but God is my constant.
We live in a society that glorifies “self”. A society that has been trying to teach people to think that the answers are within ourselves and that we will figure things out in our own strength, yet this is the same society that has a mental health crisis. A society that has both young and old people struggling heavy with depression and anxiety. A society where suicide is increasing in different groups of people because they feel the weight of the world on their shoulders. When we glorify “self”, there is nobody to surrender things to. There is nobody to rest in because we feel that we have to take on our problems alone and that’s just such a lie. Jesus came to set us free and give us rest.
In John 10:10 Jesus says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” We constantly hear, “Live life to the fullest”, but only through surrendering it all to Jesus can we live a full life. I’m not saying an easy life, but a full life. It’s funny because as I write this, I can almost hear some people thinking, “I don’t need Jesus to have a full life, I have my family, kids, friends, job, money, cars, etc….”, but the reality is, we see people who have all those things and in the outside it looks like they’re happy and then all of a sudden we hear that they’ve committed suicide, leaving all of those things behind. As beautiful as having a family, kids, cars, a house, job, etc is, there is nothing like the fullness of having Jesus in your heart and truly living a life surrendered to Him. The freedom is in surrendering and knowing that God is not a man to lie and He is a God of His word.
I’m saying this not from a point of view of perfection. I’m sharing this with you because throughout this process, I’ve learned that the more I really surrender the areas of my life to God, the more peace I feel, the less anxiety I feel, and the more I am able to be free. I had to be shaken and tested.
My desire in sharing all of this with you is to let you know that there will be moments in our life that we will be shaken. There will be tests that God will give us to expose the areas of our lives that still need work. There will be processes of purification that you think will break you, and in a way they will, but they will break you from mental strongholds that are not from God, so that God can download new wisdom and strength in you. Allow the Holy Spirit to walk you through the process. Allow the word of God to bring transformation because in the end, there is so much to gain. There is peace to gain, there is freedom to gain, there is wisdom to gain, and there is a new level of faith to gain in the process.
I encourage you today to surrender it all to God. I don’t know the hardships you face or the struggles you will face, but what I do know is that there is a perfect peace that can only be given through Jesus. My desire is that you open your heart to Him so that He can meet you where you’re at in this season of your life.