Saturday, August 23, 2008

Acceptance = Submission

I've been in a funk of late, struggling to connect with God. I thought that it was because August has been such a crazy month. I've been on the road a lot and for the past couple of weeks Lucas' school has been closed as they prepare for the start of the next school year. So my summer, which to that point had been full but fruitful had in some ways been derailed - my routine disrupted. But a couple of days ago during a counseling session with my friend Sam I realized that this funk didn't happen because of a disruption in my routine but started on that night in Santa Barbara when I declared that I would trade my present for my past.

I realized that I had made a declaration that my present would never be good enough. No matter how God redeems and rebuilds and makes things new, it would never be good enough. In making this declaration, I put up a wall between me and God. I put up a wall and closed my heart to the one that has been with me in my suffering. I understood then that I have not accepted what has happened. Acceptance of what has happened and what my reality is now is hard. It has been, is, and will be my biggest act of faith. Acceptance is submission. But it is only in a posture of submission that any of us can receive from God. This is the battle that I must fight. And maybe it seems cruel that I have to fight for anything after what I've been through. It may seem that submission is bad. All of our human instincts fight against submission. If I choose to look at my situation as God forcing me to submit to Him, then I will struggle with Him. I will hate Him. But if I choose to look at submission as an opportunity to allow God in, and if I believe that He is good, then it will be a wise choice.

I'm learning that the past is a powerful force. For some of us, the past was so horrible that we are stuck in it. Abuse, neglect, loss, guilt, and shame keep us from being able to receive from the fully present God because they are rooted in the past and keep us stuck there. For others, the past was so wonderful that we cannot imagine that our present or future can compare. And so we close ourselves to the present God. This is the camp that I'm in. And this is the camp that I need to fight to get out of .

I have experienced God's presence in my life. But His presence in my past, even if it was just yesterday, is not enough to carry me through today. Even if my present is full of pain, I can have access to His presence if I choose. He offers to walk with me, one day at a time, if I will choose to abide in Him. But to abide, I must trust Him. I must submit.

Maybe there is a way that I can fully accept that my past life with Midi and Nathan was wonderful but is now gone. Maybe I can accept that to even consider trading the present for the past is not an option and so shouldn't be considered. And maybe I can accept what my life is now and I can choose to walk with God. And maybe I can escape the paradigm of comparison, or of cause and effect. Maybe I can be fully grateful for the past and the present. I don't know yet. But I'm wrestling with Him now, instead of building the wall.


Anonymous said...

The Kübler-Ross model describes 5 stages of grieving: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

I think it is very interesting that when Elisabeth Kübler-Ross wrote about this model in her 1969 book "On Death and Dying," she selected a born-again Christian as the model of one who accepts.

The man has been diagnoes with a termnial illness, and he wants to be healed, but he says that it is more important to follow the Lord's will.

Likewise, in his final interview, Alexander Solzhenitsyn was asked:

Q: And your strength did not leave you even in moments of desperation?

Solzhenitsyn: Yes. I would often think: whatever the outcome is going to be, let it be. And then things would turn out all right. It looks like some good came out of it.

Acceptance: "whatever the outcome is going to be, let it be."

As for me, I am saddened by your loss and I grieve for the pain that you are feeling. I'm so sorry that you lost those that you loved so much.

I'm also encouraged by the grace and wisdom that God seems to have given you. Thank you for sharing yourself and your grief with me and others.

Dallas, Texas

Anonymous said...

"The night is darkest just before the dawn." Let Him guide you to the dawn you seek Mr. Mikasa.

-Your student,
Ronnie Poon

Chelle-boogie said...


So I found your blog.. and couldn't help but comment.

On a incomparable scale, when I faced loss in my life, I was reminded of this: in order to fully embrace the new that God has for you, you must let grief have its finished work.

My prayer is that you will find hope and comfort in the grief and begin to see that God's heart is truly good towards you. Thanks for your vulnerability, your honesty in your journey, your challenge towards submission. I needed to be reminded of that.

Scott said...

Dear Mark,
I am moved by your reflections on acceptance as a matter of submission. I'm particularly moved by your insight that submission is not necessarily an act of weakness. In your case I see it as a great manifestation of your inner strength. Your capacity to give and to love (as a father, husband, friend, teacher) and your will to live a full and honest life is, in my view, a testament to and an embodiment of the presence of a loving God.
I think that I am able to intellectually comprehend the nature of your current wrestling match. (I hope to have the opportunity to talk in person with you about it further so as to understand it and feel it more deeply/viscerally). I hear you say that your previous "trade" declaration implied that your present would never be "good enough." Even though your loss is a dominant theme of "Trade," I find the Anne Lamott quote and your reflections to profoundly reveal the genuine possibility for healing.
While I feel a degree of futility in trying to fully communicate what I want to say to you here, please know that you are among the most admirable people I have met in my life. I hope you feel no sense of added burden to your weight when I say that you have made me, and continue to make me, a better father to my twins and a better man. I'm looking forward to seeing you soon.

Anonymous said...

Hey Mark,

Keep up the good fight. Acceptance is hard but let God in and fully embrace all that he has for you.

With Love,

Anonymous said...

Dear Mark,
Thank you so much for sharing what you are going through, because it really encourages me.
I cannot even imagine how hard it must be to feel the absence of Midi and Nathan, daily, because I miss them, too.
However, I'm so encouraged by how you're trusting in the Lord.

You mentioned that for some of us, the past brings us harsh memories that it keeps us from being able to receive God's grace.
That is so true. I realized that many times I'm just stuck in my past. I have hard time even accepting God's grace.

Thank you for writing that submission can be an opportunity to let God in if we truly trust that He is good.

Please know that I'm praying for you.
Love in Him, anna.

Jenny Ong said...

Hi Mr. Mikasa,

I was a GHS student, c/o 2007, and a friend of one of your students, Jennifer Chang. When I had first heard about your loss, my heart ached for you even though we never had any interactions at Gabrielino. But now I come back to your blog because I wanted to find some comfort and some strength for I lost my boyfriend to a bike/car accident two weeks ago. I am still questioning everything, and I am still angry... but I read your posts and it gives me a sense of hope.

I'm so sorry for everything, and this world seems so irrational at times... thank you for sharing your pain, your strengths, your feelings and thoughts.