surrenderFeeling Like Jonah

Now I know how Jonah felt. When the dean of students sent out a pleading email asking for all female employees to gather at the girls’ dorm, I shuddered. She needed our help to eradicate an invasion of…lice.

I’ve lived through three personal lice invasions when our girls were still in elementary school. They brought it home twice, and I brought it home once. I got it from students at the public school I worked at when I did a class in hair braiding. Ever since then, I have avoided touching the hair of anyone outside of my family.

I quickly checked to see if the Navajo Language teacher still needed a sub for his afternoon class. If he did, then I would have the perfect excuse to avoid lousegate. Unfortunately, someone had already volunteered to sub for him.

I told myself I could avoid helping out because I had other much-needed work to accomplish for the school. But then the dean of students texted me personally, asking if I would help out. Rats! I surrendered, and promised to show up for a few hours from three to five.

When I arrived at the dorm, the party had already started. I snapped on a pair of gloves and grabbed a lice comb and started at the nape of one little girl’s neck. She wiggled and squirmed in her seat, trying to watch her dorm mates as they experienced the lice comb. I struggled to hold my grumpy thoughts in check. Occasionally I found a nit or a louse in the teeth of the comb. I shuddered and squirmed each time I captured the enemy.

Suddenly, I realized that the little ones (the girls, not the lice), had no choice in the matter. They couldn’t control their home lives or the level of poverty. I surrendered to the experience-I could choose to be brusque and let the girls feel my distaste for the job, or I could make sure they each felt valued and loved.

I started joking with them. When I found a louse, I dramatically ‘baptized’ it in bleach. The hours flew by. I ran home to eat supper, and then returned to the lice party. By this time, my back and shoulders ached from leaning over wiggly girls searching for tiny nits in long, thick hair.

The True Meaning of Surrender

surrenderThe last girl I helped, an extremely shy eighth-grader, sat quietly at the bench as I gazed in despair at her hair. No one realized how long it was, because she usually tucks it under her sweatshirt collar. It hung below her hips. As I sectioned off her hair, I realized the only way this would work without additional clips and would involve braiding each small section that I combed through.

An hour and thirty minutes later, I had combed through the last of her tresses. She had sat patiently through the whole ordeal, only wincing occasionally as I gently combed her hair. We had an audience of high school girls watching us-most who exclaimed over my charge’s beautiful long hair. I realized that she had to surrender as much as I did.

She had to surrender to having a staff member who she didn’t know very well comb through her hair-something the mothers usually do. For a shy girl, it must have felt like pure torture. When I finished, I braided all over her tiny braids into one giant braid. She smiled shyly at me, and I assured her once again that she had beautiful hair.

I left the dorm that evening, pondering what surrender means. It means doing what we have no inclination to do with an attitude of joyful service. Even if we have to fake it at first.

Surrender means doing what we have no inclination to do with an attitude of joyful service. #fmfparty Click To Tweet

Q4U: Have you ever discovered unexpected joy in a situation where you surrendered?

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35 Comments

  1. I’m so glad you shared this story. I’ve been curious all week after reading your comment earlier this week. 🙂 It’s beautiful how God can change our perspective when we take our eyes off of us and the inconvenience of something and look around. I’m glad God broadened your perspective and gave you, dare I call it, joy? in what you were doing.

    You are amazing. Really. You are. I’m so glad we’re friends.
    Jeanne Takenaka recently posted…Surrender: Making the ChoiceMy Profile

  2. Oh, I can relate to this. I just read in Job this morning, Job 12:5 “Those who are at ease have contempt for misfortune.” And I thought to myself, Is that me? In my comfort of my own life with my amazing husband, good kids and nice home do I look at others and say, “they did it to themselves?” “Why do I need to deal with their poor choices?” And I caught myself lacking in the area of compassion. Lord, help me to be aware of all that you have made and love those who You bring along my path.
    Thank you for these words, Anita! It’s a good perspective change that I need.
    Rachel Q recently posted…Leaving Behind and Moving ForwardMy Profile

  3. Great story, and a real example of surrender! I also love how you describe the choice we have about our attitude in these kinds of situations- do we do it begrudgingly or lovingly? This is a good challenge!
    Lesley recently posted…Surrender Once AgainMy Profile

  4. Anita, this is a beautiful story of surrender. In that moment when you realized that the girls involved had no control over their circumstances, I could feel my own heart cracking over times when I’ve had to do seemingly distasteful tasks. What grace you showed those girls, esp the last one.

  5. Oh my goodness – I read some of your post to my 2 elementary boys because of course the featured image grabbed their attention! I’m sitting here in awe of you my friend. Granted, the deed had to be done, but I just can’t imagine! I seriously think this would be too much for me…and hopefully I wouldn’t have to experience it! This was such a needed reminder today. Thank you!

  6. You are amazing, my friend! I remember only one scare of lice with our girlie… her hair is THICK and curly (and I know you know what that means!) Luckily our treatment was more preventative or just in case, but I do remember that tiny comb and the patience required! Crowns in heaven, my friend! What a picture of surrender!
    ~Karrilee~ recently posted…I Surrender Some… A Five Minute Friday post.My Profile

  7. Oh my! I will never forget when one of my students handed me a live louse she’d found in her hair! Just one of my many “teacher stories” I collected in 32 years. I know you know! Love, Love your definition of surrender! Thank you for sharing in a way that is so relatable! Your left handed #fmf sister, Cindy 🙂

  8. i loved your post anita. didn’t get around to reading posts until today from FMF. you are so right when it comes to attitudes. i found the same to be true in my job as a nurse. i could do the job and get it done, or surrender and do it joyfully and kindly to the person so they felt honored and respected. it didn’t take any longer and tended to more pleasant for all of us. i’m so glad rubber gloves were invented tho’!

    is anything more tedious than combing through hair with nits? we had one or two infestations in our house and by the time we realized the problem in our blonde haired girls, everyone had it:( what a mess!

  9. I love your definition of surrender —> It means doing what we have no inclination to do with an attitude of joyful service. My word of the year is surrender and I agree with your definition. I also think surrender is a release of all the parts of who you are that will not help you to function correctly. That is what I am working on as I surrender to God this year.
    Mary Geisen recently posted…Monthly Musings ~ January 2018My Profile

  10. I am thankful that in my 35 years of teaching I never brought home lice. And our school never asked teachers to help the nurse and/or health clerk check heads. I love your definition of surrender. Surrender is my one word this year and your definition is something I want to do as part of my surrender.

  11. We are often so bold in declaring our willingness to give it “all” to Jesus, but then wince and recoil when he asks us to do some very basic things like this. It is very akin to Jesus washing the feet of his disciples… taking the role of servant to do the thing that no one else volunteered to do. Bless you for sharing this modern-day example. God, give us the willingness to do likewise in whatever He calls us to do.
    Karen Woodall recently posted…SupermoonMy Profile

  12. Wow! So, basically, surrender is dying to self and choosing to obey God with a joyful attitude. This makes me realize how my selfishness and bad attitudes must grieve God’s Spirit. I’m so glad you realized that the girls couldn’t help it and that they needed you to be sweet and compassionate as you helped them. I’m sure your good attitude made it a much less traumatic experience for them, and you left a good testimony with them for many years to come.

  13. Your example of surrender is poignant. Lately, it’s in everything I read. Whether or not it’s an instruction from God, I’m not sure yet. But I’m grateful for your lesson and honesty about the struggle you experienced. What a blessing to be used by God to bless that young girl. I’m sure she will never forget your kindness!
    Susan Crews recently posted…Resisting Expectations, Embracing DesiresMy Profile

  14. I am so encouraged by your message.If we consider the needs of others and act on them,there is a fulfillment and joy that we receive.Thank you for this reminder.

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Anita Ojeda

Anita Ojeda juggles writing with teaching high school English and history. When she's not lurking in odd places looking for rare birds, you can find her camping with her kids, adventuring with her husband or mountain biking with her students.

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