Dear God, I give you all, willingly

“Dear God, I give you all, willingly. But I don’t know how to give, I just let them take. The best is to remain quiet. Because though I may not know how to give, you know how to take. Yet I would have wished to be once, just once, magnificently generous to you!” — The Curé d’Ambricourt, referring to his parishioners

Back in 1992, I suffered severe anxiety attacks that landed me in the hospital. I remember one day in particular, after I was released from the hospital and was recuperating at home in Massachusetts, I was experiencing that terrifying sense of total inner fragmentation that accompanies extreme cases of anxiety. The edge of madness. Those who have suffered this know exactly what I am saying. I had been unable to pray for days because I was paralyzed inside, but at a certain point in the day I was able to release some pressure from the inner volcano and melted down in tears. I was finally able to pray in that space of a moment, and distinctly recall saying to God, “If you want me to surrender myself to you, I need a self to surrender! I can give nothing to you now, I have nothing to give, so I ask you: just take this away!” I settled into a peace after a minute or so, and heard a distinct phrase spring to mind with a crisp clarity, “No, take me in.”

I immediately thought, book of Revelation. So I looked up the passage this inner voice had brought to mind. Jesus says in 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” So I invited Him into my storm-battered, wind-swept tent. The winds stilled, the storm calmed. For a time. And though the storms would return again and again, I had received then and there a new insight that remained. A new grace.

He was with me in the storm, the One who, in the Garden of Agony, had suffered a cosmic panic attack in the face of death’s annihilation. He was with me. With me. Such throwaway words. Yet when unshakable Love is with you, you cease to drift haplessly and hopelessly. He was with me as the One who said, “Father, if thou art willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42). He who has conquered the storm, who reigns over the panic as Prince of Peace, wished to enter me. And when He entered, this King of Glory, He gathered all the fragments within, praying to His Father for me, “That they may be one as we are one” (John 17:21).

Suddenly, St. Paul’s words in Galatians 2:19-20 made all new sense to me, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me.”

And the words of consecration flashed with new light, “Take, eat my Body; take, drink my Blood.” In the holy Eucharist, I consume Christ, “in whom all things hold together” (Col. 1:17).

Yes, Lord, do not take this away. Come, enter as my guest and make all things new. Amen.

6 comments on “Dear God, I give you all, willingly

  1. Amy says:

    I completely understand the paralyzing anxiety and the fear of fear. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Todd Graff says:

    Dr. Neal,

    Thanks for this latest post, and for the many before. I read very few blogs, but try to make time for yours as your entries are always so honest, authentic, and faith-filled. Thank you! I came across the song/video by Kristene DiMarco (at the end of this post) about a week or so ago, and have listened to and prayed it with it many times since then. And, then, there it appears in your blog entry. No doubt the Spirit is at work! Thanks for sharing your experiences and the deep spiritual wisdom you draw from them. It is a great gift to many, and certainly to me. God bless!

    Todd Graff (Winona, MN)

    • Todd: Sorry for the delay in response. I am so grateful for your comment and for the providential overlay between our lives. God is so good to knit brothers together in unity. Peace and blessings on you up in MN!

  3. Nos says:

    Dear Todd,
    I couldn’t agree more. . .

    AMY ,
    You’re in my prayers kiddo “JESUS I trust in YOU ” thank you St. Faustina . . . J.I.T.I.Y…

  4. Mystic says:

    It is so exhausting to be in that state of fear and panick so I empathize with all that have encounters with that experience and will pray for you. I appreciate you revealing and sharing of your past experiences. I have had a few attacks myself, which is horrendous when you have worked so hard to maintain this outward appearance of being in control. There are different degrees of it for me, but I do think mine is related to that feeling of being completely alone. Realizing and internalizing that I am a child of God and that He loves me and I am worthy has brought a calmness and yearning to know him more and more. My faith can turn into fear still, and it’s discouraging, but reading Scripture, the sacraments, this blog and prayer break it’s grip. So I’m hopeful. You have given me good books, good music, good blog of people and an example of a good marriage. I thank you for the gifts you create here. God bless you and all who share their wisdom and concern.

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