There Comes A Time

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by Julia Tuchman


I have never been very good at surrendering.

I have been the fighter—the hold on to the side of the cliff, fight for your life, never give up and never go down with the ship kind of soul. It was exhausting work.

Because surrender is one of my bigger lessons, I have had more opportunities then one should be given. But I am stubborn. The lessons kept coming. I had to fight for my life.

At 20, I was forced to leave college with mononucleosis. I planned to return back to my studies the next semester, healthy and strong. The mono symptoms never seemed to leave, and I was bedridden. Like dominos falling, the mono progressed to a viral syndrome and chronic fatigue syndrome. My immune system was compromised to such an extent that I developed severe environmental illness, so sensitive and allergic to the modern world, that I was homebound for much of a decade. When I left my environmentally safe house, I had to wear a specially filtered mask. I fought. It kept me alive. I never gave up.

Due to some strange medical fluke, some sort of neurological damage from the virus, I was left for nine years unable to eat solid food. For those nine years, I have had to survive on liquefied food. I have been brought to my knees, but I am thankful for my blender.

I lost a chance at college, career, children, weddings, parties, and a nice plate of lasagna. I have had backs turned to me, betrayals, lost opportunities and a hunger I can’t even describe. Twenty years had gone by. I was a Rip Van Winkle of sorts without the sleep. I was the Mrs. Haversham from a Dickens novel stuck in some time warp. I cried out many times in my life wondering if perhaps God had forgotten about me.

A few weeks ago, on the way to yet another doctor visit, I walked on to the elevator on the 23rd floor of the building I live in. The brass doors closed, and I pressed the lobby button. As I straightened my coat, the elevator began to wildly shake back and forth. My heart shook with it. The elevator then dropped a foot, rose again and dropped even more. In my mind I imagined the elevator hanging by a thread. It was going to fall 23 stories down. I had no control.

My hands reached out frantically searching for the emergency button. I pressed every button I could, until I found it. I screamed for help. My voice echoed back to me in the small space, and I was surprised how much I sounded like a frightened child calling out. “Help! Please someone!” The elevator sunk and shook again.

A static-filled male voice came through the tiny intercom. “We see you. Don’t worry you are ok. We are going to get you down!”

I was not alone.

“Please help me.” My voice sounded like a whimper now. If I did survive this, my heart felt as if it might not.

As the elevator continued to shake, I had no sense of where I was or what floor I was on. The doors opened on the fourth floor and I automatically fled. The voice came back over the intercom “No, stay on the elevator. I promise you are okay. We are going to get you down.” I stepped back into the car. As the elevator doors closed before me, I questioned my decision. It could fall again. But, in a few seconds the doors opened in the lobby. I was safe.

Later, my partner Adam asked me why I had not just gotten off on the fourth floor and taken the other elevator—the “safe” elevator. “I don’t know,” I answered. It was a reasonable question. “I guess I just felt I had to trust.”

That Sunday, I am sitting on a bench at the end of my block facing the East River. I watch the murky brown water as it flows effortlessly between the concrete of Manhattan and the smokestacks on Roosevelt Island. I notice a beauty in the ripples and rhythmic movement as it glides. It is polluted, yet it still flows. What man has done to this river has not stopped its graceful purpose. It continues on as buildings fall and rise again around it, it continues on its way. As I watch, I let go and feel myself flow along with the currents.

I can feel the years of trauma—the illness—the fears, abandonments, the hungers and desperation. I let it all go in acceptance and I imagine it flowing down the murky river.

I can also see all the times I have not been there for myself and all the moments I have not shown myself compassion and love that I so deserve through all that I have been through. I have no control over what has happened or how others might have treated me, but I have often been my own worst enemy. I was often the one who forgot about me.

Later in the day, I read a piece in the New York Times about Jesus’ last words on the cross. It is Easter Sunday and the article is in the beliefs section. At the end of the article the writer writes of Alton Logan, a man who was wrongly sent to prison for 26 years. Another man had confessed to the crime, but that man’s lawyers chose to remain quiet until after their client died. They did not want to violate the attorney-client privilege. They left Alton in prison for years even though they had the information that would have set him free.

Mr. Logan spoke about the anger and abandonment he felt and how he ultimately surrendered. ”We need to trust that although God may be testing us, he never abandons us. We need to do what Jesus did when he said with his dying breath “Father into your hands I commend my spirit.”

This man, who had many years of his life taken away when others could have saved him but did nothing, saved himself in surrendering. He saved his own spirit. Once again, I am shown the graceful healing of surrender and trust.

“There comes a time when we must put everything back in God’s hands.” Logan added.

For me, that time is now. I have held on to it myself for far too long, and I am exhausted. I am still not giving up, but I am finally truly surrendering. It is the most loving act I have ever done for myself.

JuliaJulia Tuchman is a writer, Akashic Field Therapist and spiritual counselor. She is currently surrendering in New York City. Visit her at

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