When we think surrender, we often think ‘giving up’, or perhaps of a cartoon character waving a white flag, or maybe we think of surrendering as losing. But I propose something radically different. Not original–I’m only re-articulating for myself ideas I’ve gathered over the years from others–but still different.
What if, instead of thinking of surrender as loss, we think of it as gain?
Gaining freedom, gaining peace, gaining release.
In the summer, the idea of surrender haunted me. (I almost started a post on it in late May/early June. But I put it off, until it waved at me again in July. July was very busy. I was successfully able to put it off until today. But today, I can no longer put it off.)
It all started with the words of a friend, who had called after a trying week. A trying week in a trying month in a trying season of her life. She said, “I give up. The universe [and here I must paraphrase because I can’t remember her exact words] hates me, and it keeps throwing shite at me, and I just can’t take it anymore. I give up.” I didn’t have anything to say that would make things better. I might have said things that made her feel worse–but I tried to listen, to be there for her, and to love her and hug her from hundreds of miles away. And the threads of thought began to knit themselves together in my mind. I thought, though I couldn’t articulate it yet, that perhaps “I give up” was precisely the right response. Stop fighting, stop trying to control, stop trying to be the boss of everything. We are only human. We cannot control everything, and trying only drives us crazy. “I give up” might actually put us on a road back to sanity.
What does Surrender mean? The dictionary is helpful, but even that–those few sentences–have negative connotations. Basically, it is to give up to someone or something else because one must. As if one has no choice in the matter. It is a forced action. Yet… Yet it doesn’t have to be.
Consider for a moment, if trust is involved. I suppose I am idealistic, and I suppose I’m more submissive in nature for to consider a trusting surrender to the ‘universe’ at all. But hear me out. If one (let us for the sake of clarity go with “I” instead)–If I trust someone, I suppose it means I think they are good. Perhaps I think they have good ideas, and have my best interests at heart. Perhaps I even think their ideas are better than mine for my own well-being. And so I will trust them to know what is good and in my best interest. I will surrender my own need for control in order to have my best interests looked after. This is not easy–I don’t for a minute pretend it is simple–not at first, anyway. Though with practice, and with the positive reinforcement of positive outcomes, it becomes easier.
I surrender to my family. At first I surrendered to my parents. They love me, and they had years more experience than I, and I trusted that they had my best in mind. (Yes, I know, toddlers aren’t great at this, and neither are teens. I was no exception. That’s not really my point.) Oddly enough, they were almost always right. In the course of time, I got married. My husband loves me (he also has years’ more experience than me, but only a few), wants the best for me, and I trust him to make decisions for me. No, he doesn’t make all my decisions, and no, I don’t ask him what my opinions should be on all things, but if I am struggling with a decision, I will ask him what to do. I weigh his opinion carefully, and will quite often take his advice. Because I know he wants what is best for me. I know he has my best interests in mind as he offers solutions.
And I surrender to my God (my friend calls this higher power The Universe but to me, He is God). I know He loves me, I know He has my best interests at heart, and I know He has blessings beyond counting in store for me. To be completely honest, I don’t surrender here as much as I want to, or know I should. I mean, I trust Him to know what’s best, but…too often I forget to listen for Him, more often think I know better. I am still human, remember, and we are nothing if not stubborn. Oh, but when I surrender, that’s when amazing things happen!
When I surrender, when I let go of my stubborn need for control, is when circumstances ‘miraculously’ fall into order. I find that the hectic schedule somehow becomes manageable. The impossible situation resolves…or at the very least, I come to terms with the impossibility. And not having to have all the answers to impossible questions is incredibly freeing.
Have you tried it? Do you practice the art of surrender, or is it anathema to your very being? If you haven’t, might I challenge you to do so? Allow yourself the freedom of not having all the answers, of not knowing what happens next–of not being in control of every little thing. Try it. For a week. One can do anything for a week. 🙂 Who knows, you might find you’ve gained a whole new perspective.