By Maya Smith, MSW
“Let Go Of Your Attachment To What You Think Should Have Happened. Surrender To What Is. Trust That You’re Being Guided Towards Something More Profound.” ~ Ash Alves
In life, we will experience change which will challenge us to shift our perspective. Change is uncomfortable. We tend to resist the aspects of life that feel new, uncomfortable, or different. We fear the unknown. We want to be in control. In order to release that control, we must surrender. However, it is difficult to surrender. The essence of surrender is vulnerability. “Surrender is more than a posture we take during praise and worship; it’s a posture of the heart” (https://spiritandtruthonline.org). It’s an openness to receive, grow, and expand.
As children, we would often play on the monkey bars at the playground during recess. As a child, it was scary to let go of the monkey bar we were currently holding and grab the next one. Sometimes, we’d even fall on the woodchips and have to start from the beginning. In order to reach the end, we had to let go of the monkey bars one by one. We couldn’t progress to the next bar without letting go of the previous one. With tremendous effort, time, and perseverance, we eventually reached the end and admired our achievement.
That’s how life is. We encounter various challenges or “obstacle courses” that we must navigate. It’s difficult to move forward while simultaneously holding onto the past. We may even encounter defeat which may deviate us from our course. Each time we fall, we learn and acquire more wisdom for the next time. We can take adequate time to reset, regroup, and develop a plan to conquer our “monkey bars.” As we continue to move forward, we are able to release what no longer serves a purpose in our lives to receive the next blessing. Although a strenuous process, it is life-changing.
Surrendering to God requires us to submit completely and fully. It compels us to trust that God is the navigator of our journey and we will never be led astray. It deepens our relationship with God when we trust that our needs will be met. Just like the monkey bars on the playground, our journey with God calls us to continuously move forward. We can trust that when we miss the mark, God will always be there to redirect our path.
“Surrender is not a weakness, or state of inaction, but rather a powerful state of pure energy; the energy of becoming your true purpose.” ~ Bryant McGill
In military terms, surrender is considered “the relinquishment of control over territory to another power.” In battle, surrender is usually the result of defeat. Soldiers would wave a white flag as an act of surrender to the opposing side. It is often viewed as the opposite of victory. Although it typically implies giving up or quitting after a struggle, surrender is actually a powerful state. There is power in surrender. Surrender is not the end result; it’s the starting point. It’s a conscious choice. It draws our attention to the present moment rather than becoming preoccupied with the future. It’s the willingness to stop fighting and attempting to change the outcome and observe our behavior during this period of preparation. By taking the necessary time to prepare, we are equipping ourselves with the tools to be even more stronger and wiser to not mishandle our blessings.
My Lesson In Surrender
Throughout my entire life, I’ve always had to be in control of every situation or circumstance. I would become very frustrated if I ever lost control or did not have control. It sent me into a frenzy. I had to be in control of every aspect in my life. About 6 months ago, God was revealing something profound to me: The Art of Surrendering. I distinctly recall challenging God on certain aspects of my life that weren’t occurring the way I thought they should. At the time, I couldn’t see the bigger picture. I continued to challenge God and push my own agenda. I became so frustrated with myself and God that I attempted to force the outcome that I desired.
Eventually and tirelessly, I surrendered to the unfolding of God’s plan. As I began to release control, I felt unproductive. This period of surrender caused me to feel stagnant. I thought that I needed to take immediate action to create the outcome that I desired. However, that was not the case. This process was not stagnation; it was preparation. Every phase of my life deserves value and has something to teach me. I am exactly where I need to be until I absorb and learn everything that I need about this current phase until I progress into the next phase. As I continue to surrender to God’s plan, it is more miraculous than I could have ever imagined.
Tips to Develop a Surrendering Mindset:
As humans, we thrive off of control. Control provides a sense of security. However, in order to surrender, we must release control. It is very difficult to surrender while simultaneously holding onto something. By releasing control, we allow God to move in our lives without our interference. We are no longer resisting God but submitting. We receive freedom once we release control. Throughout the surrender process, we begin to release what no longer serves a purpose in our lives and become open to receive God’s blessings.
It’s natural to resist the uncomfortable aspects of life. We feel safe in our comfort zones. It’s scary to step out of our comfort zones when we are uncertain of the future. However, it is only more challenging when we resist God and the continuous changes of life. As we begin to shift our perspective, we acquire an openness to the natural progression of life. We release our inherent need to control our circumstances. The more we resist God and the changes of life, our progression is hindered. When we allow God to direct our path and guide our steps, we can have peace in the surrender.
“Patience is the state of being that occurs between experience and reaction” (Carver, 2016). During every interaction, we have a choice in how we will react. Patience gives us the opportunity to choose how we will respond during moments of frustration, anger, or disappointment. Through continuous practice, we begin to take time to pause and reflect on our emotions before we respond which guides our behavior. It’s an invaluable lesson which delays instant gratification, shifts our focus, and provides a renewed perspective.
Practice Mindfulness: Be Still
Oftentimes, we cannot think rationally in the midst of chaos. It is difficult to hear from the Lord through commotion. Being still is an art. Sitting quietly and listening is a skill. It is often challenging to find peace in the chaos. Implementing mindfulness is a valuable practice that provides tranquility. Mindfulness allows us to quiet our minds to remain present and fully absorb every moment. We are compelled to pay attention to our sensations, thoughts, feelings, and the environment around us. One method to practice this is by tuning into our 5 senses: sight, touch, smell, taste, and sound. “Mindfulness is identified as an effective mental health practice for helping people improve their physical and psychological well-being.” Benefits include improved memory, decreased stress levels, improved cognition and increased emotional regulation. Throughout the surrender process, it is important to be still and await God’s direction.
Surrender is ultimately learning to trust that your circumstances are unfolding according to God’s will. Surrender is also a state of rest, a safe space where you spend less time worrying and more time enjoying and learning from your experience. Embrace this place in your journey!
-Maya L. Smith, MSW
Continue to follow the 3-part Metamorphosis: Resilience, Surrender, Bloom series at https://www.drjeanneporterking.com/blog