What Does it Mean to Surrender?

Maybe I seem like I’ve got it easy on the surrender front right now. It’s certainly easier to give up control of what you want when you don’t know what the hell that is. Every morning I get on my knees and say “I surrender this day to You.” But what do I really mean by that? How am I putting that into practice?

My future career I can release control of, no problem. I have no idea how I want that to look and I’m fine working at random jobs till I get there. I surrender. My brain can’t figure this one out right now. I give up. Done.

Ditto romantic relationships. I don’t want to date right now, and although I would love a partner one day, I have no clue how or when they will come into my life. It’s comfortably far in the future where I don’t feel the need to control it. I surrender it to the future, the unknown. I give up.

But is surrendering the same as giving up? I’ve been labouring under this impression for a month or two, and I’m starting to think I’ve got it a bit backwards. Whenever my mind starts trying to solve or control huge things like putting my passions to work or finding the love of my life or whether or not to have kids, I get frustrated and eventually just say “I surrender. You figure it out, will ya?” Which is certainly giving up control, but I’m not convinced is exactly surrender. I don’t think surrendering also means losing the rights to my own life, my ability to change things, or my internal motivation. It doesn’t mean saying “I dunno, I can’t get this right, you show me what I’m supposed to do” and going back to bed waiting for divine intervention to fix my life. So what does it mean?

The area I’ve had the most trouble surrendering lately is my finances. It’s been creeping into my writing, my conversations with friends, tainted with so much fear it paralyzes me. Things that won’t affect me until way in the future I can let go of, but how I’m going to stay solvent four, five, six months from now? That keeps me up at night. I trust Spirit to guide me to a girlfriend when the time is right but not a job and monetary security. I’ve been equating surrender with inaction, and how can I find a job without taking action? So I take it all on myself, feeling so stressed, so alone in this, so brokenhearted by every setback and rejection. I can’t be present in any other area of my life because always in the back of my mind I’m watching those numbers on my bank statement trickle down. I don’t want my life to revolve around money, I don’t care about being rich, I just want to feel like I’ll be okay. I’ll make it to next month.

Then last night I saw a YouTube video with Gabby Bernstein, who is basically my guru right now. She spoke about her efforts and planning around having a baby, how she’d controlled everything to a tee, and a year later…had no baby. She talked about having to release control, surrender her wish for motherhood, say to God, “If I’m meant to be a mother, show me how You would have it be.” She consciously decided to surrender how motherhood would look for her, if she was to be a mother at all. She would continue with her plan, but was letting go of the results. The outcome was no longer up to her.

I was knocked back in my chair. I know how badly some people want children and I couldn’t believe someone could have so much faith to release their efforts, their dreams and desires – to say “I’ll keep showing up, but how it works out is up to You. I trust that it’s for my Highest Good.”

THAT’s surrender. Doing the work but letting go of the results; trusting if something is denied me it’s because something better is on its way. It’s being fully present in my life, making goals and plans and enjoying myself, but holding everything loosely, knowing that ultimately none of it really belongs to me. Because there isn’t really a “me”, there’s just Us. And while I sometimes think I know the outcome that would be best for me, most of the time I’m wrong, and I have even less of an idea what is best for Us.

After that video, I took out a notebook and wrote down the following:

“God, I surrender my finances to You. Show me what You would have me do with them. My money and means of earning are Yours. I trust that I am supported and protected. There is nothing to fear. Help me to see money as an abundant, beautiful tool that can be used in healthy creative ways and guide my use of it.”

Instantly the vice grip around my stomach loosened, I was able to breathe, to really be in the room. I told myself I’d continue to show up for the work, but the results are not up to me. And I’ll be okay.

With even a fraction of relief from that stress and belief in scarcity, I was able to update my resumé, contact old bosses for references, and find several jobs online to apply for. Most importantly, I was able to say “That’s enough for today” and spend time with my family and work on Christmas cards without guilt-tripping myself. Without that fog of fear, I can think clearly, I’m open to creative solutions, and I’m not trapped in anxiety that what I try won’t work out. I’m still in the same external position I was yesterday, but I’m a thousand times more relaxed, trusting that I’ll find a way. Everything will work out.

The thoughts will come back, I’m sure. A week, two weeks, a month from now, I’ll start to get scared again, but I know where to go. I just have to keep showing up, and allow grace to meet me halfway. I know what it means to surrender, and I’m so blessed to have the freedom to do it.

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