The most life-changing concept I have embraced over the last 10 years is the concept of surrender. It would be cute, pithy, and quite seminarian of me to say that it was God's love, but that isn't true. God's love is something I have embraced at some level for most of my life. But the concept of surrender has completely changed the way I live, and move, and breathe in this world in relation to myself and to others.
Surrender, as I understand it and as I have embraced it, is best understood as surrendering to what is. The release of control. The cessation of striving against life's current circumstances. Letting go of the struggle against what is, against Truth. The abandonment of the idea that I can somehow manipulate life in such a way as to gain the outcome I want; that I can somehow alter what is in such a way that life will benefit me more.
What is can not harm you. What is simply exists. It is life's present reality. It may change tomorrow, next week or next year, but reality is not some personal assault. It does not carry a judgement with it, life isn't angry at you and therefore it saddled you with your present circumstances. Life simply is life. We all have them, messy, chaotic, confusing ones, but circumstances do not judge you for occurring, they simply are. And yet, when they happen we struggle mightily against them for merely existing.
No, my brother cannot have cancer! No, my friend cannot be going through a horrific divorce. No, my child can't have Asperger's. No, work just can't be this stressful. No!! These things have nothing to do with me. I did not create them nor orchestrate them. I have no control over them. They simply are. And yet by refusing to surrender to the reality of them, I use all of my energy fighting against what is rather than funneling that emotional power, and it IS power, toward life-giving pursuits.
Surrender involves letting go of other people, and their actions. Releasing the false notion that somehow what someone else does is about me, because of me, or I can effect, or change their actions in some way. Even my children's actions, attitudes and behaviors are not about me. Other people are constantly speaking their truth with what they do, there is freedom in letting go of taking all of it so personally, likely they haven't even thought of me.
I'm not much of a planner. I want to know where I have to be tonight but even considering all I have to do for the next week and who's going to be where stresses me out. I still forget this about myself and attempt to start planning things. I do it even though I can feel my heart rate increase as I'm doing it. The future. Career paths. The next degree I want to pursue (while still currently pursuing this one). The cross-country trip I want to take one summer with my kids. Major life changes. I forget about the concept of surrender and make pros and cons lists. I write it all down and then I wonder to myself why in the hell my emotions are freaking the f out 2 days later. Why do I feel like Chicken Little and why do I need to run around screaming that the sky is falling?! Each and every time I do this (many, many times, I'm a slow learner) I eventually remember that I have forgotten the life-giving concept of surrender. I have tried yet again to engineer my life, my future (forgetting that the present is all we have) and sometimes even the lives of others. God help them. I can't handle my own shit let alone anyone else's.
Surrender is fundamentally life-altering for me. It is freedom in a box, wrapped up in the best paper from a store more expensive than Tiffany's and yet you can pick it up anytime you want for free.
I don't need to be in charge, because I'm not.
I don't need to figure it all out, because I can't.
I don't have to do it all, because I'm not responsible for everything.
I can let it go, all of it go. The future. My kids' futures. My career. My finances. I can let go of my need to have my hands in everything. I hate pros and cons lists. Despise them. I find them inane. My dad has drilled into my head their usefulness since I was a small child. (sorry dad) But every major life change that I have made thus far that has worked out for my benefit was done without such a list. Maybe that's how I'm wired. But when the right time, the right person, the right situation presents itself, I know. It's not tricky, it ain't magic and there's no formula. I simply know that this is the move that I need to make.
The bitch of that is, is that the knowing, it never comes to me ahead of time. It only shows up when I need to move, or do something. There's no three point plan emailed to me by the divine orchestrator upstairs. Instead when I have surrendered peace comes when it needs to. There's an opening, and a light, and life in the direction in which I'm headed and I know. I give up control and look inevitably there's the gift.
It's so completely antithetical to the way it feels when I plan, strategize, run the spreadsheets and pull out the calendar. All that brings me is chaos. Surrender brings peace, freedom and gift.