Surrender. It’s a word, a concept, a directive that’s been chasing me for years. Yes. I said years.
The first I remember it was when I read a book called Surrendering to Motherhood. It was written by a former Wall Street Journal reporter who had to come to terms with the fact that she couldn’t do it all. Couldn’t be it all. She had to give into the uncertainty and spontaneity of motherhood in order to really enjoy it.
A few years later, on a retreat, I felt God whispering “surrender” to me. It felt right – inviting even, and the idea of surrendering brought relief. But it didn’t last long.
And then more years on, a co-worker who practiced energy healing was working her magic on me, trying to alleviate a headache that just wouldn’t go away. She placed her hands above my head and said “I’m getting the word ‘surrender.’” Seriously. How long will it take me to learn this lesson?
A few weeks ago, I was talking with a friend about this call to surrender. Envisioning what surrender would look like, I saw myself leaning into God. Resting against him. Again, it felt inviting. It was peaceful. I knew I was being taken care of. Loved in a gentle and unconditional way. Coming back to the present, aware of my surroundings, that surrendered heart was what I wanted. Truly my heart’s desire.
Two days later, Mike broke his ankle and the idea of surrender went out the window. It was time to take charge. Line up reinforcements. Muscle through. March on.
That surrender thing? Something I didn’t have time for. Just thinking about it didn't give me a sense of peace or calm. It bristled my back and raised my defenses. There was no time for surrender. Surrender is sacrificed in the face of stress.
Earlier this week, I was talking to the same friend about I just have too much to take care of to even consider surrendering. And as we talked and I shared how I felt I just had to keep my hands on everything to maintain control, a new image, a new lesson came to me.
The call to surrender is really an invitation to grace. By giving up my need to take care of everything, to be the director of the end all and be all, I am opening myself to the grace of God to move in my life. If I keep my hands clenched tightly on those things that just can't do without me, I have nothing with which to receive that grace.
But if I let go and hold my hands empty and open, I have more than enough capacity to accept the grace that is offered to me, the grace to keep moving forward or the grace to stand in the moment and persevere.
It's not a lesson I'll be able to put into practice all at once, I'm sure. But I have a notion that even small acts of surrender lead to more than enough grace.