what it means to surrender

Surrender, in the spiritual sense, can be a difficult concept.

In my experience, whenever I've heard someone say they're surrendered to God what follows is something horrible.

The god they're surrendering to doesn't resemble the God I know. The god speaking to them is a god of the ego or psychosis.

Perhaps it is because the word surrender is so often associated with the language of battle, it carries with it an energy something like defeat. 

If I surrender, have I given up?

If I surrender, do I lose myself?

Well, I think. Sort of.

My experience is that God acts in my life, often times through me, without my intellectual involvement. 

The best work I do - painting, writing, coaching, intuiting - is always done with my mind unhooked. My best work always happens when I'm not thinking about it or trying to figure it out. 

This is not to say that I don't think about my work or try to figure things out, but rather, in moment of creation, when I'm in the field, it really isn't about me or my thoughts anymore. Something else is moving and acting.

Sometimes I'll notice, for instance, that I'm typing away, changing something about my website and it's almost as if I'm the observer. The thing I'm doing isn't something I planned to do, I'm not doing it because my brain is telling me to do it. 

Sometimes I uncover old pieces of writing, and while I can clearly see that I wrote these things, I have no memory of them. It's as if someone else wrote them through me.

When I look back at my life, I can see the decisions I made and the results of those decisions, but I can also see that at every significant juncture, something else was making decisions for me. Doors were opened, opportunities appeared, I was guided into places and relationships and moments so strongly, I really didn't have much of a choice. These were things that were meant to happen.

The only choice I made was how hard I fought it.

How long I argued with God.

I believe I have free will. Life is filled with endless options and possibilities.

I believe I am in a constant state of change and that I have a fair amount of control over what changes and how and when. (I'm exploring cellular change at the moment and how much I can influence my physical state.)

But I also know there are moments, situations, and events over which I have no control. These events don't feel changeable to me. They feel destined. Fated. Meant to be.

So perhaps it is, I came into this body and this life with a set of gifts and proclivities, a map and potential, and to some degree, the choices I make or how I engage my free will determine the life I live, but on that map there are also some things that are written in stone. Perhaps these are agreements I made with God before I was born. Or perhaps as the journey of my life unfolds, God must insert God's self (God's will) as a response to the choices I'm making.

I can see, when I gaze back at my life, that almost every time I've regretted a decision or gotten myself into a situation that caused suffering for myself or others, this regret could have been avoided had I heeded my intuition (one of the ways God speaks to me.)

This is not to say that pain or difficulty can be avoided, or even that it should be, but it does seem to me that one of the things God wants, if God does indeed have desire, is for God's creatures to live in love and even joy.

It does seem that while pain and darkness and confusion can't be all together avoided, God tries to steer me into ease.

While I can only see a little bit of reality, God can see with the eyes of infinity. So, at the risk of the anthropomorphization of God, God knows best.

Why then, does the concept of surrendering to God seem so difficult, even dangerous to me?

If I believe that God is Love, if I believe that God is loving, if I believe that God is the source of all life, then why should I fear God's call?

I suppose the answer is, because I am human.

And also perhaps because I'm well-versed in the stories of martyrs and saints and I don't particularly want to go that way. Even though I know that violence and torture and injustice are human creations, not God's, those stories are grooved into my subconscious and whisper to me that following God's lead is dangerous...which, of course, it is.

But when I think the word surrender, I immediately think of water.

When I imagine what it looks like to surrender to God, I see myself in a river. 

The Holy Spirit moves through water. 

To surrender is to lie back into the flow, to allow myself to be carried by the current of God.

It is a good thing that I don't have to figure everything out. It is a good thing to trust when what I am trusting in is Divine Love and purpose.

So I am wary when I hear someone say, "I've surrendered to God," because in my experience and historically, the notion of God's will or claims of knowing what God wants have been used to justify cruel and unspeakable things.

But what if surrender isn't so much about God as an actor acting upon me, but God as a lover, loving and redeeming me?

What if surrender is giving back to God everything I've been carrying that has become too heavy to carry, everything I've been trying to understand that is not understandable, everything I've been trying to do that was never mine to do?

Surrender      Acrylic on Canvas      2015

Surrender  Acrylic on Canvas  2015

What if surrendering to God doesn't mean that I know what God is going to do, but simply that I trust God to do what should be done, the plan that was set in motion long before my birth?

What if surrender means I get to let go of my grip and be carried?

What if to surrender is to be carried by Love?


Well, in that case, I surrender.