On Life:: Where The Power Is
Updated: Jun 26, 2019
“Isn’t surrender just settling”, she asked, hesitant to buy into the concept I was offering: that surrender is the location of deepest power as women, that accepting life on life’s terms was the most sure fire way to happiness and deep seated in your bones satisfaction and joy.
I know the inquiry she raised all too well. As a culture, we are accustomed to see surrender, not as a thing of power by any stretch of the imagination, but rather as a weakness. Surrendering has been equated with giving up, throwing in the towel, not fighting or pushing for the thing that YOU want to have happen. I pushed and pushed and pushed for far too long. The idea of surrender meant giving up, being at the mercy of someone else. It was at its basic, the weak position, the loser. Surrender was only the thing you did when you were giving up because you couldn’t be the winner.
We are encouraged to “stand our ground”, “be in control”, “have it your way”.
None of these things on their own are bad ideas or contain hurtful information. When we take these ideas and motivations and allow them to disconnect us from the natural flow that is life, we miss the richness that life is offering, through the good and the bad experiences. Meaning: people act badly, family members die, tragedy happens, your heart breaks, you get fired, your whole life gets tipped upside down without one shred of your consent. These things happen. That’s just how it goes. As I see it, you have two options: you can fight and be mad and curse god and let your heart be hardened OR you can feel the grief, the fear, the agony, the uncertainty and the heartbreak ALL the way through. You let it run through you until it runs clear. You say “okay, this is happening, and wow it sucks. But okay, I will surrender, feel it and deal with it and let myself be changed by it.”
And from there, dare I say, feeling the grief, the heartache, the manic, intense emotions becomes a pleasurable experience. Not pleasure as we normally categorize it, but pleasure in that you are connected to the pulse of life, the pulse of your life. You aren’t fighting, are trying to will your way, you are allowing yourself to be taken and through that there is a sweet kind of connection that unfolds and moves you along to the next and the next and the next right thing. And in that, there is a deep serenity, a peace in ones soul that is undeniably real, tender and certain.
Just over a year ago, I was brought to my knees by a man who I got a little drunk on and failed to see clearly. He acted in some of the sneakiest, selfish, nastiest ways a man can. And I fought, fought, fought. I pointed out everywhere I thought he was wrong, unconscious, acting foolishly. I was right, couldn’t he see that? This shouldn’t be happening! I cursed god, I cursed him, I cursed and bitched and fought in everyway I knew how. And none of it worked. The skies didn’t open for god to change the course of things, this man didn’t come to his senses and say oh my god you are so right thank you for forcing me to see how badly I’ve been acting (although to his credit, he did apologize and admit to all the things I had sensed and felt many many months later). But while in the thick of it, I didn’t surrender. And it caused me FAR more pain than had I said, “wow, you just leveled me. Okay this sucks, but I will feel it and deal with it and let myself be changed by it.”
I learned surrender the hard way, through not surrendering, I found the grace that is surrender when it was the only option left that didn’t leave me feeling miserable, strung out and rageful. I learned that surrender means accepting what life brings us, trusting that something wiser than our own intellect directs the pulse of Life, and that maybe we in fact do not know best.
So to my friend’s question, I explained that surrender is nearly the opposite of settling, surrender is an active state of being, it requires that you let life move and change and affect you how it will and that on the other side, you are actually grateful and different because of that surrender. Settling is merely a lazy man’s way of giving up on one’s desire. And in surrender, desire can reign supreme. You can still want what you want and surrender to what is in the moment.
And when you surrender, when you don’t fight the inevitable, when you allow yourself to be moved and changed by your life, miraculous things happen. Some benevolent force comes in and carries you, loves you, brings you what you need just when you need it. It is the quinesstenial lesson in ceasing the demand of control; when you give it up, something else, something bigger and more powerful and frankly smarter than you, takes over.
Surrender is an unyielding master, it asks for full faith. When you give yourself to it, then and only then do you receive the grace and acceptance no amount of your own will and effort could deliver.