Apparently it is not particularly effective to wake up and say, “Today, I will force myself to surrender to the Divine Presence in my life.” This approach, it turns out, is opposed to the whole surrendering gig. It is a little like saying, “Be happy or I will smash you.”
My approach to surrender has looked something like this:
God: I got this.
Me: OK, I’m going to do these five things to put myself in the right frame of mind so that you can get this.
God: But I already got it.
Me: Right, that’s why I have to do these five things—so you can get it.
This tightly controlled worthiness doesn’t seem to be exactly what we’re called to do.
Surrender, like every other gift in life, is not something we can earn. It is given or it is not, and the only thing we can do is create a space so that we can receive it when it comes. Creating space is not the same thing as doing it ourselves. Practice is good, but practicing with the aim of accomplishing any sort of goal is not so good, which is an annoying thing about the whole spiritual journey. I mean, what would a little bit of achievement thrown in here and there hurt?
Here in California, the first trees are starting to blossom. On campus, there are trees covered in flowers, and a hundred feet away there are trees with bare branches. I could be wrong, but I don’t think the bare-branched trees look at the flowering trees and start trying to form buds. They know enough to wait, and when it’s time, buds will form and then surrender to the beauty of full bloom.