In which God and I Disagree about Surrender

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.

6 thoughts on “In which God and I Disagree about Surrender

  1. Laughter and tears. God and I always disagree about surrender. Sometimes I get it in little snatches and then give it back. This writing helps me a lot. Thank you.

  2. WONDERFUL!!!!! I needed this laugh. My conversations aren’t so very different but as I age…… (some advantages!) I’m starting to “GET IT” – thanks. You are a treasure!
    Here’s a wee story: I had a BAD behaving cousin just a few years my senior – we’ll call GEORGE – he died. I LOVED him. I thought I couldn’t go to his Tulsa, OK funeral because of a gig. On my car RADIO Kenny Loggins was singing “PLEASE celebrate me home, WONT YOU JUST PLEASE elevate me home.” (While I was grousing to God about George dying when it was inconvenient for me to go! #%&! Then, I got it! “Ok, George, I will CELEBRATE you going into the LIGHT” right here and NOW. I sang with Kenny and tears streamed down my face and I felt the JOY of his passing. Once home, the gig called and had to postpone! I WENT to OK, celebrated more! And a week later George came to me in a dream NAKED (oh brother!) I woke up laughing as I heard him saying, “Surrender, Baby! It’s ALL about Surrender!” Here’s to our learning, allowing, surrender!

  3. Rachel….Such big concepts: acceptance, grace, surrender, love fulfilled. Ideal, appealing and so difficult. Why does it seem easier to try to do everything ourselves? Or so much simpler to maintain control than let go and let God. I, too, find myself resisting surrender, even when I know it holds all I desire. It’s as if though it is there freely given, I still want to earn it…though that is impossible, as if I could earn anyone’s love…let alone God’s. Well, you did it again…made me think! Thank you…Joanne

    • Thanks for your thoughtful comment, Joanne. “It’s as if though it is there freely given, I still want to earn it.” Sounds familiar.

      On Sat, Feb 6, 2016 at 6:17 PM, Being Finite wrote:

      >

    • Hi Joanne,

      I was trying to reply to your other comment on The Love That We Are and instead inadvertently deleted it. Sorry about that. In it, you told about the Egyptian tradition of weighing the heart after death–I like the idea behind that. You also mentioned weaving a path of grace through a mine field. I think we are being asked to see the whole thing as grace, mine field and all. Can’t say I understand that yet, but that’s what I hear my teachers saying.

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