It doesn’t seem like it should be so hard. Just let go. Surrender. Yet letting go is one of the hardest things we are called to do as human beings.
I grew up water skiing. My stepdad would always tell me that if I felt like I was going to fall or I was getting too tired, to just let go and drop the rope. The problem was, I was competitive. I wanted to be the best. I always thought that I could correct my wobbles and stay up, I could push through the fatigue and complete one more loop. Every time I refused to let go of that rope, I found myself hurt. (Probably why I don’t do much water skiing these days)
I find this a helpful analogy when I explain to clients and friends about my journey of surrender. Since I was a kid, I’ve had people telling me what I was and wasn’t good at. I’ve had people telling me what I should and shouldn’t do. Along the way I hung onto those narratives and rode the wake without thinking about it. Without much intention.
I went to college because that’s what I was supposed to do. I took a decent paying job that led me down a successful career in sales without much thought. I continued to climb the ladder and accumulate nice things and go on nice trips and buy a nice house because I wanted to be the best and I wanted what everyone else had.
It felt good to be recognized and acknowledged for my accomplishments. I took pride in how busy I was and how popular I was…and I loved it. But something was still missing deep in my soul. No matter how much good was happening in my life, there was an empty space I couldn’t fill.
I started to wonder about the big questions of life. Is this all there is? What are we here for? I sought out some of my friends who lived very differently than I did. They seemed happy with little. I loved spending time with them because of their wisdom, their calm and peaceful energy, and because of the way they loved and really saw me. They encouraged me to slow down.
How could I slow down? I would miss out on all the invites, the opportunities. It was terrifying to step off the hamster wheel, but I was convinced to try it when a friend pointed out that I may miss out on the biggest things of all if I am unwilling to sacrifice missing out on all these small things. Unfortunately for us running the rat race, the first step in letting go and surrendering is separating ourselves from the busyness and the noise. Literally making space in your life for silence and solitude. Just to be.
In that silence and solitude you have the ability to reconnect with your heart and your gut. Your intuition and your spirit. Those parts of us we all cut off because we are so focused on using our brain and logic to make decisions. So focused on being productive and achieving.
In that silence I began to realize the difference between what I wanted (my ego) and what God wanted. What the world was telling me and what God was telling me. I realized many of my choices were motivated by fear instead of love. My priorities were reflective of the world and not of Heaven. It wasn’t so much the WHAT I was doing that needed to change, but the HOW I was doing it, and the WHO FOR. My heart shifted.
The second step is purposefully making time to listen. No inputs, no outputs, just listening for God’s voice. This is an active, disciplined practice of opening up your mind and heart, your eyes and ears, to what He is always trying to tell you. Inviting Him into all corners of your life.
This is why I start my day with Him. Thanking Him for the day. Asking Him what He wants me to know. Praying that He will give me His wisdom and words and allow me to carry out His will in His way. Reading His word. The more I practice moment-by-moment, taking my ideas and problems to Him, the clearer His voice is to me.
Then comes the active part of letting go. Of surrender. In any given moment you choose His way and His priority over yours. You do your part and allow Him to work His plan. If you are an anxious or controlling person, this is going to be very difficult! Practice by starting small. Situations where the stakes are low and build from there.
For instance, let your kids make a choice you feel pulled to make for them and see what happens. Allow a situation to play out instead of trying to control every part, and observe the outcome. Actively pray for what you want the outcome to be and let God do His work. If your experience is anything like mine, you’ll start to realize you were squandering the beauty of what is possible by trying to control it all. I found out quickly that God’s plan was way better than mine! I found out He can intercede for people and take care of their needs in much larger ways than I can!
Someone recently asked me, how do you know you have surrendered and truly let go? For me, I know when I can feel peace in the most stressful moments. That’s when I know. I do my part, and surrender the outcome to God. I trust Him completely, so completely, that even if the outcome is devastatingly opposite of what I wanted, I am at peace. What a blessed way to live…full of love and peace and lessons. This is the life we are all invited to live. It’s your choice. Just let go.