After yesterday’s post, I asked my friend,
“Tell me what surrender looks like for you?”
I took notes and wrote my own recounting. Here are just of few
of those he shared. He began each example with the words,
+ + +
It looks like coming to terms with the past. It was
good, it was bad, it was, well, I can’t remember.
All of that you come to terms with.
Facing it, raging against it, wailing over it, forgiving it,
trusting God to bring good from it by doing all
in your power to help him make that good a reality.
Mostly in extremely tiny matters no one cares about,
It looks like patience, accepting your relapses, not
pretending healing in this life is ever complete, though
never giving up on hope. Hope is the golden key to
surrender, because it allows you to see the darkness
as dark, yet see it pregnant with a dawn inexorably rising.
And when you can’t hope, get someone else involved to help.
It looks like humility, acknowledging, dealing with, being realistic
about, yet moving toward embracing your ugly limits and embarrassing
weaknesses, even while risking strengths requiring endless re-dos.
We try again, fail again, and fail better. This means to
give up on your perfectionism while you seek perfection. If you
can accept perfect includes stumbling, tripping, limping, walking,
crawling and being carried, perfection is in your reach at every
step along the way. This requires the ability to weep and laugh.
It looks like praying every day, whether you want to or not,
feel it or not, believe it or not that day – especially when not –
because you know without it all is lost. And “nots” are the best
places for every act of surrender. Look for them, value them,
they come to you so often you should feel spoiled by your
opportunities for surrender.
It looks like seeing in your needy neighbors, difficult and ungrateful
neighbors an invitation to surrender your wares to them by
small acts of mercy, alms of body and spirit, especially those who
to you seem to deserve none of it. This is a precious exercise
in God’s sight, a calling down of heaven like no other.
It looks like giving up your addiction to controlling everything
and everyone. Let people be themselves, give them a break.
Love them where they are, and if you have to kick their asses
for their own good when they need it, at least leave the results
up to them and God. Stop pining for all to like you, approve of
you, cheer for you. Or at least choose to avoid the ways you try
to strong arm or maneuver approval. When others disapprove,
differ, ignore, criticize – work through it with someone you trust.
But even more, know that your needy and manipulative self is
precisely the one God is madly in love with, even as he shows
you another way called the cross every day.
It looks like letting go of the compulsion to justify your
existence by having to always being productive, needed,
helpful, successful, funny, smart, whatever.
Don’t wait for an illness or misfortune to steal away your
abilities, to only then start work on letting go of the belief
you need to earn the right to exist, the right to be loved.
God alone gives you that right, freely, unearned, without
need for prior justification. So to let go, you must cling to him.
It looks like holding every moment, every person, every event,
everything in open hands, knowing whatever you give freedom to,
if it is to be yours, it will come back to you in God’s time and manner.
Trying to see Providence in everything, starting with the smallest things
every day, believing Providence is what the cross and resurrection
tell us it is. And then we’re never surprised, and yet always surprised.
It looks like accepting appropriate responsibility for your decisions,
for your screw ups, for digging your various graves. If you fail to do
that, always deflecting responsibility and placing blame elsewhere
(even on God), not only are you unable to grow up, but your lament
will have no place to rest. Repentance, accepting natural consequences
for decisions, recognizing limits, growing in wisdom from life and learning
God’s primary trade – how to make fertilizer from the dung – that’s all
part of surrender.
But mostly it looks like time’s passing, which sometimes is the only way
surrender comes … surrender through attrition, like a rock made
smooth succumbing to trillions of waves, each removing a micron of
resistance. Or like a fist clenching tightly to its sand which, imperceptibly
through the years, falls away till there is nothing left to hold onto.
As age strips things away from you, you need not act, but only consent,
knowing God is keeping them all safe in his treasury. Christ’s perfect
act was found in saying, “Into your hands, Father, I surrender my spirit.”
In all of this you learn life’s grounding truth: nothing, nothing, nothing
is yours, all is gift, all belongs to God, and surrender is the only way
he has made for us to receive what he offers. It’s why death is the only fitting coda to life.
In all of these, Christ led the way, leads the way, is the way.
Sit at his feet often and say to him, “Teach me.” He infallibly will.