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Surrender

2 pines w moon w cBy Stephanie Gretchen Burgevin. Stephanie is a writer and retreat leader. She is an associate faculty member of Shalem and a graduate of theirLeading Contemplative Prayer Groups and Retreats Program and leads spiritual and secular programs. Stephanie manages Shalem’s blog and is one of the social media coordinators for the Shalem Institute Facebook page.

What thoughts or feelings come to you when you hear this word? Surrender.
It has a lot of mixed feelings, at least in spiritual groups. I have heard more than once from ministers, priests, colleagues, neighbors, young, old, male, female, “I have trouble with that word.” But at the same time we hear we should surrender to God.
What bothers some of us about this word, this concept? Is it our pride, our fear of seeming not to be in control, not wanting to give up, too big a leap of faith?
Often, when there is some sort of resistance, there is our growing edge.  What we resist, what repels us is what we are being called to look at.
I became friends with surrender many years ago, when I was going through a very dark time in my life. Marriage, career, money…lots of pain. I got to a place where I just couldn’t fight it anymore. All the coping mechanisms, all the alternatives I knew were not working. I did not know where to turn or what to do. There was nothing anyone could do for me. It was all raw me and I had no more ideas on how to move forward.
I have always been very independent, which is a double-edged sword. A great weight was lifted from me when I realized that not only could I not figure it all out and do it myself, but I didn’t have to try to. I didn’t need to keep hitting my head against the wall.
When I hear the word surrender now, I feel free. The weight of me trying to figure it out on my own is gone. It’s about giving over my burdens, not giving up. It’s about letting go and letting God. It’s about trusting that God is taking care of it.

What is your experience?

2 responses to “Surrender”

  1. I have a conflicted relationship to surrender. What is the difference between surrender and abdication? Coming from a history of abdication makes this complicated for me. I am very aware that I cannot “accomplish” surrender. Andrew Murray’s prayer is very helpful to me:

    My heart’s desire and delight, O God, is absolute surrender,
    but I cannot perform it.
    It is impossible for me to live that life.
    It is beyond me.
    It is impossible for me, O God.
    Let there be an end to flesh and all its powers,
    and an end to self,
    and let it be my glory to be helpless.

  2. Vulnerability, which perhaps comes along with surrender, is another word that troubles me. Yes, it comes after giving up control, and there is a need for trust too. I had surgery recently, and at some point I realized how unprepared I was for dealing with it. I finally asked friends for prayer and support. I like to be self-sufficient and don’t like asking for help, but I went into the operation feeling very light and buoyed up, knowing I was not alone and something mysterious and surprising was with me. Why is it that the stuff that leads to good things, is so hard to do?

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