I saw this great meme on Facebook about how, in the autumn, the trees give us a beautiful example of letting go of what’s dead. This is a statement about surrender.
And here’s the thing; I have a love/hate relationship with that word. Our whole culture has a love/hate relationship with that word. What our philosophy teaches is that Spirit takes on form (this physical world), has some experiences, and then abandons the original form to take on another form. Spirit is good at surrendering that first form and has been doing it for billions of years. Can you imagine if Spirit had refused to let go of the form of dinosaurs? Our daily commute the office would be far more exciting.
On the one hand, surrender means that I lost. It means that I gave up on something. When I got divorced, the hardest thing to do was surrender those wedding vows and all the promises I’d made and dreams I’d dreamed. I thought being married meant I never had to be alone again, that I’d always have the support of my spouse and that I was done with being seen a not-fully-matured as a woman in this society. And I’ll be honest – there’s a certain safety in being married. That wedding ring gets rid of a lot of unwanted attention.
On the other hand, things I believed about marriage and what it all meant needed to be surrendered if I was going to live in the real world. Arguing with what is and trying to force what I believe should be the truth will never lead to happiness. Surrender means freedom from the fight. Surrender means allowing the truth of this reality to be true and to be what I work with. Let me tell you, it was much easier to take on a new “form” in my life once I admitted that the original form was dead.
Ah, but how do I know the difference between time to persevere and time to surrender, you ask. Well, I can’t tell you that. You’ll have your own set of signals. I know that for me, if something is making me miserable and I’m getting myself all tied up in knots around my judgment of what I’m seeing, it’s time to at least temporarily surrender it. I can’t tell you how many times I walked away from writing something because it just wasn’t coming out, only to come back later and have it write itself. In the time in between, I’d been focusing on other things, maybe doing something physical rather than intellectual, and quietly surrendering what I thought needed to be written.
I could have stayed in my marriage. Lucky for me, I’d seen what staying in an unhappy marriage looks like. Because I was willing to surrender, I now work in a career that is my calling as well as my job. He went back and married his old girlfriend and (I’m told) has a happy life and career in the military. I like to believe he and his family are happy in the life that would have made me miserable. I know I’m happy in the life that he would have hated. What has been surrendered is the idea that one of us had to be wrong for each of us to have the life we love.
Surrender has led to some of the most beautiful new growth in my world. And yes, some of the old stuff has claw marks on it, but there will be other opportunities to let go gracefully.