The Surrender Lesson

Was I absolutely crazy to pick a word like “surrender” for 2016? Yes. That’s a definite yes. But I felt led to do it, and so that’s the word I chose.

I can remember getting the first nudge to do that back in October 2015. I was moving in a rental climate where there were few homes/apartments available, and none affordable (if you live in Central Oregon, you know exactly what I’m talking about). Leaving my old house was surrendering the last piece of the life I had once loved so much, but there was nothing I could do. It had basically been decided for me, and I knew if I wanted to have any peace with the transition, I would have to surrender to that which I could not change.

I started seeing feathers everywhere, and pictures of dandelions on social media that read, “Let go.” I resisted for a long time, though, telling people I “might” have found my word, but that I wasn’t happy with it. I couldn’t even surrender to choosing the word surrender.

Once the last week of December came around, though, I was solidly ready to commit to that word, even knowing I might have a successful run with surrendering. But I was willing to give it a try.

I spent the majority of the year really struggling to find an expression and definition of surrender that resonated with me. More accurately, I tried to find some way to piece together the two principles that I believed in so deeply: 1) sometimes, we really do have to let go and surrender, but 2) we are the author of our own lives.

So yeah, that’s been a bit confusing for me. Where do we strike the balance between surrendering to what is and writing our own stories, creating our own destinies? In fact, those two statements seem completely at odds with one another, right?

One of the ways I tried to “spin” surrender so that it felt more comfortable for me was to call it a swoon. To let myself fall backwards into the arms of the Divine and let It take care of me. That worked some of the time, but it definitely didn’t help me understand how to write my story and take control.

How do you take control and surrender? Ack!

I even read Michael Singer’s The Surrender Experiment (which is fantastic, by the way), to help me with guidance, and I was still baffled about how to work surrender into my life. I mean, it seems like it would be easy – Singer took it to the extreme and just surrendered to everything that came into his path. And yet…….I noticed that he was largely doing things that interested him, things that he wanted to do, and his surrender kept moving him into greater levels of personal mastery of his spiritual and recreational interests.

My own experience with surrender, whether in this year’s experiment or at any other time in my life, has look vastly different. Surrender for me has mostly looked like doing things I absolutely do not want to do, enduring months and sometimes years of making my way down paths I have zero interest in being on, while my actual interests and expertise seem far, far away, and trying to make peace with circumstances that make me feel trapped and dissatisfied. I’m not suggesting that Singer’s life has been a bed of roses, but even in the depths of the lawsuit that plagued him for years, he appeared to be relatively satisfied with his life, and seemed to have been led to pursue his interests at every turn.

Admittedly, after reading that book, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was “surrendering incorrectly.” I think it’s essential that I’ve played with this dynamic all year, but I still feel like the concept hasn’t really “clicked” for me. It’s something I know I will be working on more in 2017, even though the word I’ve picked for next year is vastly different than surrender.

But I think my new word, different as it may be, is exactly what I need. It’s a little yang for 2016’s yin, and I think it might help me crack that surrender nut a little harder. (Or am I not supposed to crack it? Maybe that’s part of surrendering. See? I still don’t know!)

In any case, I am so ready to author my own life in much bigger ways than I have before. I don’t want to go on feeling like I’m just enduring 80% of my life and holding my breath for the other 20%. I’m too old for that. There isn’t enough time left for that.

So it’s time to move into 2017 with surrender in one hand and my new word in the other. (Stay tuned.)