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Surrender

By Kenda-Ruth Stumpf

Surrender: To give up or agree to forgo in favor of another.

Often surrender is understood with a militaristic or aggressive connotation of warring powers where to surrender means giving up the right to be either superior or equal and instead accepting a status of inferiority in which you will allow the victor control over your life. It begins with two equal parties; though neither may believe they are equal, they are equal in the sense of shared humanity.

But what does it mean when the two parties are not equal--humans and God? Surrender is a realization that you are not in control of everything--or perhaps anything. Surrender is to give up your insistence on having things your way and allowing whatever life and circumstances to happen as they will. It involves a trust in God as well as an acknowledgement of His power and your powerlessness. Surrender is the final breaking point when your strength fails and you fall apart, unable to rise without aid. It is like complete annihilation without death. In this sense, giving up does not mean you no longer want your original goal, but that you understand it is not within your control. Some things you do will influence the outcome in your favor and some will not--even when those things follow the Unconditionals. Surrender is not giving up, it is giving in.

Surrender is not about a competition where one person or group conquers another. It is not about failure, weakness or being beaten or an acknowledgment of superiority to a competitor. Surrender is about Accepting and acknowledging where you are powerless and trusting in a Higher Power to take over. The Higher Power does not wrestle control from you and gloat with superior power, rather it embraces you, nurturing you and carrying you when you are in need.

The Serenity Prayer provides an understandable explanation of Surrender. You are likely familiar with the first stanza adopted by 12 step programs, but the entire prayer shows an understanding for Surrender as a deep Trust and Acceptance.

The Serenity Prayer

By Reinhold Niebuhr
God, give us grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.

Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.
Amen.

Surrender permeates the entire prayer, starting in the first line with an acknowledgement that it is not us but God who gives the grace to accept and not our own doing. Knowing the difference between what is internal or yours to manage and what is external and thus not within your control is often the greatest challenge which is why it is that portion that has become the most famous. But look again at the middle of the second stanza: Taking, as Jesus did,/ This sinful world as it is,/ Not as I would have it...This is about Acceptance; accepting that not only can you not change things, but you are not meant to change things. Taking the world as it is means loving it whether you like it or not. It is the ability to admit you need and Accept help; an active acknowledgement that not only can you not control things external to your Self, but often you cannot control your Self either. It is a release of your Self, giving your Self over to trust in the Higher Power of the universe, an emptying and relinquishing of power to God when you know something is beyond your capabilities.

Surrender is about finally accepting you cannot rescue your MLCer, though you may have come to an intellectual understanding of this with detachment, with Surrender you accept what you know. It stabilizes Detachment and Letting-Go, trusting in those behaviors, whereas without Surrender, you quake from the distance provided by release with the urge to rush through the boundary and rescue your MLCer, or fearing and experiencing their emotional energy at your emotional stability (detachment), you fail to maintain it by reacting.

Passive Resistance

Fighting yields fighting. Turn the other cheek is not about passivity; rather it is about nonviolence--passive resistance. One aspect of peace is as the opposite of fighting, and yet many respond as though the solution to fighting is more fighting. He hit me first is meant as a justification for a return punch. Consider the metaphor of turning the other cheek in the context of Nature. Ride the waves or go with the current rather than fighting to swim upstream toward shore. The current will lead to shore, but perhaps at a different location than your intended destination. But fighting the current will tire you to the point of drowning or yielding and you will arrive at the unintended destination fatigued or worse.

Win by not fighting. Win by releasing the need to control, the need to always be right, and to have the last word. Win by surrendering the present for reconciliation in the future. Acceptance is like a boat steered without external oars, but with a rudder, which acts as a fin and natural extension of the vessel. Oars are external appendages that instead of working with the water attack it in an attempt to control. Acceptance is a partnership in which the boat and water work together.

It is an indication of Surrender when you choose joy regardless of outcome. This does not mean something does not matter--having your spouse come home may matter greatly; acknowledge your preferred outcome, but whether it happens or not, choose joy. Surrender involves trust, a trust in something beyond your Self and your personal power. It is a trust in the world, in God, a trust that life provides what you need whether you like it or not.

Is Surrender ever permanent?
I don't know, I'm not there yet! But is it ever complete? Possibly, but it is fleeting, achieved in a flash of insight that quickly dissipates, leaving you wondering what it was or how you understood it. Surrendering is a life-long process.

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