This is the change I’ve been working on.
And yes, I’m telling you I’m working on surrendering, which is hilarious, and is so exactly me. I am so bad at surrender, that I think I have to work at it.
In my last post, I talked about surrender and acceptance as a possible response to a catalytic event. My discussion of surrender was brief though, and given events in the U.S. this week (to which I struggle to surrender at all much less comfortably), I think it’s worth taking a few moments to consider surrender further here.
What does it mean to surrender to an event? For many of us, surrender is synonymous with giving up, and giving up is really not encouraged in Western culture. What does it mean to give up and what does it mean to surrender? Are they the same thing? What do we give up when we surrender? Why does our culture look down on surrendering?
The word surrender is often used in a military context. When one surrenders in battle, one does give up. One gives up the fight AND one gives up the right to whatever was the object of the battle to begin with. Land is ceded; property lost; power transferred. It is no wonder we are reluctant to surrender. In our understanding, surrender means giving up everything and gaining nothing. It is always better, we are taught, to continue to fight.
What would surrender look like if it came with a benefit? In order to contemplate this, we need to acknowledge the singular benefit of military surrender, which is the reestablishment of peace, the cessation to the loss of life. Those who remain may have different lives, but they are alive after all. How does this translate off of the battlefield?
Surrendering in the face of a catalytic event takes on a different meaning. One doesn’t give up a battle with an armed opponent. One doesn’t wave a white flag for a cease fire. Surrendering to an event means ceasing to resist the reality of what is occurring and what has occurred. Surrendering to an event means letting go of the “should be” in favor of the “is.” You don’t have to like it to acknowledge that it is. Surrendering to an event means letting go of our expectations and disappointment and beginning to assess the current situation, rather than yesterday’s, in order to develop a creative response to what is ACTUALLY happening right now. Again, you don’t have to like it.
Surrendering to an event means letting go of how we thought it would go, and letting go of what we believe is coming next. Surrendering means being here now, in the newly changed world, and seeing how it is, and how it isn’t, actually different. After all, reacting to what I assume is coming next may be both draining AND a complete waste of time. Staying in yesterday’s developments may blind me to opportunities for growth in this moment, today. Assuming I understand WHY these things are happening prevents me from being curious enough to risk relationship, to ask questions and talk with other people who may need to know me more than anyone else, who may be new partners in our new world. Surrender brings relief AND allows us to meet the new challenge as it arises.
The thing about surrender is that it’s really not that hard to actually do. If you are ready to surrender, I strongly recommend that you plant your feet on the ground, sit comfortably, and take a few deep breaths. Do that for a few minutes to allow your inner warrior to chill out. Breathe into the bottom of your lungs. Breathe into your belly. Feel your heart beat. Notice as you feel more calm. Notice that you are safe in this moment. Tell your inner warrior that it’s okay to put the weapons down (you can pick them up again later). Stay in that peace and rest for just a few minutes. Fighting is so hard, so tiring. After you have rested, ask yourself what is different today. Ask yourself how you can help. Ask yourself what you need. Ask yourself what love wants. Ask yourself where peace is. Ask yourself if there is a fight for you in this moment. Ask yourself to believe you have a place in the world that is unfolding. Surrender is not giving up. Surrender is living and responding with love to what IS now.