The journey that transforms our experience from misery to joy is the decision to surrender to the unknown turn in the road ahead.
I have always been a person that has been in power mode. For the better part of my 41 years of life, I have been attempting to be in control. I have endless notebooks of strategic maps and plans about how I will realize my successes. And, for the most part, I have gotten my way. Generally, life has gone as planned.
- Happy family – check
- Solid spiritual foundation – check
- Loved by friends and family – check
- On top of my business game and in high demand – check
What I didn’t plan for was the possibility that I would find myself hanging onto the edge of life. I was pinned in the backseat of a crushed automobile with two shattered hips, with strangers surrounding me telling me not to let go. At that moment, I had a choice, to be angry and ask “why did this happen to me?” Or, to surrender and say “I trust what is happening to me.”
I chose to embrace the power of surrender. It would become a decision that would steward me through a complete derailment of my best-laid plans.
See, we are never “forced to surrender” nor do we ever “have no other choice.” We choose to surrender to what is beyond our control. Surrender is an empowered choice to redirect energy in a new channel away from negativity, blame, guilt or victimhood.
I spent six weeks in rehab learning to walk again. I would face another three months unable to walk while friends and family members attended to my most basic needs. I had a lot of time to write, pray, think and witness the experience I was having. The following are three of the most powerful advantages I discovered about surrender.
1. Surrender can lead to less injury than what we are fighting to avoid. Inside of the car, I couldn’t move. The X-rays would show that my hips were shattered. One struggle too many in any direction–an attempt to push me out of the seat–could have resulted in immediate death due to the injury of my vital arteries. Likewise in life, we sometimes try so hard to avoid the situation that we are faced with that we create more collateral damage.
2. Surrender can open us to receive love in greater depth than we knew possible. I had NEVER known love at the depth when I stopped pretending to control how it was given to me. Regardless of whatever negativity hits our radar screens or trends on the latest news feed, the truth that I found is that there is more love available to be received than we are consciously aware of on an average day. Love awaits us on the other side of fear and control. In the months to follow (and even today), I see acts of loving kindness in every form–from prayer to acts of service. For a long time, I lived with the belief that I wasn’t worthy of love. Lying in a hospital bed, unable to fend for myself in my typical modes of control, I discovered that in the years of my life, I had not surrendered to love.
3. Surrender creates an opening for the miracles to occur. My greatest blessing was to understand that “tragedy” can be the heartbreaking, devastating opening to an incredible miracle we could never have planned for. When it strikes, nothing can prepare us for the blow. We are left dazed and confused. Speechless. All of our plans ripped away. We grieve for the experiences that will not be as we imagined.
My derailed life has evolved into my enchanted life. It’s paved with miracles in the form healing moments, priceless moments of wonder, expansive love, opportunities to pay forward my blessings. And, ultimate clarity in my calling in how I am to be of service in the world. Had I not surrender to the turns in my tragedy, I would not be here to write this article. I may be strung out on painkillers. I may be depressed. I may be focusing on my “disabilities.” I may be telling a story of victimization and pain.
It is inevitable that life will deliver challenges, disappointments, derailments and tragedies along the way. The journey that transforms our experience from misery to joy is the decision to surrender into the unknown turn in the road ahead. My educated assessment of struggle versus surrender is that it is simply a decision about where energy is exerted. Struggle is to use power to fight the flow. Surrender is to use the power to transform our experience IN the flow. Imagine that in both cases we arrive at a destination. Will we arrive energized? Will we arrive exhausted? We continuously get to choose.
Photo: Flickr/ Alban Gonzalez