This is the third time I’ve attempted to write this post. Each time I’ve written it it mysteriously deletes itself or doesn’t save properly. So…the Universe is asking me to practice what I preach (or write) with this one.
Surrender is one of those words that I believe has been deeply misunderstood in the English language. Typically, it’s been used in conjunction with wartime to denote a loss on the battle field or a relinquishment of sovereignty. When did we remove all of the beauty from this word and from this state of being?
I first connected to the word in a different way in relation to the qualities of the Divine Feminine. Regardless of physical gender, we all have masculine and feminine qualities within, or yang and yin for those familiar with Eastern philosophy. Surrender, along with the element of water, flow, the moon, compassion, creativity, nurturing and “being” is typically associated with the Mother principle, or divine feminine (yin) in Eastern spiritual traditions. The masculine, Father principle (yang), is typically described as the active, linear, steady and “doing” force and is associated with the element of fire and the sun.
So surrender in the spiritual sense has a different meaning than the “rolling over” or “giving up” aspect we might associate with it.
The word surrender when we perceive it in a different way comes with a connotation of great strength rather than great weakness. Surrender is the state of openness to the unknown, in which we cannot know what comes next in our lives but can allow each moment to stand exactly as it presents itself to us. Surrender asks us to release our expectations about what’s next, to release our tight grip over control, and to allow a flow to take hold in our lives. There is courage in facing exactly what appears. True surrender doesn’t shield one from difficulties or negative outcomes. It simply asks us to accept that we can’t know or control each moment in the context of a broader orchestration or larger divine dance.
Surrendering to the possibilities around us at any moment contains an element of fear. If I surrender to all of the unknown possibilities in this moment, it could mean that I could face some danger from which I won’t recover. But in the act of closing ourselves off to the anxiety of feared consequences, we often shut our emotional systems down to positive sensations as well, like love, pleasure, excitement, joy, and calm.
Sometimes we spend so much of our mental and emotional resources trying to predict or prevent small or large shake-ups in our lives that we lock away our energy into narrowly focused worries. And we don’t realize that often these worst moments, when they happen, are the ones that end up defining us the most, unlocking the hidden resources and paths we didn’t before see.
Reconnecting to the flow in my life has required some extreme rewrites and redirects. An ill-advised cleanse which landed me in the ER seven years ago led to a dietary overhaul and a search for answers through alternative medicine. Quitting a job (that I thought I would love) eight months into a three year contract gave me the fire in my belly to eventually work for myself. A jarring kundalini awakening five months before my graduation date led to an exploration of spirituality and energy healing. For me, these moments of painful and unplanned surrender were unwelcome at first, but they represented the beginnings of a much larger and more rewarding healing journey.
The lesson of the Divine Feminine is that from our place of greatest struggle and pain comes our greatest potential and possibility, our greatest inner resiliency, if we can only open and let go. The true face of surrender is not giving up. It is allowing the freedom to feel all of ourselves without contraction and having the courage to release what needs to go and invite what wishes to flow.