“Sweet surrender
Is all that I have to give”–Sarah McLachlan, “Sweet Surrender”

In the popular lexicon, we think of surrender in terms of the end of war when one side gives up completely to the other. In movies, the criminals finally surrender to the police. We think of surrender as giving up, and most often in terms of defeat. Surrender, in a traditional meaning, means giving up control to someone else or something else. For me, surrender has changed its meaning and significance over time. In fact, this morning, the word and meaning changed completely for me.

For a couple of days, I had been thinking about the state of my life, in terms of an assessment. The questions came and went, and while I considered the situational circumstances, it was really more of an internal process. How am I doing in my career? How am I doing in my health? How am I doing financially, and in terms of my relationship with money? How am I doing in terms of my relationships with family? How am I doing in my spirituality? How am I doing in terms of my relationship with myself? How am I doing in terms of my friendships? How am I doing in terms of love? How am I doing in terms of loving myself? How am I doing with myself in terms of being a “good” person? I wasn’t looking for answers in terms of external “success,” but more about how I felt in terms of peace within those questions. I thought a lot about which areas of my life where I felt peaceful, and which ones where I did not.

Last night, I felt like I had reached the end of the questions, at least for the moment. It was difficult to figure out what had brought on the questions. Although for me, questioning and thinking, in terms of spirituality and my life, is a familiar exercise, sometimes deliberate, sometimes not. It wasn’t a birthday or anniversary of any particular event, but maybe it had to do with the season of fall and recent conversations with a good friend.

Last night, I made a pot of tea and sunk into the couch to watch a few episodes of a guilty pleasure TV show. I purposefully pushed the questions away and lost myself in the story of something else. Last night, the word that was on my mind before I went to sleep was “surrender,” I kid you not. This Sunday morning, I woke up early. My heart and mind were quiet and I felt calm. I opened my patio door and curled up in the turquoise Adirondack chair and felt the silence. I drank coffee and felt the steam from the cup and the cool energy of autumn. After almost an hour, I returned inside and picked up my phone. I opened up the e-mail app and clicked on one of the daily meditations that I subscribe to. I was surprised and pleased that the subject line was “The Secret of Surrender.” Once again, I found synchronicity in both meaning and timing. I lapped up the words and thought back to the word on my lips when I fell asleep last night. I read two more daily devotionals that also seemed to match up magically with the idea of surrender.

Surrender for me, just in the course of the journey between last night to this morning’s readings and reflections, means something new. For me, it is peace in the moment. For me, it is being comfortable with what is, even when it is not what I want. It is learning to realize the long path, but being in step with right now. It means letting myself go and not getting caught up in end results. It means sinking into the moment. Surrender is the ultimate measure of taking control by letting go of control. Surrender means being okay, even when things are not okay. Surrender is not wishing for something, but finding comfort in loss. I find surrender when I let go. It is not defeat, but neither is it a win. Surrender is finding grace. Surrender means letting go of people and situations and results. Surrender means not knowing. Surrender is finding love for myself. Surrender means giving up looking at everyone’s “papers” trying to find the answers, and instead looking down at my own work. Surrender means being in my own footsteps, literally and figuratively. Surrender means forgiveness. Surrender means right now.


  1. There is tranquility found in a few of your statements. “Surrender is finding grace…love for myself…being literally and figuratively in my own footsteps…and right now.” An excellent essay for this pristine autumn weather.

  2. Interesting thoughts! I’ve just read a book by Michael Singer about surrendering in this meaning – The Surrender Experiment.

      1. I must add that I have only read the first half of it so far. But it’s an amazing story about what can happen if you let go of your personal likes and dislikes and accept and play along with what life brings. Almost hard to believe, but still makes you wonder where you might have been if you’d done the same…

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