I have surrendered more times than the most well-loved army of tiny plastic men in the hands of the most gregarious 6 year-old backyard general. Again and again I have lain down, acknowledged my lack of control, leaned into the support of a loving Universe, let go what I thought I needed. Again and again. And now, once more.
I harbor no illusion that this surrender, or any that follows, will be my last. One simply forgets. The way a mother looks at her child and recalls only the joy of holding him for the first time, and not the agony of the dozens of hours of labor that came before. There is such relief in surrender, such a sweet release, that it's easy to turn your mind away from how it feels to be unsurrendered. The struggle seeps back in slowly, building over weeks and months, growing undetected at first. When, at last, you notice the feelings of unease, of hardship, of disconnection, the first thought is rarely "oopsies, I've retreated from my surrender." At least that's not where my brain goes.
Because the surrender has been withdrawn as stealthily as the struggle has resumed. Naturally, as these are the inverse expressions of the same truth. As you slowly resume trying to have control, attempting to understand what's not yet ready for your comprehension (or what you are as of yet unprepared to comprehend), as you allow your Ego to reassert its separateness, surrender recedes and struggle rushes in to fill the space.
You fight against this feeling of tribulation, against what seems unfair and simultaneously unavoidable. Why me, cries Ego. I was doing so well. And now, THIS. The fight seems necessary, your uncomfortable action the only way forward. Bound by the invisible chains of your own creation, you see climbing the mountain under the weight of so much iron as the only way to reach the top. You sigh deeply and trudge a few more steps. Perhaps you even silently celebrate your strength. Look at me, you say. Life has put this heavy burden on my shoulders, yet still I soldier on.
In these moments it rarely occurs to you (or at least to me) that life has not placed this weighty burden upon you. Life did not even place it in your path, for you to inadvertently stumble over, accidentally pick up and carry forward. Life is still moving as life does, along the path of least resistance. The resistance along the path comes from within you, from your human nature with its illusions of the glory of struggle, the righteousness of grit, the necessity of climbing the mountain under one's own power alone.
With each step you take burdened by your chains, surrender moves farther away and struggle snuggles closer. This onerous ballet continues, one quaking, clanking step at time, until you realize the truth of what's been happening all along. You've slipped from surrender, willingly left the arms that would hold you, carry you without effort to the mountaintop. The chains you carry are forged of your own Ego, created in the dark fire of your humanity. You are the metalsmith, the iron, the forge. And you are the only one who can release yourself from this burden. And so you surrender, once more.
And here I am, doing just that. Again. I am currently deepening the alignment in my business. It's a fun and fascinating, but thoroughly unprofitable, process, at least for the moment. My finances feel more uncomfortable than they have in nearly 20 years. I told myself that I was moving through this time with faith, trusting in the process. But I lied.
Instead, I have fallen back into old patterns. Thinking and working too much, because those are reliable ways to avoid feeling. Using my mindset skills not as a paintbrush, to gently direct the unfolding of my life's panorama, but as a hammer, to smash anything I don't want to see in my picture. While I told myself I was waiting with open hands, resting quietly in my faith in a Creator wiser and more far-seeing than me, I was, in fact, forging my chains. Taking more and more control into my own hands, turning farther inward, stoking the fire and adding to my burden.
My struggle kept growing, looming ever larger. My denial kept pace, a steady refusal to actually be present in my experience, a driving ache to be free of the place where I was, a clawing need to control what I claimed I'd relinquished control over. I was much too busy avoiding my full truth and exercising my Ego to spend the usual time in meditation. I was rarely still and silent, open and curious. Through an odd bit of spiritual physics, keeping one's nose to the grindstone tends to plug one's ears. My frantic escape from surrender kept me from the one thing I truly needed at this crossroads. Not control, or even escape. I needed guidance from the Light. And to receive that, I needed to be quiet and listen.
But I am not without awareness, even when I am without surrender. I have been here before. I know precisely what my red flags look like, how it feels in my body and spirit to be misaligned. I did forge some links in my chain, allowing struggle some space in a world where it is now often absent for long stretches of time. And then I remembered my truth. I remembered that I am supported, seen, and sentient, that I can ask for what I need and will be given an answer. That I can take aligned action, even when I don't understand where it is taking me. So I did.
I stopped my madness and got quiet. I reconnected with the habits that center and ground me. And I asked, why is this so hard? Where is the money? What am I supposed to be learning from not being able to pay my bills at the age of 48?? I was immediately given an image of myself, which brought to my mind the word "humbled." I was lying face down, knees bent and shins on the ground, forehead bowed. Directly following this scene, I felt the sensation of my wings being bound (you can read about my wings in The Road to Om). I felt angry, confused. My wings were given to me as a symbol of trust, a reminder that I can jump from any height and Source will catch me. My wings are my faith. Why would my faith be taken from me?
The feelings of unfairness I'd been suppressing for weeks rose up in a rage. I sobbed. I don't understand, I cried out. Why would you do this to me? What can I learn with my faith tied down? Are you taking everything from me now? Is that the lesson?? What in the Cajun spiced hell am I supposed to learn from that shit?!
In the moment, I was too distraught to hear the answers to those questions. I slept, with dreams I cannot recall. And in the morning I went to the kitchen to find the dollar bill from my vision board, on which I had written my goal for monthly earnings, laying on the counter. That bill had stayed in place for months, and now here it was, fallen. My income goal was facedown.
Though I may have been in the weeds alongside the road to surrender, I was not so deep in the woods that I was blinded to a sign this clear. However, recognizing a sign is one thing; interpreting it is another happening all together. Back to the silence I went, back into my meditative space, back to the place inside of myself that is connected to All That Is, the source of all things (including questions and answers). I reenter this space with two answers that only raise more questions: my wings are bound, and my monetary goals have literally been knocked down from their place in my plans. What am I to understand from this?
As always, when I ask and can be quiet and listen, I receive an answer: Your wings were to help you learn to trust Us, and yourself, They said. Now you need to learn a new level of trust. Now you need to learn to trust other humans.
Wait, I trust other humans. Don't I? I trust my family. I trust my friends. I ask my partner for help. I trust my relationship with my daughter, with the women in my professional community. If anything, I am over-trusting, giving people the benefit of the doubt long after their benefit card has expired.
Not that kind of trust, They told me. You have to trust them to take care of you. You have to learn to stop pretending you are an island who trusts the other islands, counting on them to show you the same sunny shores across miles of insulating ocean. You need to depend on other people, not just on yourself and your relationship with Spirit.
That kind of trust. Yeah, about that. See, here's the thing...I don't want to. If you depend on other people to take care of you, sometimes you don't get taken care of. It's really better if I just take care of myself. You can see that, right? I mean, let's just be real here. Depending on other people has had some nasty consequences for me. When I swore I'd never do it again, it was for my own good. I'll be needing to hold on to control here. Just here, mind you. I'm surrendered all over the place. See? I'm surrendered here, and here, and over there! Look over there! There's so much surrender over there.
Wait...are you guys listening?! I don't want to learn this lesson!
So, you want the struggle?
No! I want to surrender where I want and keep the control where I want, too.
Oh, so you want to set BHAG goals, but you don't want to do the BHA spiritual work to align with them?
Well, when you put it that way...
So here I am, white flag in hand. Surrendering, again. Or working on it, anyway. I haven't found the sweet spot yet. Everything feels hard, scary, overwhelming. Dare I say distasteful? Which tells me beyond a doubt that I am not fully re-surrendered. Not yet.
But I am making my way there. I have asked for help. Far more help than I feel comfortable taking. I am watching myself in judgement of my need for this assistance. I look on as Ego flogs my spirit, taunting and torturing me with dark fairy tales of a Queen with no court, a woman I supposedly could be, who reigns alone with no need for other royalty at her side. I know Ego believes its tales, and that I must disavow my belief in them before I can rise again.
I am carefully holding space for large, unpleasant emotions. I have returned to a regular meditation practice, and even more than this I practice patience. I remember that this is the journey my soul chose. Disembodied, on the spiritual plane, there is no need for surrender. There is nothing to surrender to, as a soul is part and parcel of its Source, an inseparable part of an energetic whole. The human experience is to confuse this inextricable bond, to draw an imaginary line around the self and say "I am separate." I am me, and me is...not that other stuff.
This is the role of the human Ego, to create and defend this me-ness. And it is this creation, this illusion of aloneness, that generates suffering, which in turn requires surrender. To surrender is to release the idea that you are alone, separate, a being adrift in a world that is distinct from and disinterested in you. It is to return home, to what you have always been, and to allow your human journey to unfold with a little more divinity than you were able to grasp before your most recent lesson.
Surrender is to accept that you are not a sole creator, but a co-creator, to recognize that you don't have a relationship with God, you are God. Your soul is the energy of the Universe, encapsulated in a form that is designed to forget, to doubt, to rage against this fact. To ease the doubt, to quiet the rage, to end the suffering, requires us to come back to this fact, to shutter the Ego and expand the soul in the face of each lesson in humanity. To continue our growth we must do this again. And again. And once more.