Surrender & Trust

 A river surrenders to its flow trusting it will reach the ocean. Rio Grande River, New Mexico, 2017

A river surrenders to its flow trusting it will reach the ocean. Rio Grande River, New Mexico, 2017

Surrender. Trust. Two words loaded with meaning that based on personal experience can trigger the gamut from deep resistance to relief. In the ebb and flow of my own life I have been able to surrender and trust less often with grace than with a dirty stare and a “I don’t think so…I’ve got this covered” stance.

I wish I could offer “four easy steps” to surrendering and trusting. (And yes, they do seem to be close dance partners.) There is a vast array of readings from many wise ones (including ancient and sacred texts and modern teachers Pema Chondron, Mark Nepo, Thich Nat Hanh, David Whyte, Rachel Naomi Remen to name just a few.) I’ve ponder, meditated, done journaling, prayed and listened to wisdom on this topic as I’ve tried to discern what this looks like in my own life.

I don’t have a handout or list to offer but I can share what I have discovered on my journey:

  • “Who” I am surrendering to and putting my trust in has evolved as I have grown older. I find as I go through different life transitions, crises and invitations, my concept of the Holy in my life has also grown. When I was in my early adult years if I am being honest, I surrendered to my ego and trusted I could figure things out, even though I would have told you I was “handing things over to God.” So figuring out “who” or “what” to surrender to and trust has been helpful. At times I have made collages to discern this sense of the Divine presence—images of strength, comfort, gentleness, resilience, etc. For me having a visual representation helped during times of contemplation. As you consider surrender and trust, what helps you visualize or connect to who or what you are surrendering to?
  • Noticing when I am “resisting” surrendering, even when I feel comfortable with my image of the Divine. That tells me I need to take a deeper dive into what I am holding on to and why it is so important for me to be in control. It often stems from an old issue as far back as childhood that is being triggered by a current event. This is when having a trusted friend, spiritual director and/or therapist who is able to listen deeply is invaluable to move the boulder out of the way. Who are those persons for you?
  • Not being afraid to recognize when I fall back into old patterns. This is what usually happens: unsettling events in my life lead to reevaluation, then to spiritual reawakening, then to re-connection to my Higher Power. Shake up in life…repeat. Each time though, I have an opportunity to practice surrender and trust, letting go a smidgen more. Then complacency lulls me back to sleep. I’m beginning to think complacency and contentment are opposites. Have you fallen back into old patterns? Where are you being complacent in your life?
  • Practicing surrender and trust and allowing experience to guide me going forward. It has been said that only when you open your closed fist can you accept what is available and waiting. Waiting is hard. The urge to be invested in my own outcomes after I place my requests to the Universe can be excruciating. But the more I practice letting go, the more my life is unfolding in ways I could not have foreseen and are far more delicious. What is even a small thing you could turn over today and trust in the outcome?
 Walking a labyrinth can be one way to practice surrender and trust in a tactile way. Private labyrinth in NW Portland, July 2017.

Walking a labyrinth can be one way to practice surrender and trust in a tactile way. Private labyrinth in NW Portland, July 2017.

I am in a deeper place of surrender and trust than I ever have been before and feel content. This doesn’t mean I expect life to be easy, without suffering or challenge. And writing this post reminded me to not be complacent. The dance of surrender and trust has different rhythms and patterns depending on what I am facing in life. The well of experience is full now and I will have plenty of refreshment to draw on when I need reminding. For today I am trusting it will be available.

Surrender. Trust. How are those words resonating with you today?  If you are interested in exploring this more deeply in your life and are considering spiritual direction, please check http://nurtureyourjourney.net/spiritual-direction-spiritual-companion to set up an introductory hour long session.

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 Labyrinth set up in preparation for March 2017 Journey Through Loss workshop.

Labyrinth set up in preparation for March 2017 Journey Through Loss workshop.