I am a very organised person who believes in processes, rigorous execution of plans and meeting envisaged deadlines. These are extremely essential things that we need to factor into all our endeavours. However, in pursuit of these attributes, in a very subtle manner I became a control freak and somewhat of a perfectionist. In the early stages of my professional life, I was driven by an obsessive desire to succeed which in many respects engendered undue pressure on me. These perceived successes started to become a matter of routine yet left me quite hollow and even widened the distance between me and others. We all have a desire to be in control because control gives us a sense of certainty. As I moved on in life, I discovered that certainty is an illusion.There are quite a lot of things in life that we simply do not have control over.
If truth be told, I am sure my friend that at some stage of your life you also got sucked into this vicious cycle. What was the key that delivered me from the above set of circumstances? I had to embrace the principle of surrender. The word surrender has initially been a big struggle for me and I am in a continuous process of maturing in this regard. It brought me to the realisation that I do not always have to be in charge of something, know all the causative factors about everything that’s happening in my life, always need to come out tops or go extraordinary lengths to do something in order to be accepted and appreciated. Living a surrendered life was an extremely liberating experience because instead of always hitting cul de sacs, I started to see possibilities. Letting go of something should not be seen as a weakness but rather viewed as an innate strength where you do not allow yourself to be consumed by any set of circumstances. Surrender is an unmeasurable and transcending power that can ever happen in one’s life.
WHAT IF…. ?
For many years in my life and I am sure in your life as well, there has always been this niggling question – what if? It hits you unannounced yet very profound. What if I lose my job and is not in a position to afford the current lifestyle my family is enjoying now, the results of the biopsy I have done last week turns out to be cancer, my spouse gets hooked up with someone else and my marriage lands on the rocks, the business venture in which I invested so heavily becomes insolvent, my teenage daughter whom I brought up so well gets entangled in an abusive relationship…..? These are uncomfortable questions that can rob us of our peace, dampen our passion for life and leave us insecure. These are things over which we have most of the times absolutely no control and our only recourse is by embracing the spirit of surrender. It is not a passive denialism of the current reality but having an open and responsive attitude to new possibilities.
In 1934 Reinhard Niebuhr wrote the following very powerful piece that became known as the Serenity Prayer:
“God, give me grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed. Courage to change the things which should be changed and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other. Living one day at a time and enjoying one moment at a time. Accepting hardships as a pathway to peace…. Trusting that You will make all things right, if I surrender to Your will. So that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with You forever in the next. Amen.”
BEYOND OUR FEARS
Fear is the greatest impediment to a surrendered life. It’s about learning to recognise and acknowledge the hurt, pain or discomfort. Secondly, to spend some time with it but not brooding over it indefinitely and lastly to let go of it. Allow me to share some of my recent fears that I had to surrender:
- Acceptance by people. This week is the 136th blog of PRISM that I am publishing. When I started off, I was always consumed about people’s response and forever checked my mail for comments and likes; trying very hard to “make something“ out of my efforts. I have now reached a stage of total surrender on what to communicate and left the results to God. It is so heartening to bump into people or get calls or correspondence from some even outside the country, commenting on how their lives have been touched by PRISM.
- The salvation of some of my family members. There are some of my relatives that do not have any relationship with God, which bothers me quite a lot. Though me and Liz are upholding our close relatives in prayer on a daily basis, in certain instances it sometimes appear as if things are deteriorating in their lives. There are however some of them that increasingly moved back to the Lord and registering commendable progress in their lives. It is always so encouraging to see the fruits of me surrendering this situation to God.
- My inability to respond adequately to all the suffering, poverty and hardships in my immediate environment. I am by nature a very compassionate person but at times I feel so hopeless and constrained in the midst of all the pain and suffering I am confronted with. I was so encouraged the other day when I read a quote of Mother Theresa “ If you cannot feed a hundred people then feed at least one.” You will never be able to solve all the problems in the world. Start where you are with what you’ve got.
Living a life of surrender means that I can wholeheartedly trust God for my marriage, children, finances, the future of our country, my health and well – being, wisdom to excel in my leadership assignments; just about every facet of my life. The life experiences of Paul is quite instructive. Here is a man who went through imprisonment, severe beatings, shipwrecked, persecution and all manner of calamities. Yet he could write in Romans 8 : 28 ( Message ) “ That’s why we can be sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.”
May I ask you to please reflect very seriously on this statement: the area in my life I most need to surrender is…….
Let it go!