I love this painting, because it is one of the transformational points in the Millennial Mom story. Deep in her emotional underworld of despair and grief, she finds the key to change and resiliency. When most people think of surrender, they think of weakness, and failure. I think surrender is about strength, faith and maturity, and is critical to peace of mind.
Just let go. Let go of how you thought life should be, and embrace the life that is trying to work its way into your consciousness. – unknown, quote found in my journal
OUR CULTURE OF MAKING IT HAPPEN
I just love self-help culture, and the idea that I can have the life I’ve always wanted if only I do things better, be better. As such, I have a long history of trying to make things happen, through discipline and sheer will. Motivated by my fears of loss, of being judged as a failure, of poverty, of failing my children, I’ve been obsessed with trying this, trying that, doing, doing, doing, as well as demanding of those I love. I’ve been impatient, frustrated, always wanting things to be different, forcing, pushing, unwilling to let go and trust that things will be ok.
I know…fun gal.
MISFORTUNE, THE TEACHER
A strong faith in a higher power leads me to believe all misfortune occurs to teach, to wake me up to what I’m doing, and inspire me to learn, to evolve. The continuous frustration, the controlling negativity, and egotism (“I know what’s best, let me show you the way!”) I was bringing to my family led to crisis manifesting in our lives. As our troubles piled up, I came to see that possessing ironclad determination to make my ideals reality does not work, especially when my plans involve others’ thoughts, values and behavior. My relationships, as well as my health, my mood, and my energy, all suffered when I believed, “No, this is not ok, I don’t accept this, we cannot let this happen, we must keep trying to fix it, to do better.”
ACCEPTING WHAT IS
I see the “surrender” lesson everywhere – in art, literature, religion – and recently found it presented very well in the article, “Why Surrender,” by Aimee Falchuk, MPH, M.Ed, CCEP, right when I needed it most.
As Falchuk writes, I need to “get off the insufferable ride of forcing my way through life,” to release my determination that certain things will happen, and accept what IS, even if I don’t like it. Though always moving forward with my actions and attitude, I must accept my limitations, for I am human, and imperfect. My loved ones are imperfect. Some things may not be fixable, because some things don’t need fixing just because I think so. I can’t make everything better. And sometimes, something wonderful is trying to find its way into my life, but all of my egotistical control illusions are blocking it from happening.
I’m so good at taking action, but I need to continually practice letting go, asking questions of my higher power, then waiting for answers, embracing the uncertainty, and trusting I will receive answers.
I also need to work on tolerating the uncomfortable feelings – fear, shame, sadness, grief, despair – that arise when things don’t work out, and letting go of my need to avoid them, and control them. Because here’s the thing. As humans, we are going to suffer, somehow. No one escapes. The sooner we accept and stare down our personal pain, instead of running from it or trying to beat it back, the sooner we can move through the darkness and heal, with new awareness and understanding. It’s our pain, as well as our love, that shapes us, and adds the depth to our lives.
ON THE OTHER SIDE OF DARKNESS
Letting go of the way I thought things should be offered the most lovely consequence. The new space in my life filled with gratitude. No longer obsessing about trying to fulfill my checklist for the “best” life, I had the time and receptiveness to wonder at the beauty that was right in front of me. And it’s pretty damn good.
Even my troubles are a gift, an invitation to wake me up to what I’m bringing to the world – fear, pride, self-will, and a closed heart and mind. And they are also an opportunity to learn to trust again, to let go and let a higher power take over.
Surrender offers hope, and grace. It is never the end, but is an opportunity for a better life.
A WORD ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS
Relationships are where life happens, so I’d like to share something which I turn to for guidance.
Forcing our will on others will never bring us what we want most deeply. In Deepak Chopra’s book, “The Ultimate Happiness Prescription,” (don’t judge his content by this flip title, by the way — his gift is in presenting deeper thinking in very relatable language) he discusses how we are so fixated on our point of view, our control over our lives, our being right, that we are willing to sacrifice our happiness. He explains the secret in relationships is not to surrender your will to another person’s will, but to surrender to the path you share, or the space between the two of you. I know, difficult to grasp, but please read on.
When in conflict we may find answers by asking ourselves the following:
- Which choice is more loving?
- What will bring peace between us?
- How awake (conscious of my ego) am I?
- What kind of energy am I creating?
- Am I acting out of trust or distrust?
- Do I feel what my partner is feeling?
- Can I give without expecting anything in return?
As Chopra explains, the greater love, the universal love, which exists between the two of you will allow answers to fall into place. What we must do is practice allowing ourselves to be in a state of openness, open to possibility, in a state of surrender.
Hope that helps. It helps me.
After recently viewing my work, a friend marveled at how I have got it all together, all figured out. Let me be clear… I definitely do not.
I think life moves in circles. Sometimes I am in a state of surrender and peace. The next day, my ego will flare with a vengeance, I will run from my feelings, and it all begins again, the pain cycle. But each time I get better. Emerging from a particularly painful year, in humble acceptance I hold the suffering with tenderness and compassion, knowing for certain I will emerge from this more whole, wiser, and stronger.
Delusions of enlightenment are in no way present here. And no answers I offer are my own. I seek counsel from those wiser than myself, and am using Millennial Mom to share what I learn, and to attempt to grow empathy and compassion in our world.
LET’S TALK ABOUT YOU
Have you struggled with growing frustration in your life, and found surrender to be your salvation? Have you let go of how you thought life should be, to embrace the life that is trying to work its way into your consciousness? I’d love to hear your story in the comments.
P.S. THANK YOU
Millennial Mom’s launch in social media last week was a big deal for me, I felt incredibly vulnerable putting my work out there, knowing not everyone will understand, nor relate, so I want to thank all of you who did reach out. Holding a mirror to the underbelly of middle-class motherhood in our ego-infested culture is not a position I would wish for myself, but is one I feel called to, and admittedly is an attempt to slay my own dragons. Still…not easy. So thank you.
Why do they always teach us that it’s easy and evil to do what we want and that we need discipline to restrain ourselves? It’s the hardest thing in the world – to do what we want. And it takes the greatest kind of courage. I mean, what we really want. – Ayn Rand