Last night I learned a lesson that has eluded me until now: I was working on surrendering to the Lord some anger about some disappointments in an upcoming trip. I intentionally surrendered this situation to God, but then I was feeling anxious because I still felt the disappointment, which only increased my anxiety. I finally realized that there is a time period between any surrender and the full release of the feelings or situations, that if I didn’t complicate the surrender with anxiety, I could just relax into the feelings, this time of disappointment, and eventually God would transform them.
Usually I surrender some situation, then in my anxiety take it back from Christ, then try to surrender again, only to rock back and forth between surrendering and the feelings, getting more and more anxious because I have not been able to totally surrender it to the Lord. Eventually I am able, out of sheer weariness from the struggle, to let it go, but it’s not a pretty process.
Last night I was able to surrender the situation, and relax even with the feelings hanging around. Soon I was asleep, having released the whole thing without the accompanying struggle. The complicating factor is judging where I fall short, in this case of surrender, and then feeling anxious because I lack the wherewithal to do it. Without going into that scenario, I was able to just allow the feelings to exist until they naturally evaporated. I only had to believe that I had surrendered from the first minute I did it. All the rest was a concoction of my mind creating a situation in which I had failed. None of it was true, but my mind adopted that belief in spite of evidence to the contrary, because that is a habit I must have formed years ago. It fits right in with its corollary: that whatever is going on will not work out for me. It’s amazing how these beliefs formed and then become concretized in my mind. I’ve been trying to exorcise these beliefs for years without success, but I think that is the wrong approach.
I now see that how I think about something is irrelevant, it’s how I react to a situation that is important. As in the above example, if I just relax, the resolution comes easily; if I tense up and get anxious because of those old beliefs, then I have to struggle and struggle to get where I want to be. I had hoped for years that those old beliefs would fade, but I can testify that they don’t go away. If you don’t give them any power, their hold over you will be gradually weaken.
I’m talking here about love which the Lord offers us at every turn in the Bible, but Love is such a difficult thing to take into our beings, to feel loved, to be love, there are such prohibitions about receiving it largely from our childhoods that we don’t feel we deserve it, and as soon as we do feel it, we move away, all because of the way we think about ourselves. The Dutch Catholic priest and author, Henri Nouwen, wrote of this intention of God that we feel loved in his book, “Life of the Beloved:” “All I want to say to you is ‘You are the Beloved,’ and all I hope is that you can hear these words as spoken to you with all the tenderness and force that love can hold. My only desire is to make these words reverberate in every corner of your being…’You are the Beloved’…becoming the Beloved means letting the truth of our Belovedness become infleshed in everything we think, say or do.”
How different that love is from the craving for love that drives most of us, what we grasp at as a substitute for love, be it addictive substances, or anything else we do to tame the unlovable beast within—shopping, putting others down or elevating ourselves, trying to be perfect or making everyone around us perfect, etc.—all done, we think, in the name of love. Instead, just turn towards God and all He wants to offer you is love, untainted by anything. The great cost of accepting His love is to surrender everything to Him, let Him be in charge of your life, let Him love you and then others through you. The price consists of giving up your unhappiness with yourself. The reward is tremendous: peace, love, tranquility, patience, and a life filled with meaning. The price is little, the reward great.