“If you surrender completely to the moments as they pass, you live more richly those moments.” -Anne Morrow Lindbergh
The practice of surrender is one that is often misunderstood. Most of us think of it as a loss of power or face. In wartime, surrender is the greatest humiliation associated with defeat. Even in our personal relationships, our defensive position and unwillingness to be seen in a weaker position often makes days hard and relationships challenging.
Twenty years of parenting has taught me a few things about surrender. Raising children is nothing if not a lesson in choosing the battles that really matter. The more kids you have, the easier it is to give up your position on things that you once thought were important. The older they get, the fewer issues there really are that are worth the fight. Some parents experience this letting go as being defeated. Others understand it as path to allowing people to be who they are.
It is a tricky line, this surrender place. Giving up our own agenda takes practice. But the longer I practice it and allow it to shape my responses to not just my children but my life and my business, the more that I come to see that many of things that I fight for were never really in my control to begin with. This is perhaps the biggest piece of wisdom that children give you over time. They are yours for a second, maybe not even that long. Except it is easy to think they are yours for all that you give up of yourself to love them. Kahlil Gibran said it best in his meditation on Children : “They come through you but are not of you.”
For me the hardest place to practice surrender is still in my sense of time. Even after all these years, I still somehow expect for things to happen within a time frame that I have the power to set. While the best laid plans and goal-oriented deadlines have the power to propel us forward, they can also serve to frustrate and demoralize when life determines the timeline, which is more often than not different from my own.
Pushing life to fit into our own time dictates takes a lot of muscle. I have worked it this way for many years. It is exhausting. About as exhausting as trying to make my children be who I think they should be. This is where the real wisdom of surrender begins — of letting things be as they are and people be who they are. It is such a relief to the back and relieves so much emotional angst. You would think it would be my preferred mode of operations given that I fully understand that life’s rhythm has a purpose to it’s timing.
Still the practice is the same, of witnessing my own ideas of how time will go, and then giving in to how it actually does. As I have been pursuing this positivity quest, I have realized that the sooner I surrender and go with things as they unfold, the better my chances of staying positive. This is why William Booth’s statement “The greatness of a mans power is the measure of his surrender” brings me to day 60 of the quest.