“Until your knees finally hit the floor you’re just playing at life, and on some level you’re scared because you know you’re just playing. The moment of surrender is not when life is over. It’s when it begins.” Marianne Williamson in her book, A Return To Love
For a long time, I joked about being a control freak when it came to relationships, especially with my husband and children. Humor was a coverup. I was terrified to let them go, afraid of what may happen even when I couldn’t pinpoint a problem.
I lectured my kids about grades and college and jobs. Called them when I saw a speed trap. Left articles for them to read. Asked too many questions about friends, nosied in their rooms, and eavesdropped on phone calls. Even for a control freak, the latter was over the top.
If my husband had an early morning meeting, I made sure he was up. I reminded him about appointments. I kept up with his spending and his eating and his hygiene.
The illusion of control made me feel safer. It convinced me I could make things happen, fix things, and bring about positive outcomes, which is true sometimes … just not the way I wanted it to be true.
I wanted to make things happen for them, fix things for them, and bring about positive outcomes in their lives. I didn’t think much about getting my own life.
My friend Betty reminded me, “Love means being who you are and letting them be who they are.” I agreed and said, “You’re right. I can’t control them and love them at the same time.” Still, I hung on like my life depended on how their lives turned out.
A friend suggested maybe I wasn’t able to let go because of my fear, which seemed like just another impossible thing to surrender. Ironically, most of my fear was the result of not surrendering my relationships.
After exhausting myself, as well as exhausting every possibility except surrender, I asked God to help me let go… my way.
I prayed dozens of prayers that he’d minimize my relationships – make them less important.
I prayed he would replace people with a distraction like work or a calling unrelated to them. After all, I had friends living out their purposes by painting, planting community gardens, and rescuing animals – very little to do with people. I wanted the same.
The first time I watched Elsa in the Disney movie “Frozen,” I thought about how often I wanted to run away from people like she had run because, in comparison to surrender, running looked easy.
I prayed it’d be okay to leave my family if holding onto them became too painful and if letting go seemed too hard.
So, what’d I hear from God after all this negotiating? Write about relationships.
I was back to surrender.
I didn’t know what else to do, so I wrote. I blogged about disappointments and arguments, not wanting to have a granddaughter, my messy marriage, and more. I’m not sure how or when it happened, but I traded control for surrender in my writing and then in my relationships.
I teared up while singing the line in “O Holy Night” that tells us to fall on our knees and hear the angels.
I cried at Disney on Ice Frozen while watching my four-year-old granddaughter sing along with Elsa to the song “Let It Go,” in part because being there with her was so special; in part because I’m letting go of her like I’m letting go of everyone.
I bawled telling my husband I never wanted to run his life in the first place, but how scary it was to stop.
So much is different this Christmas, and better. I’ve said for years, “He’s better,” “She’s better,” “The family’s better.” This season, I’m better. Surrender gave me permission to give my people to God and get my own life.
Gordan B. Hinckley says it well, “Get on your knees and ask for the blessings of the Lord; then stand on your feet and do what you are asked to do.”
What relationships in your life need surrendering? Fall on your knees, then get back up.
In This Together,
Thank you for the inspiration, Dr. Jeannie Killian, and for the images, Pixabay.