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If you surrender to the wind you can ride it. – Toni Morrison
Always say ‘yes’ to the present moment… Surrender to what is. Say ‘yes’ to life—and see how life starts suddenly to start working for you rather than against you. – Eckhart Tolle
Learn the alchemy True Human Beings know: the moment you accept what troubles you’ve been given, the door opens. – Rumi
The station of absolute self-surrender transcendeth, and will ever remain exalted above, every other station. – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 346.
My daughter, having trouble letting go of a situation in her life, asked me to write about surrender.
Surrender involves an acceptance of what is, rather than struggling against the tide. It means going with the flow of life and embracing it on its own terms. Surrender puts you in harmony with the universe and frees you of the false idea that you are in control. Surrender requires being open to where life takes you beyond limited expectations and outcomes. Surrender releases your will to the greater will of God.
Once years ago when my mother was still living, she flew up to see me for a visit. We had planned the perfect day of lunch and shopping. Because of my auto-immune condition, this would be a rare treat for me. When the day arrived, I awakened but my body would not cooperate. I was used to this, but I had so looked forward to our time out together. I felt my body had betrayed me again, and I was heartbroken. I remember sitting together with my mom on my bed knowing I could barely walk around the house, much less through the mall.
Sitting on my bed, full of despair, I used the last little bit of energy I had left and slapped my hands down on the bed and screamed, “No!” like a child throwing a tantrum. Not the best idea, my tantrum just used up more precious energy! My mother looked lovingly at me and said, “It’s okay honey. We are together and that’s what matters.” Against my will I tried to half-heartedly accept the situation. Actually, I didn’t have to try hard at all, because what happened from there turned out better than any excursion I could have planned.
From that point on, even though the game plan had changed, the day got better and better. With much luxurious time the two of us spent precious hours connecting, reminiscing and laughing. We indulged in decadent treats. By chance we watched the perfect movie about a single mother (which I was at the time) finding her voice, strength and purpose. Though my body was weak it was no longer an issue, because I felt empowered and hopeful. I could never have imaged such a rich outcome at the beginning. There was nothing I could have hoped for that would have been better than that amazing afternoon. We both remembered this day as one of the most precious times we had ever spent together. Of course, God knew what was best for me all along:
O Son of Spirit! Ask not of Me that which We desire not for thee, then be content with what We have ordained for thy sake, for this is that which profiteth thee, if therewith thou dost content thyself. – Baha’u’llah, The Hidden Words, p. 8.
A few mornings ago when I woke up, I knew immediately that my body wasn’t doing well—again. My heart welled up with frustration and sadness. I tried to will it away and fight it head on. Then I remembered that day with my mother many years ago.
Now aware of my negative energy, I consciously let it go. In so doing I freed up the energy being sapped by stressful thoughts, self-recrimination and inner frustration. I knew I had to accept the present, rather than wait until I felt well again sometime in the future.
With that new outlook, my attitude changed from resisting what I didn’t want, to being open to what possibilities lay before me despite my physical condition. That shift in perspective gave me hope to face the day with grateful eyes. I wasn’t able to magically get up and do everything I wanted, but my inner condition and energy had changed. I decided that whatever God’s will was for me for on that day I would be content with. I had surrendered my own will, and in the process found peace.
At all times and situations in life, I have found this short excerpt from a Baha’i prayer instrumental in my own surrender:
I implore Thee, O my Lord, by Thy name the splendors of which have encompassed the earth and the heavens, to enable me so to surrender my will to what Thou hast decreed in Thy Tablets, that I may cease to discover within me any desire except what Thou didst desire through the power of Thy sovereignty, and any will save what Thou didst destine for me by Thy will. – Baha’u’llah, Prayers and Meditations, p. 241.
As the years come and go, I still often find myself in situations I want to escape, as we all do. At the time, I think I know what is best for me and what will make me happy, but no matter my limited capacity to see, in the end, surrender to God’s will always creates the best imaginable outcome:
He doeth as He doeth, and what recourse have we? He carrieth out His Will, He ordaineth what He pleaseth. Then better for thee to bow down thy head in submission, and put thy trust in the All-Merciful Lord. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 320.