People who know me well know that I tend to think a lot. About everything. Some might say it’s rooted in control issues (I have, and wrote a book about it), others may say it’s more about problem solving (which I love doing). Tell me you need help fixing something, and I come alive! Faucet, printer, phone, relationship… I’m all in!
During the great pause offered to us in 2020 I had the opportunity to step back and take a look at my life in a way I never had. It was a time to think about how I had been doing life and how I’d like be doing life moving forward.
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I’m grateful for the companionship of a great therapist throughout this time (I can’t speak highly enough of the value of having a professional to help uncover profound insights into how to live more authentically, working to untangle from unhealthy thought patterns. I look at my therapist like a coach.).
One of the biggest insights I received during this time was this:
Stop viewing life as a problem that needs to be solved.
What? How would this even be possible? For as long as I could remember my mindset had been that I needed to keep looking for ways to solve the problems that come up; Why am I still single? Why isn’t my music career going better? for starters. I was constantly trying to figure out which metaphorical puzzle pieces need to be moved around to make my life look like the picture on the box cover I’d always imagined.
To surrender this familiar paradigm felt a bit like dying. It was literally an assignment in letting go of control of life as I had known it.
I had been addicted to fighting a great, needless battle. And I was suddenly being offered the chance to step off the battlefield. How do you step out of the battle when your identity has been so wrapped up in being a fighter?
While it initially felt scary, I was soon met with an incredible release. Like I was finally coming to the surface, and could actually get oxygen in my lungs. This was a freedom to enjoy life. To experience life as it was, rather than being so focused on how it wasn’t.
This has been a season of unclenching my fists, an invitation to open-handed living. An acceptance of other people and all my circumstances just as they are. And I have to add myself to that list—an acceptance of me just the way I am. Wowza, what a beautiful gift I am continually choosing to extend to myself.
When I’m not trying to fix, control, manipulate, or scheme, I give myself the chance to be fully present. When I’m fully present I’m able to love others so much better, because I'm not focused on how they need to change, or how I need to get something from them to make my life better somehow.
Surrendering my expectations opens me up to all kinds of new possibilities surrounding me—things that I never would’ve noticed being solely focused on a specific outcome or experience. The beauty of life has become magnified.
To be honest, this isn’t just something that happened and now I’m all better. Surrender is a continual process. Letting go of expectations is something I need to do every day, reminding myself of the futility of the fight. It’s choice to let life breathe… to let myself breathe… to let other people be who they are… and fall into faith and trust that God is present in all of this. Trusting that I’m going to be okay… maybe even more than okay… no matter what happens.
Life is really beautiful. I’m grateful for these new days to really experience it, rather than fight against it.
“You must learn to let go. Release the stress. You were never in control anyway.”
―Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free
I’m singing in Rochester, MN April 21st, 22nd, and 23rd at Evangel United Methodist. I’ll be performing a few songs as a part of their annual outreach musical—raising money for the Salvation Army and their work to help eliminate food insecurity in the area. I hope you can make it — get more details and your tickets here!
Crazy Hope is a reader-supported publication. I want to keep all my content free, but if you’re able and want to support my work, please consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
Love this, Mark. I swear, just reading your words made me relax a little bit. Ahhhhh.... surrender!
It's so great that God lets us continue to learn, change and grow💕💕