Sometimes I just want life to be a little easier. And I get that same sense from a lot of people I encounter online or in real life.
I wrote about the human quest to have things go the way we think they should in this essay comparing us to the Israelites wandering the desert - read it here!
We can spend our lives constantly trying to find the answers to our problems—to do life as perfectly as possible, trying to find ways to avoid future pain and suffering. It makes sense. But I wonder if we might be missing out on some of the best parts of life.
Like the student who approached his teacher asking, “Can you fix my grade in this class so I can pass?” The question caught her off guard. “Yes, I can do that,” surprising the student with her answer. His demeanor became more positive, “You can?” The teacher explained that while she could do that, she wouldn’t. He asked her why. She said it was because if she fixed everything for him like that, he would never learn anything.
Striving For A+ Living
Our lives, too, can be a continual quest to get the good grade at the expense of what we have the opportunity to learn. Just give me what I want, don’t bother with the life-enriching training program, many of us say. We think that will bring us joy. But life’s most challenging circumstances present us with an opportunity to learn—to discover what kind of person we can become.
Sometimes it feels easier to complain and be miserable, than look for the good that might be hiding just behind the darks clouds that surround us. Let’s stop choosing miserable.
The woe-is-me victim-mentality doesn’t look good on anybody. We might feel empowered by blaming other people and even God, but we are missing an incredible opportunity to grow. Surrendering our expectations of how everything should go can lead us down the path of peace and joy that we’ve been craving. But we’ve got to learn how to let go.
What is something that you would like to let go of?
I’ve lived most of my life trying to solve the problem of my self-perceived lack of success, particularly with my music. I would be thinking day and night about what’s the next thing I should be doing in order to make my career look the way I thought it should look. I thought I needed to be and was in control. I was trapped in the self-imposed prison of comparison. My life never looked like the life of those “successful” people I was surrounded by in Nashville.
Learning to give up the reins of false-control will feel like death—a letting-go of everything we thought we were supposed to do and be in order to be the free people we have wanted to be all along.
This is what the pandemic afforded me. I suddenly lost the opportunity to keep striving. And the relief I got was so phenomenal I can’t imagine going back to the way I was living.
The term “surrender” brings up imagery of a battle where the side that is losing raises the white flag and accepts defeat. Surrendering says, “I’m tired of fighting. I don’t want to die this way.” Surrendering takes us out of the battle and leads us to freedom.
It is less about giving up and retreating, and more about choosing to see the more beautiful options right in front of you. When we are patient with the process, perhaps more patient than we would like to be, we are able to see how there are valuable things happening inside us even when they might not be happening on the outside.
I’m a huge fan of the popular prayer written by American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr. The beginning part might sound familiar, but the second half is where it gets really good, and can give us a great framework to explore further:
God, give us grace to accept with
Serenity the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.
Isn’t that awesome? I want to get the whole prayer tattooed on the inside of my eyelids so I can read it over and over while I sleep. I see this prayer as a white flag of surrender, helping us to:
• Let go of all we think we need to control
• Accept life as it is by trusting that God is in control
• Catch a grand vision for how good life can be.
More to come on this next week! Thanks for being with me on this journey. Please share these essays with a friend who you think might benefit. And as always, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section!
The Hope Coach is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
Here’s a link to listen to my song “Rest In You” on YouTube — all my other songs and albums are there, as well. I hope you enjoy it.
Thank you Mark, I really needed this message today!
A benefit of aging....it's much easier to surrender! I can see more clearly the beauty of God's plan for my life.💕