Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Put Your Hands Above Your Head

I hate surrender.

I loathe submission.

To me, these words are synonymous. To accept one, you must accept the other. Frankly, I am not too fond of that idea. There is no way that I’m going to accept surrender if that means I have to accept submission.

My mother called me “stubborn” and “obstinate” as a child. She was kind not to call me “pig-headed.” I am surprised that she did not. Once I decided upon something, I stuck to it be it right or be it wrong.

Some people describe my obstinacy as tenacity. Somehow that is supposed to make the entire idea better. Tenacity is a nice way to dress up my ornery characteristics. I don’t mind being cantankerous. However, it frustrated others that I never permitted anyone to care for me. To me, that was weakness and surrender. While others learned community, I willfully held onto the lonely picture of the little engine that could. Never would I give up.

In my head, I associated surrender and submission to women who were abused. Submissive women were cowed. Surrendered men would allow the world to walk all over them. They had no strength - no backbone. Surrender meant leaving myself open to hurt.

Surrender is a difficult thought for me because I do not trust that surrender is good. I do not trust that people won’t take advantage of me. I do not trust the motivation of others to care for me for no reason except that they desire to do so. When I open myself to surrender, I risk allowing people to see me in my most weakened state and to reject it. Rejection is worse than surrender in my mind.

A couple months ago, I was chatting with a friend. He told me, “You don’t trust.” This took me by surprise because although I know that I don’t trust well, I didn’t expect a guy to be able to see that so quickly. That conversation stimulated a lot of thinking on my part. I came to the conclusion that I didn’t even trust God. In word, it was easy. In action, I chose to depend on myself. As long as I was capable of caring for myself, there was no need to trust God.

I did not trust God. I did not trust friends. I might have trusted my family because they had already proved themselves to be worthy of trust, but only so much.
This brought into my life a pursuit of trust. I was determined to learn trust. Appalled at my inability to trust God, I began to seek to trust.

No wonder I hated surrender, I loathed it because I did not trust God to be good or want the best for me. Surrender is a serious thing. I grew up in the church. People use the word surrender all the time, but rarely do they mean it or put action behind their words. It was disgusting to me to see this type of insincerity. I vowed to myself that I would not use that word unless I meant it. After living with myself for twenty years, I know that I cannot fully surrender to anything. As soon as I surrender one thing, something else jumps up. Therefore, I was unwilling to give surrender a chance because I didn’t trust myself or God.

During the summer, I picked up a book called Absolute Surrender by Andrew Murray. It took me about three months to read through a book that I would have normally finished reading in 3 days. Murray wrote that it was that one thing that keeps a person from absolute surrender. At first, I didn’t understand. I munched on the statement with the questions swirling about in my head “what one thing? What does he mean? What is that one thing?”

Suddenly, I knew what Murray meant. Absolute surrender meant continually surrendering these things as they popped up. It was a “one step at a time” statement.

Here I believed that I had to absolutely surrender once and for all. However, I knew that I would fail because I knew that I didn’t know how to surrender everything. Surrender is a minute by minute process. It requires a re-focusing on God. My un-surrendered moments are when I forget that Jesus is the focus of my life.

I still fail at surrendering. I still fail at trusting God. Yet, I am learning.

Surrender is bittersweet.