You might be thinking this would be the easiest step of all for someone like myself who already believes in God. But even with a working belief in God, turning one's will over or even acknowledging the need to do so, presents a formidable challenge. While it can be difficult and deflating to admit we have a problem, and overwhelming to consider that we too can be restored to sanity, actually turning our will and lives over to God is an entirely different beast. Let go of my control? Are you kidding? I only get this little box to control and I. am. not. letting. it. go! Thankyouverymuch!
Even those of us who already believe in a Power Greater than Ourselves have a hard time truly surrendering. Might I offer for your remembering those law-abiding Pharisees of the "I got this" character, thinking they had made themselves righteous by being so incredibly not like those sinners all around them.....God really digs that attitude...oh wait, no, He doesn't.
Read spiritual stuff, my shelves are overflowing with the deep and sacred
Pray a lot (while not aloud for all to hear, certainly more continually than not)
Try to be a good person, doing the right thing even when it's tough
Continually seek truth
Teach our kids about God and living within God's will
Attempt to be a good steward of the many blessings in my life
Marvel at the beauty in the world and in people
Strive to be a good "helpmate"
Donate to charity
Participate in church, worship, fellowship
Try to show love to all God's children, etc., etc., etc.
And here's also me:
Get short with my family
Complain inwardly and silently about the tediousness of the
Throw mercy out the window (probably the same one the two-year old left open AFTER CRAWLING OUT OF IT!)
Consciously do a less than generous thing because another mom a Target looked at me with ridicule and expectation (long story, one that ends with our house having a Pass the Pigs game and her house going without....)
Demand my own way more than I ought
Don't give the benefit of the doubt to those closest to me
Hold on to things I don't need, material things other people could find great value in or emotional things that would be better left behind
Assign blame, point fingers, fail to notice my own flaws and wrongdoings
Scornfully note the impatience of the young driver rudely tailing the elderly gentleman driving in front of him and only moments later find myself irritated with the "incompetent" driver in front of me
Buy a cart full of sugary Easter treats, five pounds of granulated sugar and a bag of powered sugar two weeks before I know we are eliminating sugar from our diets, etc., etc., etc.
Um, inconsistent? To say the least! And notice, neither of those lists included the word surrender or anything close to turning my will over to anyone but myself. There is no conscious effort to rely on God anymore than I have to. My prayers are more about thanksgiving than surrender, more about other people's needs than my own, more about patting God on the back for His awesomeness (and, ahem, for mine) than allowing Him access to transform me from the inside out. After all, I got this and I'm so grateful I'm not one of those people who actually need to claim total dependence on something Greater than Themselves. That's for vulnerable, broken people....not me....
But wait, God, as I understand Him, told the self-righteous that he didn't come to save the righteous, that a doctor doesn't come to heal the healthy but the sick, and then he proceeded to surround himself with people who had obvious flaws and deficits and he tried his hardest to point out to the righteous that their need was even greater, that their hearts were in the wrong place. And where God is concerned, heart placement is apparently pretty darn important.
The German writer Goethe said, "Things which matter most should never be at the mercy of things which matter least."
Much of my life has been just that: allowing the things that have little importance outweigh that which is most important; letting the illusion of self-suffiency blind me from the greater choice: a reliance on and true surrender to a Power Greater than Myself. And if God is all I think God is, He will be a far better caretaker of me than I have been! For me, this step is about a daily decision, about consciously letting go of the living I have been doing at the foot of an empty cross where I play the guessing game all by myself, struggling to figure it out on my own and instead embracing the new life that Easter truly offers, the one that we are called to live out, that offers hope and a future and life everlasting. The cross was important but we must not get stuck there.
And so, within this surrender, my Inner Pack-Rat loses it's centralized position in our house as the fruits of the spirit begin to chip away at the fruits of our labor and I begin to understand that spiritual fruits should never be at the mercy of material fruits, that God's role in my life should never be at the mercy of anything, especially not my self.
As the old hymn goes:
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.