Learning How to Surrender and Trust the Process
“Take your hands off the steering wheel.
Be able to say to the universe, ‘Thy will be done,’ . . .
and allow your life to go into the hands of the universe completely.”
-Gary Zukav, The Seat of the Soul
You could say I’m a bit of a control freak.
But that’s pretty standard fare for a mom and an entrepreneur, right?.
If I could, I’d carefully manage my kids’ schedules (including when and where they get sick—which is to say, never and nowhere), I’d perfectly predict the most successful Day Designer launches, and I’d puppeteer all of my relationships with successful precision.
But here’s the thing about control: we never actually have it. It’s never actually up to us; to me. I have a certain sense that it is, of course—there are certain action/consequence scenarios and patterns that have shown me time and again that if I do “x”, I’ll get “y”.
But the world, especially our individual worlds, doesn’t always follow a simple algebraic equation, right?
At the end of the day, I have no way of knowing for sure if I’ll be able to get work done while my kids are on spring break or if I’ll get that speaking gig or if the weather will be perfect on our long-awaited family vacation. The only thing I can control is me; the rest is up to the cosmos (or the God that created them, if you will).
So, why then do I continue to try so desperately to control? Why am I disappointed when things don’t turn out the way I want them to? Why am I surprised when I do “x” and I actually don’t get “y”?
These are all rhetorical questions, of course, but if I were to venture a guess, I’d say it’s because I’ve forgotten. I’ve forgotten that I’m not in control; that it’s not up to me. And I’ve forgotten that grasping desperately to maintain a control I never actually had only stresses me out . . . and makes me worried . . . and fosters disappointment.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t take the actions that are most likely to help us to succeed; the actions that are most likely to help us live happy and healthy lives. But at a certain point, we have to realize that we’re not in the driver’s seat.
We can show up as the people we want to be, proclaim what we want to pursue, and take the action that we think will get us there—and then we have to surrender.
Surrender and trust God’s process.
Surrender and trust that we might not get what we want.
Surrender and trust that what we get is much better for us anyway.
That’s not an invitation to live a passive life, of course. But surrendering can be easy (or much easier than the aforementioned desperate grasping), if we let it. Much like young kids, we often think we know best, even as we’re unable to see the whole picture. Honestly, when I truly think about it, there’s a bit of relief in letting go and letting God.
But I continue to struggle with it; to remind myself daily to surrender and trust. If you do too, here are three things that have helped me:
Often when I claim that I want something (a successful launch, a ticket to a fun conference, or a quiet night with my family, for instance)—it’s not the actual item or activity that I want; it’s the feeling it will bring me. So, in order to surrender to His process—and stay open to what’s best for me—I get clear on that feeling.
I want to feel happy or loved or protected or appreciated.
Of course, I’ll put in the work to get what I want, but I also surrender to His will and trust that it will show up for me exactly as it’s meant to (which might be different from what I’ve planned).
And when I’m finding it hard to give up control, I ask for help. Plain and simple.
By coming back to conversation with God, I’m reminded of how powerful He is; of how much bigger and better His plan is than mine.
In prayer, I share with God what it is I want—how I want to feel, who I want to be, what I want to accomplish—and I surrender it all to Him. (Over and over again, if I have to. Which is pretty much always.)
As much as I possibly can (it’s not always easy and I’m not always perfect at it), I remain grateful for what I have, even when it’s not what I asked for. I am grateful for the situations that feel hard, but are really important lessons. And I am grateful for the answered prayers.
Throughout it all, I want to convey to Him—and, perhaps more importantly, to myself—that I am thankful for it all, and trust that it is all for my highest good. Because it is.
And it is for you, too—this process, our lives, is for our highest good, even when things don’t go according to plan. Even when it’s not the process we might have picked. And when we can see everything through that lens, releasing any illusion of control and surrendering to Him suddenly seems the easiest and the best option after all.
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What do you need to release control of and surrender to God? Share your story with me in the comments! We can do this together.
Thank you so much for these amazing words. I needed to hear this.
I have been working for a company for over 5 years. I keep feeling the push to pursue new things. It’s very scary to trust and let go. To know that my God truly holds my next steps in his hands. I have had the desire to open a coffe shop for a few years now and have taken very small baby steps in that direction in different seasons of life. I am working on my resume and seeking a new Job. I am considering applying to a few loved local coffee shops here to get immersed in the culture. Thank you again for this encouragement !
I would love to hear any advice you may have on the situation.
God always knows what we need, when we need it. I really needed this article. I’ve been battling with controlling the outcomes of my dating life. As of result I come across as pushy and inpatient. I spoil all the fun of getting to know and enjoy potential suitors. At the end of the day I really want to be truly loved, just like you stated. Moving forward I will trust that God knows best and the Universe is moving me towards my ultimate destiny.
All it takes is a brush with great loss to know that we are not in control of much of anything. Maybe the planning of our day and trying to live mindfully. And that’s about it. I am still a planner, but no longer a control freak.