You see, there are two kinds of losses in life. The first is shared by all mankind—the losses that come to us. Call them what you will—accidents, fate, acts of God. The point is that we have no control over them. The second kind is known only to the pilgrim. They are losses that we choose. A chosen loss is different from repentance, when we give up something that was never ours to have. With a chosen loss, we place on the altar something very dear to us, something innocent, whose only danger is in its goodness, that we might come to love it too much. It is the act of consecration, where little by little or all at once, we give over our lives to the only One who can truly keep them.
Spiritual surrender is not resignation. It is not choosing to care no longer. Nor is it Eastern mysticism, an attempt to get beyond the suffering of this life by going completely numb. As my dear friend Jan describes, “It is surrender with desire, or in desire.” Desire is still present, felt, welcomed even. But the will to secure is made subject to the divine will in an act of abandoned trust.
True surrender is not an easy out, calling it quits early in the game. This kind of surrender comes only after the night of wrestling. It comes only after we open our hearts to care deeply. Then we choose to surrender, or give over, our deepest desires to God. And with them we give over our hearts, our deepest selves. The freedom and beauty and rest that follow are among the greatest of all surprises.
Your only assignment is to be strong in faith, no matter what your weaknesses. “When I am weak,” says Paul, “then am I strong.” Strength is made perfect in weakness. So your weakness will turn out to be your strength if you accept it humbly.
Let me tell you what real surrender is. It is simply resting in the love of God, as a little baby rests in its mother’s arms. A perfect surrender must even be willing to quit surrendering, if that is what God wants! We renounce ourselves, and yet, God never lets us know when it is complete. If we knew, it would no longer be complete, for there is nothing that bolsters the ego quite so much as knowing that it is fully surrendered!
Surrender consists, not in doing great, heroic deeds about which the self can brag, but simply in accepting whatever God sends, and not seeking to change it (unless it is His will for it to be changed). Full surrender is full peace. If we are restless and concerned about things formerly renounced, we have not genuinely surrendered. Surrender is the source of true peace; if we aren’t at peace, it is because our surrender is not complete.