Storytime! I’ve been trying to write this post for probably two months. I have learned how to surrender to God and let go (not saying it’s easy or that I can truly let go for good every time I try), but putting into words how to consciously do it when you feel like you might have other choices has turned out to be pretty challenging. “I can handle this!” says the ego.
With some of the career decisions I’ve been struggling with, I kept thinking I was surrendering. I even went out of my way to tell people I’d surrendered. I even told God something along the lines of, “Okay, I’m surrendering. Tell me what to do now so I can go do it and get this show on the road.”
In reality, I was still trying to control too much. Thinking too hard. Trying to see too far into the future and control/resist the situation instead of obeying what I felt like I was hearing. Finally, finally, something got through to me in a video I was watching online the other day (totally didn’t see it coming). I knew I had to check my ego, surrender, and just see where things go from here.
When I Learned How to Surrender to God and Let Go
When I was 19, I learned (for the first time) how to surrender to God and let go. Or at least I experienced what it felt like. Ever since then, whenever something too big for my little human mind to comprehend, deal with, or fix has come up, I’ve revisited that experience and at least tried to recreate it. I won’t say that it’s easier to surrender now as much as it’s just familiar. I recognize the comfort that I get and settle in, waiting to see where He’ll put me next.
I Felt Like I’d Lost Everything
In case you’re curious, here’s the gist of the story. Feel free to skip ahead if you don’t care:
- It was the day after Christmas and I was supposed to work at a restaurant. I’d worked extra hours off the clock (stupid mistake, but what choice did I have at the time?) to help with holiday party after holiday party, at all different locations around town. I didn’t know what to expect when I got there–would it be busy with post-Christmas gatherings, or dead enough to chat with the pianist while drinking overly-sweetened vanilla cappuccinos out of a machine like they have in gas stations? What was actually there wasn’t even on my radar. A note on the door that said they’d closed down.
- No warning. No reason that I or any of the other employees knew of. All that money from working at those parties? Poof–because there was no proof I’d been there. A missing $600.00+ is a big deal to a college student without much of a safety net.
- My fiance (a guy I’d been with for almost five years) and I had broken up and I still had rent to pay–on my own–because I stayed in the apartment we’d shared.
- I only had a little bit of money saved in a bag in my closet. It was mostly money to buy fast food when a craving hit. Nothing substantial.
- My oven broke (and I could’ve gotten discounted food from the restaurant, go figure…). And let me just say: I stress-ate so much raw cookie dough during that time. Either all the warnings about consuming those things hadn’t come out yet or I was mostly oblivious.
- I didn’t have real friends to reach out to because I had spent all my time working, in class, doing homework, or with my ex. I didn’t know where to go for any hope of a job. I didn’t want to ask my parents for money; they had their own bills. I either had to get a job that would pay my bills or drop out of college (I did NOT want to go for that option because education was the most important thing to me).
- I’d been to the unemployment office, which was no help. I’m pretty sure the guy I talked to was drinking at work. Lol
God Was Like the Quintessential Stay-at-Home Parent
I prided myself on being a strong, resourceful person who’d get things handled no matter what life threw at me. But I felt alone and out of options. It might’ve been the first time ever. I had to be backed into a corner to learn how to surrender to God and let go.
I remember standing in the doorway of my bedroom when I got home after the job thing. It felt like I collapsed, in slow motion, to the floor. I don’t even know if I said actual words out loud or in my mind, but I know I just handed it all over to God because there wasn’t much else I could do at that point.
As soon as I admitted to God that I couldn’t do it on my own and basically needed a miracle, I felt comforted. As if someone had come up behind me and wrapped me in the warmest hug, complete with a fleece blanket. Want to know what happens when you learn how to surrender to God and let go? That. Protection. Security. Warmth.
It was like being a child and running to a parent after getting your feelings hurt by some older kid who called you Frog Face for looking at him and wishing you, too, could ride the bus and carry a backpack. Yeah, that actually happened when I was three or four years old. God didn’t ask me why I didn’t turn around and call the kid Lizard Butt, though. 😉 Lol It was like He’d been waiting for me there in that doorway, with (baked) chocolate chip cookies. I guess He had.
I settled into that feeling for a moment and then got back up, sure that everything would work out somehow. I just had to keep my eyes open and keep trying. I didn’t know how, exactly, things were going to work out, but they were. The how was no longer my problem. My desperation and fear had been replaced by faith. I just had to be open to opportunities and take the next step when I saw it.
I Wasn’t Crazy About the Next Step
Once Christmas break was over and school started back, I picked up a university newspaper, as I often did. There was an ad for a sales job. Now, most of y’all don’t know me in person, but I was the absolute last person anyone would probably think of for a sales position. And it was for cell phones. I hated cell phones. (Showing my age now, right?)
But I needed a job more than I needed to hold on to my opinions of cell phones and sales, and that was the only ad that really stood out to me at all. It felt “meant to be” even though it was sooo not anything I would’ve pursued on my own. I had a “Really, God?!?! This?? Ugh, okay, if you say so” moment before I dialed the number.
The guy I talked to called me in for an interview either that day or the next and I went as my “best self.” Best Self Crystal can be pretty charming when she’s highly motivated to tell the layer of shyness to hit the road because she’s got things to do and bills to pay. I fell in love with “her” during the time I worked at that store.
I got the job on the spot. I was the manager within two weeks, which meant I could create the schedule and I got bonus commission off of other people’s sales. I talked them into switching from commission-only to an hourly/commission combo so my employees and I would have more stability.
That was God, once I just gave up and let him guide me.
I Gained So Much from the Leap
That job gave me the opportunity to realize just how much I like talking to people. It gave me friends. I met my future husband there for the first time because I was working when he got back to town (we could only email for about 6 months after we met online).
The location was perfect. It showed me the beauty in random acts of kindness, like when the old man brought me a Coke from the restaurant across from my store for no particular reason. It taught me to go above and beyond for customers and employees because I had the power to do so.
It taught me how to negotiate and showed me I could do things that terrified me and wind up somewhere better, that fear should never dictate your life. I hated to leave that place and all its memories and lessons.
There have been other situations where it felt like I was losing something in the process of gaining something so much bigger and better than what I had. I just had to remember how to surrender to God and let go of the need to control the situation. That last story was pretty long, so I’ll spare you the others. At least for now. The outcome is always the same, though.
How to Let Go and Let God
That “Let go and let God” phrase gets tossed around a lot, but it seems to me that it’s easier said than done.
Want to know how to surrender to God and let go? Take a minute. Allow yourself to crumble for a few. It’s okay. You’ll come back from it whole. When you feel helpless, realize that you are not, not really. You just can’t do everything alone.
Remember that you can’t even comprehend the things God wants to bless you with. You’re a human. You can’t be expected to know or achieve it all without a helping hand. Promise yourself you’ll be ready to do the things that sound crazy to you when you feel nudges from something greater than you.
Here’s the best road map I can give you when you want to learn how to surrender to God and let go:
- Realize you’re human and you don’t have all the control, no matter how awesome and capable you are.
- Take a moment. Sit with that. Maybe you’ve had to fall so far down that there’s nothing else you could possibly do to make it better. Maybe you’re just lost, frustrated, confused, or disappointed but technically could keep chugging along the way you’re going. You just want/need a change.
- Admit that you don’t have to have all the answers, all the time. You can have God’s help. He created you; He wants to help you. But you have to trust Him.
- Take a deep breath.
- Pray. Let Him know you’re giving it to Him and you’re willing to be led to the solution. Realize that it may seem like a miracle when that solution shows up, or it may seem like something you feel like you should do even though it sounds crazy (like that sales job for shy little cell-phone-hating me).
- Let. It. Go. Seriously, stop dwelling. Stop letting your mind race, stop trying to solve it all yourself. That doesn’t mean to never try anything (you have to be willing to do the work you’re called to do), but don’t be so frantic about it to the point that you’re trying to force things.
- Look for pockets of quiet in your life so you can learn to listen to your intuition. What are you getting nudges to go try? Do you feel open and hopeful (even if a little nervous) when you think about those things? Or does your whole body tense up?
- Keep your eyes open for opportunities. When you consider them, how does it feel? Listen to your intuition. Could that be God leading you to your next step, that better place you wouldn’t have found on your own? You’ll know. You may not always want to accept the answer, but you’ll know.
- One more thing: Do you struggle with seeing opportunities and certain good things as being “for other people”? Me too. It used to be my default state. Stop. Those good things are for you, too.
Do you have a story of surrender? Share it in the comments.