From the October Newsletter
I always thought that surrendering or letting go meant giving up something; that a part of me would be missing if I gave up something or that a part of my personality would be gone. How could I still be me if I didn’t have my passion or my righteous anger? Isn’t the very definition of surrender to give up control, to stop resisting, to admit that one is not going to succeed? As a feminist haven’t I fought for so many years to gain control? To be the Captain of my own fate? To fight the good fight?
In the course of growing up and experiencing many disappointments and some failures, I learned that letting go wasn’t altogether a defeat or punishment. I learned that when I surrendered to a situation or let go of what I felt was control over something, that I wasn’t failing. I was more in a position to ask for help. There are times where I want to do it all myself, that for whatever reason I need to show people that I can or I need to prove to myself that I can, and the idea of asking for help can almost feel like a failure. What I discovered was that asking for help became a solution, became a victory, added some needed peace to my life. It also was a reward in gaining friendships and closer relationships. I’ve always been told that people really want to help; that they feel good helping and that asking for help was actually a gift to others. I had not thought of it that way previously, but I do know that when others ask me for help and I can help them, I feel good about that.
Isn’t it human nature really, to want to help? Is surrendering then a way to help our fellow humans be more human?
I had a friend once who was really good at accounting. I was tasked with working on a committee at one of my past churches and needed to create a spreadsheet. I had limited experience at this point in my life with Excel and was really struggling in creating this sheet. I spent a week on it, going through tutorials, making mistakes and redoing macros, simply just having a horrible time of it. When our committee met the next week and I presented what I had generated, we discovered that some key points of information that we needed were missing. I felt so frustrated that I had put all this time in and it still wasn’t giving us what we needed. My friend looked at it, immediately saw what was missing and made some very valid suggestions on how to improve it. We proceeded through the meeting and made a lot of progress that day in terms of moving forward. Afterwards we were walking out and I thanked her profusely for her help, explained all the work I had done on it and the time I had spent, and she just turned to me and said, “Why didn’t you just ask me for help?” I honestly told her the thought had never occurred to me. I had it in my head that I needed to do this, all by myself, with only my resources. I had never thought to ask. And I could see some disappointment in her eyes that I hadn’t thought to ask her.
How much community are we losing with one another by not asking for help? How much closer could our relationships be with one another to share a task or a project and then revel in the success of it together? I have a favorite quote that follows my signature on my email from Thomas Merton, who was an American Catholic monk, that states, “ We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone – we find it with another.” Surrendering can be a link to community, can be a strengthening of relationships and not a failure or a disappointment. Surrendering and letting go can be a victory.