Practical ways to practice surrender when our drive for control is strong.
Surrender is often the path to peace, and unfortunately, our fears and worries keep us tied up in anxiety and perceived control. Letting go—especially in areas that are so dear to us—involves spiritual stretching and emotional release, therefore it’s normal for it to feel extremely challenging.
God is our good shepherd, so faithful to provide for our every need. He wants to help us! So often we get in the way of His healing by holding on to what we cannot fix. We toil toward solutions that we cannot solve. We worry about outcomes that may never come.
However, peace in every circumstance starts first with a decision to step into the freedom of surrender. Instead of being afraid of surrender, we can reframe surrender as God’s invitation to more peace, joy, and abundant life.
Surrender is an acknowledgment of our finite abilities and of God’s infinite power. Surrender says “this is where my responsibility to fix something stops and where God’s responsibility begins.” Surrender is a recognition of His divinity and an opportunity to practice trust as we release the unknown to His care.
One of the greatest lessons that God has had to teach me over and over is that relinquishing control is not telling God that I no longer care about a situation. Instead, it’s saying that I care so much that I am (finally) choosing to invite Him in and let Him hold me through the uncomfortableness of not knowing the outcome.
So why is surrender so hard (read more on that here), especially if we truly trust God? Let’s talk about specific questions to ask and actions to take in order to make surrender easier.
2 Questions to Help in Surrender
We don’t have to be mad at ourselves if surrender feels difficult. Surrender often goes directly against our brains’ natural desire to self-protect! God made every part of us (including how our minds work), so He understands this frustration and has compassion for our desire to “fix” our lives.
However, I’ve found that asking ourselves two questions can make it easier to manage our emotions and expectations through the surrender process:
What am I responsible for?
What am I not responsible for?
Let’s examine the differences between the two.
We are responsible for several things:
First, we’re responsible for ourselves: our thoughts, emotions, actions, and behaviors from the past, present, and future (Genesis 4:7, 2 Corinthians 10:5).
Second, we are responsible for the influence we have over the people in our care, such as our children or those we lead in business or ministry (Matthew 18:6).
Third, we are responsible for what we do with the skills, knowledge, and talents we’re given (Matthew 25:14–30).
At the same time, we are NOT responsible for:
- The outcome of situations that are outside of our control.
- Other people’s actions, including what they decide to do with the knowledge we share (Galatians 6:4-5).
- How God decides to manage a situation’s outcome (Daniel 2:20-22).
Once we’ve determined what we are and are not responsible for, we can take two different actions.
First, we can confess and take ownership before God for our part in the matter. We can look at how we may have contributed to the situation and what we may need to do to fix things, including asking for forgiveness, receiving healing from God, and letting go of shame.
Second, we can acknowledge and grieve what’s out of our control. This can be an especially painful aspect of surrender as we often have to trust God and stop holding on to our need to fix things.
3 Other Action Steps to Help in Surrender
1. Keep pursuing God in prayer about the surrendered situation.
It’s possible to let go of responsibility for the outcome while still maintaining ongoing conversations with God about how to manage our emotions as we wait for Him to act. Even though we’ve surrendered it doesn’t mean that there isn’t pain and grief in the waiting. Share that with Him and let any frustrations come to the surface so He can compassionately help you manage any painful emotions around the surrender.
2. Consider developing a simple statement to redirect worry-filled thoughts.
Even after we’ve surrendered, it’s natural for our thoughts to move to worry (especially if we’ve used anxious thoughts in the past to manage stressful situations). When this happens, find a simple statement you can repeat to yourself in the moment to help you step out of the worry cycle, such as “Yes, that is concerning, but I’ve already surrendered it to God. He’s aware of it and He’s working on it, so I can let go of it.”
3. Stay connected to the vine to receive His encouragement and direction.
Be like the tree in Psalm 1 (read more on that here) that plants itself by the river. Stay in a position to receive from God by doing your part: Bible reading, honest prayer, meditating on scripture, surrounding yourself with mature believers who will speak truth, and perhaps processing with God in a journal. The tree cannot make the water flow; however, it decides to plant itself by the water’s source (and to stay there) so that God can bring the life-giving water’s flow.
Surrender Begins With Feeling Safe with God
Feeling safe in our relationship with God is an essential part of surrender and a huge reason why we must pay loving attention to any doubts or disillusionment we have about Him.
We walk through the surrender process in much more extensive detail in the Christian Mindset Makeover and offer several helpful exercises (including a surrender board) in order to help Christian women find freedom in surrender. Learn more about the Christian Mindset Makeover here or get a free mindset training that shares how to use brain science and the Bible to let go of toxic mindset patterns like perfectionism, people pleasing, and feeling “never enough” that can make surrender especially difficult.
As we learn more about how to surrender and what true surrender means as a believer, God is so gracious to help us rest in the gifts of quiet confidence and expectant hope. Today, I encourage you to take the first steps toward the joy of godly surrender!
Alicia Michelle is a speaker, author, certified NeuroCoach and host of the award-winning Christian Mindset Coach Podcast which can be heard on KHCB’s Uplifted Radio Stream or anywhere you listen to podcasts. Through her coaching, courses and Bible studies, she loves equipping Christian women with practical brain-and-biblically-based tools to overcome anxiety, perfectionism and self-sabotage so that they can cultivate godly confidence and find lasting peace. Get her free training on how to transform your life by transforming your thoughts at VibrantChristianLiving.com/mindset.