Religion aside, there is great power in surrender.
I’ve started something new in my life. I’ve been praying.
I was taught to pray growing up. I said the Our Father every night before bed but for the most part, until recently, I haven’t had many conversations with God. That is, unless I got into a really tight spot. In those times, I would be on my knees in a prayer that would go something like this, “Help me! Help me! Help me! Help me! Help me!”
In those times I would plead, even beg God to hear me and intercede in whatever it was that I felt unable to deal with in my life. But I only did this when I was desperate; I only talked to God after all of my attempts at controlling a situation had failed.
I only addressed God in this way when I was at a complete loss for what else to do.
In those moments of desperation, I would repeat this phrase “Help me” over and over until I sensed a shift, until something told me that the prayer had been heard. I can’t say for sure but I have a pretty good idea that in those moments, God did not suddenly shift away from someone else’s channel on some big prayer radio station in the sky to tune into mine.
More than likely, the shift was within me, when my prayer went from my begging or even a demanding something of God to one of surrender and humility.
I don’t know if any of you have ever faced such a moment or moments in your own life. Maybe you have and you know exactly what I mean. Maybe you haven’t and this all sounds a little too “religious” for your taste. No matter the case, I share it with you because through this experience I have learned two things that have made a huge difference in my life:
1. There is great power in surrender.
2. I don’t have to be desperate in order to turn my will over to God’s.
As I write those words they sound funny coming from me; a couple of weeks ago, if this article were written by someone else I would have stopped reading it about two paragraphs back. You see I am not a religious person. I don’t go to church. I don’t believe in any one specific tradition and even have aversions to some in particular.
Religion aside, I have found a new kind of peace and happiness in my life in being open and willing to accept that whatever is happening is part of God’s or the universe’s plan for me.
I might not currently understand it, but I don’t have to; when I allow “God’s will to be done,” as that old bed time prayer says, the obsessive loop in my mind that is constantly trying to figure things out slows down. When I feel that obsessive loop start I can now catch myself and say, “I’m not in charge of this” and it becomes easier to let it go (yes, and let God).
What that allows me to do is to live my life exactly how it is. It allows me to appreciate the feel of the unseasonably warm air when I step onto my front porch. I am filled with the excitement that is radiating off my son as he chatters about a moment of joy. I listen to my body and notice when it is hungry and when it is not, when it needs sleep or when it needs to run.
I can sense when it is time for me to meet up with and connect with friends or when it is time to nest on my couch with a book.
So now, I pray. I pray just as I wake up in the morning as the seedlings of the first obsession that threatens to take over my peace begin to germinate. In those early moments of awakening, I ask God to help, to show me the way, send me a sign.
Here is the kicker: those prayers are always answered—and I mean quickly. I don’t have to wait more than a couple of hours and the answer is there.
I hear it in a song on the radio or in a passing comment by a stranger in the grocery store or something that I’ve read.
The point is, when I am willing to be relieved of whatever pains me and when I am open for my prayer to be answered, it invariably is.
So now, I don’t just pray in the morning; I pray all day long. I ask for guidance, listen, and through some moment of contact…I am told what to do. What I see is that over the days of practicing prayer, I have begun to develop that thing called faith. That trust in God and the universe to provide exactly what I need when I need it.
That doesn’t mean life is always easy or that I always understand why things happen the way they do. But I can trust it and I can allow the release to happen as it needs to, so I can stay grounded and connected, to myself and that miracle space in my life called the divine.
At the end of the day, I have a special ritual. I pick up my pen and journal and I write down all of the things for which I am grateful. Within a few minutes I have filled a page. On that list are silly things like my duvet and Christmas lights, people I love like my mom, dad and children, and my fellowship of friends.
On that list are also the challenges and people that I was grappling with (in my mind anyway) at the start of the day because they have shown me a part of myself and provided me with a space into which to grow.
They say that everything turns out all right in the end, and if things aren’t all right, then it isn’t the end. In that space of prayer and surrender, everything is always all right no matter what is, because it is exactly as it is supposed to be for the moment; and in surrendering to the moment a new place of peace is delivered.
Can I get an Amen?
What in your life has been moved and transformed through the power of prayer?
Cristin Whiting, Psy.D., owns a private psychotherapy practice in Winston-Salem, North Carolina and teaches at Wake Forest University. Cristin is also the founder of The Power Pages website (www.ThePowerPages.net). When she is not creating evolution on the planet, Cristin can be found making homemade lemonade or camping out in a back yard tent with her two children and their dog.
Editor: Jennifer Townsend