Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these…. Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? For your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
When I was younger I wanted to be one of those lilies which I interpreted as being effortlessly beautiful and fulfilled. I wouldn’t have to put on makeup or go on a diet; I wouldn’t have to work for clothes or cars or houses. Anything I wanted would drop into my lap.
I am embarassed to say that these beliefs continued well into my adult years. I did go to work but I never got everything I wanted – even when I tried to quicken the manifestation process with affirmations and positive thinking. I wasted a lot of time by not emphasizing the rest of the parable – the part that said we had to seek God first and then, all these things would be given to us.
[Aside: let me interject here that what I am calling God or Father can also be named the Tao, the Source, Higher Consciousness, the Divine Mother, the Great Whatever, etc.]
Now, I was usually a spiritual person and believed in the power of prayer and all the rest of it – but where I always fell short was in the ‘trust’ category. Although the thought never quite breached the lid of my conscious mind what I was thinking down below was … “what if I put God first and still didn’t get what I wanted!” I would not only (1) not have the desired object because I had stopped working/praying for it but would also (2) not have ‘hope,’ that little thing with feathers as Dickenson describes it that I had figuratively kept in my pocket for tough spots I did not know how to manipulate.
I knew that God was notorious for taking the longer view and had already several times thwarted my heart’s desire. Could I throw myself on his wisdom/mercy/kindness and relinquish that much control of my life and my desires without risking what little I now had? Could I really rely on God to come through? Would He betray me? What a big thoughts for such a small and fearful mind.
[Aside: relinquish is a wonderful word whose Latin root means to leave behind or abandon. Could I abandon my fear and distrust? This root also gives us the word relic, one meaning of which is “an object or custom whose original environment has disappeared.” In my case the original environment was my belief that I could control my life and get what I wanted.)
How many of our prayers are said asking for money to pay the rent or buy a new car; or to be spared an illness or sorrow. It takes a lot of living and a lot of suffering to realize that all of these desires are really secondary.
The question that dominated my mind was – is it possible to be joyful and at peace – no matter what the circumstances? Can we have that peace and joy without trust? And when we trust, does it entrain all else that we need?
In the last few years I have had many opportunities to experiment with this kind of trust. In 2008 I developed a chronic and painful illness and over a few months nearly everything I valued was taken from me. I say taken and not relinquished for each finger had to be pried loose.
When my illness first developed I did affirmations, examined my unconscious assumptions, evaluated my mental health, tried all sorts of healing modalities and prayed as I had never prayed before. No matter what I did, I could not change the reality of my condition.
I finally came to the stunning realization that just because I wanted something very, very badly I couldn’t necessarily have it. I realized that I didn’t really have control of my life. I wasn’t calling the shots – and probably never had been. God was letting ‘bad things’ happen to me and I didn’t know why. Did I ‘deserve’ it or was there something else at work?
That was when I began to learn about surrender. Instead of praying, I started saying, “God’s will be done” and what I meant was that I was willing for Life to take whatever form or manifestation it wished within this consciousness. With that surrender came an unanticipated peace of mind and spirit. I stopped fighting life and started accepting it. While I still might be in physical pain I was no longer suffering in mind and spirit.
Then I learned that my older son had terminal cancer and for the next nine months I continued to learn in an even deeper way what surrender meant. My own illness had taught me the folly of asking ‘why’ something was happening and had prepared me for this exceptional loss.
I knew that there was nothing I could do on this physical plane to change the direction or destination of his journey. This freed me from the responsibility every parent carries to ‘protect’ the child. I could safely place him in the Father’s hands, knowing that all was exactly as it should be – without really knowing the why of it all.
Strangely enough after all of this struggle and sorrow, today I am happier and more at peace than I have been at any time in my life. I rarely worry about anything and I don’t think about the future very often. I live simply and am learning what it is to trust and surrender.
Whenever a fearful thought comes into my head I tell myself that “My Father knows what I need and He will take care of me.” And He has. Unexpected money arrives at the same time a special need arises. Opportunities turn up without my looking for them. There is something in each day that brings joy.
Surrender and all will be well. Throw all responsibility on God. Do not bear the burden….if one surrenders to God, there will be no cause for anxiety. Nothing will affect you….God never forsakes one who has surrendered.