Monday, September 25th 2017

The gift of surrender

“I can feel the years of fears, abandonments and hungers. And then, I let it all go in acceptance.”

GUEST COLUMN: JULIA TUCHMAN — I have never been very good at surrendering. I have been the fighter — the hold-on-to-the-side-of-the-cliff, fight-for-your-life, never-give-up and “go down with the ship” kind of soul. It was exhausting work, and with no apparent end in sight.

Surrender is one of the most essential lessons I needed to learn, and I have been given a legion of opportunities to learn, grow, and finally accept the wisdom of surrender. But I am stubborn. The lessons for surrender kept coming into my life, but I continued fighting, resisting surrender at any cost.

Abandoned by God?

At 20, I was forced to leave college with mono. I had planned to return to my studies the next semester, healthy and strong. But the mono symptoms never seemed to leave, and I was bedridden. Like dominoes falling, the mono progressed to a viral syndrome and then Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
surrender2My immune system was compromised to such an extent that I developed Severe Environmental Illness, so sensitive and allergic to the modern world, that I was home-bound for much of a decade. When I would leave my environmentally safe house, I had to wear a specially filtered mask.

I fought and that kept me alive. I never gave up.
Due to some strange medical fluke, some sort of neurological damage from the virus, I was left for nine years unable to eat solid food. For those nine years I had to survive on liquefied food. I was brought to my knees, but I am thankful for my blender.

I lost a chance at college, career, children, weddings, parties  — and a nice plate of lasagna. I have had backs turned to me, betrayals, lost opportunities and a hunger I can’t even describe.

Twenty years had gone by. I was a Rip Van Winkle of sorts, but without the sleep. I was the Miss Haversham from Dickens’ Great Expectations, stuck in some deep time-warp. I cried out many times — across time — wondering if perhaps God had forgotten about me.

Sometimes surrender only comes when there’s no way out

A few weeks ago, on the way to a doctor visit, I walked on to the elevator on the 23rd floor of the building I live in.

The brass doors closed, and I pressed the lobby button. As I straightened my coat, the elevator began to shake wildly back and forth. My heart shook with it. The elevator then dropped a foot, rose again and dropped even more. In my mind I imagined the elevator hanging by a thread. It was going to fall 23 stories down. I had no control.

My hands reached out, frantically searching for the emergency button. I pressed every button I could, until I found it. I screamed for help. My voice echoed back to me in the small space, and I was surprised how much I sounded like a frightened child calling out. “Help! Please someone!” The elevator sunk and shook again.

A static-filled male voice came through the tiny intercom. “We see you. Don’t worry. You are okay. We are going to get you down!”

I was not alone.

“Please help me.” My voice sounded like a whimper now. If I did survive this elevator crisis, my heart felt as if it might not.

As the elevator continued to shake, I had no sense of where I was or what floor I was on. The doors opened on the fourth floor and I automatically fled. The voice came back over the intercom “No, stay on the elevator. I promise you are okay. We are going to get you down.”

I stepped back into the car. As the elevator doors closed before me, I questioned my decision. It could fall again. But, in a few seconds the doors opened in the lobby. I was safe.

Later, my partner Adam asked me why I had not just gotten off on the fourth floor and taken the other elevator — the “safe” elevator. “I don’t know,” I answered. It was a reasonable question. “I guess I just felt I had to trust.”

white-flag11Flowing with the currents

Now to the following Sunday: I am sitting on a bench at the end of my block facing the East River. I watch the murky brown water as it flows effortlessly between the concrete of Manhattan and the smokestacks on Roosevelt Island. I notice a beauty in the ripples and rhythmic movement as it glides.

It is polluted, yet it still flows. What man has done to this river has not stopped its graceful purpose. It continues on as buildings fall and rise again around it, it continues on its way. As I watch, I let go and feel myself flow along with the currents.

I can feel the years of trauma — the illness — the fears, abandonments, the hungers and desperation.  I let it all go in acceptance and I imagine it flowing down the murky river.

I can also see all the times I have not been there for myself and all the moments I have not shown myself compassion and love that I so deserve through all that I have been through. I have no control over what has happened or how others might have treated me, but I have often been my own worst enemy. I was often the one who forgot about me.

The grace of surrender

Later in the day, I read a piece in the New York Times about Jesus’ last words on the cross. It is Easter Sunday and the article is in the “Beliefs” section. christAt the end of the article the author writes of Alton Logan, a man who was wrongly sent to prison for 26 years. Another man had confessed to the crime, but that man’s lawyers chose to remain quiet until after their client died. They did not want to violate the attorney-client privilege.

They left Logan in prison for years even though they had the information that would have set him free.

Logan spoke about the anger and abandonment he felt and how he ultimately surrendered. ”We need to trust that although God may be testing us, he never abandons us. We need to do what Jesus did when he said with his dying breath “Father into your hands I commend my spirit.”

This man, who had many years of his life taken away when others could have saved him but did nothing, saved himself in surrendering. He saved his own spirit.

Once again, I am shown the graceful healing of surrender and trust.

“There comes a time when we must put everything back in God’s hands.” Logan added.

For me, that time is now. I have held on to it myself for far too long, and I am exhausted. I am still not giving up, but I am finally truly surrendering. It is the most loving act I have ever done for myself.

Julia Tuchman is a writer, Akashic Field Therapist, and spiritual counselor. She is currently surrendering in New York City.

(Child image by edenpictures; Surrender image by Alice Popcorn; Christ image by videoplacebo via Flickr, CC 2.0)

If this spoke to you, here are five similar articles.

Related Posts

6 Comments on “The gift of surrender”

  1. An uplifting and inspiration story! Thank you for sharing with us! Your story gave me pause to think about where I am not surrendering in my life and how sometimes it is actually better to free-fall and KNOW that God will catch you! :)

  2. Lovely article, Julia.

    “There comes a time when we must put everything back in God’s hands.”

    Nothing has ever left God's hands.... But when we play tug of war and try to take things away from God's hands, it's hard to feel that peace of God's Presence. Thanks for the reminder, Julia.

    This was beautiful.

  3. Julia,

    May you be powerfully blessed by sharing!
    Yes, we are always in God's hands.

  4. Julia,
    Thank you for the beautiful article. It is very touching and captivating.


  5. A very thought provoking article, Julia. Thanks for sharing. I have to admit my thoughts went with Adam - I'm not sure I would have gotten back on that elevator - or even the 'safe' elevator....I'd probably have opted for the stairs. My surrender would have come when I wanted to get back up to the 23rd floor, knowing full well I wouldn't have walked it.

    Interesting the difference between surrender and giving up. Surrender, I think is letting God and letting God, trusting that all is well. Giving up is letting go but not letting God - because the trust or the faith is not available at that time.

    I get the feeling that elevator ride was very empowering for you!

    With loving blessings,

  6. It's always moving to hear a story that comes from the gut, that speaks of true life experiences and true transformation. Obviously, this is about a process that's ongoing. But it's clear that the intuitions you've received have spoken to the destiny of your soul - which, of course, is still unfolding. Enjoy that part of the ride. You've earned it.

Leave a Reply