Excerpted from The Quest
“Take my yoke upon you ... and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” —Matthew 11:29-30
Karen was only fourteen when her mother died. Less than a year later her father met and married Jean.
Right from the start, the stepmother-stepdaughter relationship was a disaster. As hard as Jean tried, her efforts were fruitless. Karen was overtly hostile to her stepmother and took every opportunity to sabotage the marriage. She belittled Jean at home and in public. She screamed at her for inconsequential matters. She “accidentally” broke some of Jean's most treasured possessions. No matter how Jean tried to make things better, they only got worse. In one year's time, Karen's behavior was so bad that Jean was ready to leave the marriage.
At the end of her rope, Jean sought spiritual counseling. She was told the obvious: she was powerless over Karen and would have to surrender the situation to God. For some reason these words impressed her. On an intuitive level, she knew they were true and completely let go of the situation. At that moment of surrender, she experienced “a transcendent happiness.” These are her own words:
“After I made the decision to let go, I immediately felt such a tremendous release. I had finally surrendered the problem that was consuming my whole life, and I felt a transcendent happiness. I didn’t know what was going to happen with Karen or Bob or this whole mess. All I knew was that I was going to be okay.”
“Karen came home a few hours later and must have been puzzled by how happy I was. But it didn't stop her from starting in right where we had left off that morning. She yelled and cursed me for going into her bedroom to get her sheets. She was enraged. But, for the first time, I was able to see the hurt little girl in her. She reminded me of a wounded animal. Her world had fallen apart. Her mother had died just a few years before, and she had been forced to share her daddy with someone else. For the first time, I understood her pain.
“I suddenly felt such love for her that I was compelled to hug her. So I did. She stiffened up but it didn’t matter. I couldn’t let go of her. She began sobbing quietly, trying to cover it up, but then the dam broke. She grabbed onto me and cried and cried and cried. We both did. When she stopped, we sat and talked for five solid hours. We even missed dinner. When Bob came home, we sent him out to eat. (He sensed something important was happening so he didn't mind.)
“Now Karen and I are both working hard at building a very special relationship. Oh, we still have our moments, but there is an underlying love and respect with none of that bitterness and resentment from before. We're not quite mother and daughter, but we're so much more than just friends. In my wildest imagination, I never could have envisioned this.
“I’ll be eternally grateful for finding out about surrendering and turning over problems to God. Things worked out better than I could ever have hoped. And with such miraculous ease! I still have to pinch myself to prove this is not just a beautiful dream."
God Is Always Ready
Through the simple act of surrender, Jean's life turned from nightmare to “beautiful dream.” All she had to do was allow God to work things out. God is always ready, but Jean herself had been in the way. All of her efforts had sunk her deeper into the problem.
Only when she turned the problem over to God was Jean's happiness possible. When she turned it over to God, she stopped trying to change things. Rather than acting from her human self (which would have continued to react to Karen's anger), she rose above the situation. Acting from her Christ center, she naturally treated Karen with love.
Although Karen, Jean, and Bob are not their real names, these are real people. If you are unfamiliar with the act of surrendering and the life-transforming power it holds, their story may sound impossible. If you do understand the miracle-working power of surrender, you probably have a similar story to tell.
Surrender Is Not Quitting
Letting go doesn’t mean giving up. Surrendering is not quitting. … As soon as you know your can’t start your car, you admit helplessness. However, that's only the beginning of the solution. If you want to get your car going again, you call a mechanic, and when the mechanic comes, you cooperate to the extent that you can. You haven’t quit. In this case, quitting would mean getting another ride or walking to work or sitting in your house and pouting! Instead of quitting, you have merely given a “higher power” (one who knows more about the problem than you do) control of the situation. There is a vast difference between surrendering and quitting.
Most people think of surrender as “bad.” Patrick Henry challenged, “Give me liberty or give me death!” An American general asserted, “No surrender, no retreat.” Surrender has traditionally been looked upon as an admission of weakness—of giving up, buckling under, capitulating.
Contrary to popular belief, surrender can be a positive decision, a positive act. All of nature surrenders. The caterpillar surrenders and becomes a butterfly. The hawk egg surrenders to its “eggness” and becomes a hawk.
Nothing new can happen until the old loses power. When we surrender, we don't sacrifice anything. We only lose whatever is keeping us the same. Actually, we don’t lose anything. We gain everything.