In part one of this conversation, we are diving deep into the topic of active surrender. What does it mean to surrender? Why can’t we stop trying to control our lives? Why is trusting God so hard when He calls us to surrender our problems to Him? If you’re naturally a control freak and find it hard to surrender (like me!), you’ll love this honest episode on how we can manage our thoughts and emotions when we’re called to surrender.
This episode is split into two parts so make sure you check out Part 2 next week.
WHAT YOU'LL LEARN:
- [2:02] Alicia’s current struggles with stepping into surrender
- [3:50] What keeps us from surrender and what active surrender looks like
- [7:37] How the story of Abraham relates to active surrender
- [9:48] Elements of active surrender
- [11:51] The perfect example of active surrender
- [20:00] What keeps us from surrendering to God
- [23:42] What can we expect to happen when we surrender to God?
- [31:51] How to take action towards active surrender now
[2:02] Alicia’s current struggles with stepping into surrender
Surrendering is something that I am currently struggling with. The other day after I was sharing about some of my current struggles, a friend of mine pointed out to me that I need to stop striving. That statement caused me to take a step back and pause for a moment as I have been working really hard over the past 5 to 7 years to overcome my perfectionism and people pleasing tendencies. At that moment, I realized that those tendencies were still very much present inside of me, however, now I have the power to not let them take over.
[3:50] What keeps us from surrender and what active surrender looks like
As I felt called to talk about how I believe God is wanting us to lean into active surrender, I was reminded of a recent experience with my family.
We were enjoying an afternoon in the yard, sitting, relaxing, and talking to each other, when we began to notice a bird making a really aggressive sound, similar to a car alarm. At first we looked around at each other, laughing and confirming that we all heard the same sound. After a while, the bird seemed to become more agitated, making the same call but faster and louder. We each took turns trying to call out to the bird, to break up the noise or to shoo it away, until we eventually embraced the reality that there was nothing that we could do. We placed the focus back on relaxing and enjoying our time together until, eventually, the bird stopped. We had been so wrapped up in conversations that we had barely noticed.
That situation reflects a microcosm of how I feel this battle between control and surrender takes place. Many of us are tiring ourselves out fighting for answers, trying to control something that we physically cannot change. God has been revealing to me that by trying to grasp control, we are wasting our energy, and doing the very thing that is causing us to stay stuck in a cycle of heartache. We're wasting energy that we could be using to replenish ourselves in the battle.
Now, it’s important to understand that when I'm surrendering a situation, I'm not ignoring that the situation happens. I'm not saying that I'm okay with how things are happening. Instead, I'm saying that I care deeply about this situation and recognize that as a human I am not able to truly fix it. I am choosing instead to recognize that He is God, and I'm going to sit back and let Him do what only He can do.
Some questions we can ask ourselves:
- What keeps us from surrender?
- Why do we get in our own way?
- What does active surrender look like?
- How is surrender different from just walking away from the situation and not thinking about it at all anymore?
- What are some biblical examples of how we can try to stop fixing and choose surrender instead?
[7:37] How the story of Abraham relates to active surrender
If we think back to the story of Abraham, what can we learn? God had given him a vision of what his life would look like, that he would be the father of many nations, and yet he and his wife Sarah struggled to conceive. In an attempt to control the situation, Abraham impregnated his slave girl, Hagar.
We may look at Abraham in this scenario and think about how terrible he was, taking the matter into his own hands instead of trusting God’s timing, but interestingly enough, in the book A Curious Faith, author Lore Ferguson Wilbert is able to draw many similarities between Abraham’s actions and our own day-to-day dealings with trying to control things in our own lives.
In the book, Lore describes her annoyance with Abraham as she describes similar qualities in herself. She discusses her attempts to control outcomes by inserting her will into circumstances that feel impossible, and how sometimes the truth becomes muddled when it may benefit her. This may sound familiar for many of us, as we tend to feel that God’s will is taking too long, or we believe that God requires the most difficult path for us.
It’s my belief that in the moments we find ourselves drawn into a very natural, human response to try to control situations in life, we should instead take the opportunity to reposition ourselves before the Lord. It’s in these times especially that we are able to practice active surrender.
We can ask ourselves:
- How are we like Abraham regarding his need to control?
- What can we learn from his attempt to control the outcome?
- How can we see these moments as an opportunity to reposition ourselves in front of the Lord?
[9:48] Elements of active surrender
I have to tell you, posture is one of my new favorite words. So, what does it mean? Posture simply means that we are in control of how we’re going to look at a situation. It’s how we are going to position ourselves before what is happening. Do we choose to position ourselves on our knees, or standing tall while screaming at the heavens?
Whatever we choose, we are solely responsible for our posture. The results of that posture are up to God.
When we embrace a posture of active surrender, a posture that honors God, and we stay in that posture, that is when we can release the outcome and find peace in any result. That is when we truly see victory.
There are varying elements of active surrender, and many postures that we can take. We can stay in obedience, which is staying in the posture of following what He’s telling us to do. We can choose to stay in the posture of listening, instead of speaking over what God may be trying to tell us, and instead of trying to control what we see, we can take the posture of trust, resting in the promise ahead.
We can reflect on these questions:
- What is the posture of our automatic response to situations?
- How do we want to position ourselves instead?
- How can we practice being in that posture?
[11:51] The perfect example of active surrender
We can find the perfect example of active surrender in one of my favorite Psalms, Psalm 1:3.
In Psalm 1:3, it says that a person who plants himself by God, follows His law, and listens to His Word is like a tree that plants itself by the river, with leaves that never wither and branches that are always full of fruit. This passage is describing a person who has positioned himself or herself in a receiving posture, in active surrender before God.
When we put ourselves in active surrender, we’re putting ourselves by the stream. We’re not forcing the stream to flow. We’re not creating the energy, the life-giving force of the stream. We are placing ourselves next to where God is at work, and we’re letting Him fill us with that water. From a posture of receiving, of active surrender, we are able to rest as He shows us what’s next instead of trying to jump in and try to make the water ourselves.
This Psalm holds such beautiful imagery and has been something that I’ve held closely through my own journey. I highly encourage you to take a moment to read and reflect on the passage for yourself.
[20:00] What keeps us from surrendering to God
Sometimes trust can be really hard, and we can show up as short-sighted humans who want to create an experience that is as painless as possible. What I have found is that this usually stems from issues we have with trusting God, even if we aren’t aware of them. When this happens, something has usually happened in our life that has caused the safety mechanism inside our brain to say, “I can’t let go of this.”
When I’m working with women inside of our coaching sessions and the Christian Mindset Makeover, we get to the root of what is truly causing our trust issues with God and we discover the lies that have found their way into our beliefs and are keeping us from being able to fully trust in God’s promises.
Many of us have been through situations that have caused things to fester, slowly eroding our trust with God, without even realizing it. When that trust has eroded, and we come into situations where we need to take on a posture of active surrender, it may feel like an impossibility. This is because we cannot surrender when we’re also experiencing trust that has been broken or blocked.
[23:42] What can we expect to happen when we surrender to God?
Many things happen when we choose to surrender to God.
I’ve found that one of the first things that will happen is an attack from the enemy. In my experience, the enemy will try to throw things at me before or while I’m trying to enter a position of active surrender. I’ll begin to hear that I’m not good enough, or that if I enter active surrender, I’ll be living passively and I won’t be doing enough. I feel urges to take control. The enemy especially likes to persuade me that I’m turning a blind eye, playing on situations in my past where I have been blindsided by devastating life events. As I feel the pull, I recognize it partly as human nature to try to keep myself in safety, but I know that true safety is in active surrender to God.
As the enemy attempts to convince you that all these terrible things will happen if you enter a posture of receiving, here’s what is actually happening: We are letting God be God, and allowing Him to do what only He can do. We are not miracle workers, and sometimes a situation can only be solved through a miracle from our Creator. When we take a posture of active surrender, we are recognizing our own limitations and responsibility, and we are giving space for God to do what is needed by practicing attentiveness, listening, and love.
[31:51] How to take action towards active surrender now
Next week on the podcast, we’ll be continuing the conversation around active surrender, but if you feel like this topic is really striking a chord and you’d like to continue the conversation now, I encourage you to check out my free Chrisitan Mindset Workshop. I’ve created it specifically to help us get past feeling like we’re never enough and into the posture of active surrender, and in the free training, I share more about how we can use proven brain science tools and timeless biblical truths together to work through mindset issues like surrender or feeling “not enough”. Join me here for this awesome free training!
Book: A Curious Faith, by author Lore Ferguson Wilbert
OTHER PODCAST EPISODES ON BREAKING FREE FROM THE ACTIVE SURRENDER:
- Episode 71: Self Care 101: Managing capacity, clutter, calm and control
- Episode 164: 2 Questions to Ask When Surrendering to God for More Peace
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About Alicia Michelle
Alicia Michelle is a certified NeuroCoach™, Bible teacher, speaker and host of The Christian Mindset Coach Podcast and You Tube Show. More importantly, she’s a lover of Jesus, a wife of 21 years to her best friend, and mom of four amazing kids ages 19 to 10. Alicia struggled with overthinking, negative thoughts and “being enough” for most of her adult life until God radically transformed her heart after a life-threatening medical crisis. Now through her signature courses and coaching programs she loves equipping women with practical, scientific and biblically-based mindset tools to help them overcome negative thought patterns and discover more confident, joyful lives in Christ. Listen to her on the podcast or on You Tube; download free workshop trainings at VibrantChristianLiving.com; and connect on Facebook and Instagram.
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