As I write this, 2020 is thankfully behind us, yet its lessons and consequences continue to reverberate through our lives and will do so indefinitely. Indeed, the beginnings of the new year seem to remain in the harrowing grip of 2020- the pandemic rages as it claims millions of lives and countries grapple with unprecedented unrest, conflict, violence, and corruption at the highest levels of government. 2020 was laden with lessons and clarion calls for change, an individual and collective wake-up call. The depth and breadth of these lessons have not yet fully emerged but will eventually reveal themselves to those willing to receive them and move forward with the newfound knowledge they bring.
In a year when unrelenting tragedies and harrowing events demolished our perceptions of control, often due to the treacherous actions of stunningly corrupt individuals, it has been all too easy to feel despair. These past months have effectively ripped the blinders from our eyes and exposed unnerving truths in ways impossible to ignore. At least, I hope so, because the lessons of 2020 continue to this day and must be heeded if we are to move forward.
There are lessons for each of us as individuals. Then there are those larger ones for the human collective. The latter will unfold and emerge over time and are beyond this article’s scope but will be addressed in future writings. This article focuses on one of the thorniest and challenging lessons I have encountered in this lifetime — the illusion of control. The arc of events in 2020 brought into sharp focus my relationship with control and highlighted once again the inescapable truth that I still have much to learn.
Each one of us has lessons to learn from this unprecedented time. For me, the most significant has been the disturbing truth about control and its exposure as a fragile flimsy construct that crumbled to dust under the catastrophic onslaught of events. When it crumbled, its debris starkly revealed it as nothing more than an illusion.
My relationship with control has been a long and often painful one and has been the source of struggles with anxiety. As a would-be perfectionist, having my life “in order” calms and soothes anxious moments. But, as we know, life on Earth rarely follows the plans and desires we have determinedly set forth. To illustrate, I had planned to write and submit this article two days ago. However, unexpected distractions and detours reared their demanding heads, successfully thwarting my plans to write. As a result, my self-imposed deadline came and went (sans article), and my desire for control kicked into overdrive. So, in an attempt to quell the increasing anxiety, I switched gears- Okay then, I’ll definitely finish the article on Sunday. The control monster was thus appeased, anxiety ebbed, and I congratulated myself on my resilience and flexibility.
Unsurprisingly, however, the Universe had the final say. On Friday evening, we had a series of family emergencies, the fallout of which continued through most of the weekend. Once again, my “plans” were derailed, and I could almost hear the cosmic laughter. At that point, I sighed, waved the proverbial white flag — and surrendered.
Surrender is a powerful word with many connotations and implications. The events leading to this particular surrender were a master lesson about the nature of control as an illusion created by the ego’s drive for safety and security. When I (finally) accepted the surrender and embraced the flow of a loving Universe, my anxiety evaporated. I realized that Spirit had given me a valuable lesson: All is as it needs to be, and everything is purposeful. In my drive to do everything, be everything, and complete the endless tasks I set for myself, I overlooked this basic universal concept and allowed my ego-self to run amok. The delays and emergencies were well-disguised gifts and a forceful reminder to stop and let the Universe flow, with all its wisdom and loving support. When I stopped railing against the distractions and detours, the message was clear -Accept and Trust. By allowing the import of those words to settle within me, I was again reminded of that powerful universal truth. Although the path to surrender is often painful, the result is peace and relief, and sometimes joy. Surrender allows us to be present and to appreciate, maybe for the first time, the fluidity of life. It can awaken a curiosity about life that was missing during our desire to control it. And perhaps best of all, surrendering to a higher wisdom permits us to experience the ineffable blessing of Grace.
However, in our all-too-human experience, this lesson is one that most of us need to learn repeatedly. Surrendering control is a continuous process that unfolds across lifetimes. Indeed, I have been learning to surrender and let go for many years and have steadily chipped away at the resistance. Yet there is still work to be done — the ego is reluctant to release its hold, its illusion of control. After all, we are human beings with human needs, desires, perspectives, and expectations. Releasing those to the Universe’s care is a struggle because, to the human ego, it represents a loss of control. At its core, control is a fear-based reaction, whereas surrender, in this context, comes from a place of love and trust. The paradox is that when we finally do give ourselves to the flow of Spirit and the Universe, it truly empowers us in a way that transcends the human perspective of power. As sparks of the Divine, we are then better able to illuminate the way forward for ourselves and others. When we learn to respond to life’s challenges from a place of love, and surrender ourselves to the intricate and perfect order of the Universe and Spirit, we are forever transformed.
Embracing surrender and releasing control are valuable lessons indeed, and Earthly life is immeasurably improved when we allow the all-knowing and loving Universe to lead the way. As we move into another year, my wish is that all know the peace and serenity that comes when we Accept and Trust.
A final note: When I surrendered to the delays and frustrations encountered during this article’s writing, the words effortlessly poured forth. Spirit’s sense of irony was clear — in attempting to control the writing of an article about surrender, I first had to relinquish control, and once again, embrace surrender. Lesson learned.