Surrender by Kary Schumpert

Sweet surrender
Is all that I have to give

– Sarah McLachlan, “Sweet Surrender”

In the popular lexicon, we think of surrender in terms of the end of war when one side gives up completely to the other.  In movies, the criminals surrender to the police. We think of surrender as giving up, and most often in terms of defeat.  Surrender, traditionally, means giving up control to someone else or something else.  For me surrender has changed its meaning and significance over time.  In fact, this morning the word and meaning changed completely for me.

For a couple of days I had been thinking about the state of my life in terms of an assessment.  The questions came and went, and while I considered the situational circumstances, it was really more of an internal process.  How am I doing in my career?  How am I doing in my health?  How am I doing with my attitude towards money?  How am I doing with my family?  With my spirituality?  With my friendships?  With love?  With myself?  I wasn’t looking for answers in terms of external “success,” but more about how I felt in terms of peace within those questions.

I thought a lot about which areas of my life I felt peaceful, and which areas I did not.

Last night I felt like I had reached the end of the questions--at least for the moment.  It was difficult to figure out what had brought on the questions.  Although for me, questioning and thinking in terms of spirituality and my life is a familiar exercise--sometimes deliberate, sometimes not.  It wasn’t a birthday or anniversary of any particular event, but maybe it had to do with the season of fall and recent conversations with a good friend.

I had made a pot of tea and sunk into the couch to watch a few episodes of one of my guilty pleasure TV shows.  I purposefully pushed the questions away and lost myself in the story of something else.  The word on my mind before I went to sleep that night was “surrender.”  I kid you not.  

Sunday morning I woke up early.  My heart and mind were quiet and I felt calm.  I opened my patio door and curled up in the turquoise Adirondack chair and felt the silence.  I drank coffee and felt the steam from the cup and the cool energy of autumn.  After almost an hour, I returned inside and picked up my phone, opened up the e-mail app and clicked on one of the daily meditations that I subscribe to.  I was pleasantly surprised that the subject line was “The Secret of Surrender.”  Once again, I found synchronicity in both meaning and timing.  I lapped up the words and thought back to the word on my lips when I fell asleep last night: surrender.  

Surrender, just in the course of the journey between last night to this morning’s readings and reflections, means something new.  For me, it is peace in the moment.  It is being comfortable with what is, even when it is not what I want.  It is learning to realize the long path, but being in step with right now.  It means letting myself go and not getting caught up in end results.  It means sinking into the moment.  Surrender is the ultimate measure of taking control by letting go of control.  Surrender means being okay, even when things are not okay.

Surrender is not wishing for something, but finding comfort in loss.  It is not defeat, but neither is it a win.  Surrender is finding grace.  Surrender means letting go of people and situations and results.  Surrender means not knowing.  Surrender is finding love for myself.  Surrender means giving up looking at everyone’s “papers” trying to find the answers, and instead looking down at my own work.  Surrender means being in my own footsteps, literally and figuratively.  Surrender means forgiveness.

Surrender means right now.

Kary Schumpert is an environmental educator and writer living in New Mexico. She loves running, hiking, camping, reading, teaching, writing, and exploring spirituality. Her writing has been published in Elephant Journal, New Leaf Meditation, Green Teacher, and Community Works Journal. She is a contributing editor for Community Works Journal and she keeps a blog at