Life-changing moments. Moments with gravitas when there was no doubt about what I needed to do. No indecision. Times when I’ve been absolutely sure about my path.
You’d think that life-changing moments would be happy memories, and some of them are, for sure. But strangely, most of the life-changing moments I can recall are difficult ones. Performing CPR on a young man. Being present for the last ragged breath of a beloved pet. Choosing to trust someone who hurt me. Walking away forever from someone I loved dearly. Moving from a community and lifestyle I enjoyed to be closer to family. These are seminal moments in my life, and they weren’t easy. Many of them hurt like hell. They were stunningly heart wrenching and humbling.
But, each one was unquestioningly the right thing to do at the time. How did I know? There seemed no other option. I surrendered - to the lightening strike, to death, to pain, to heartache, to grief, to the awareness that I wasn’t wanted, to failure, to the deep desire for family.
And, I think those moments of surrender made me a bigger version of myself. They generated enormous compassion. They came with messages, new identities, skills. I know now that I am capable of witnessing pain with love and steady presence. I know I can be calm and logical in moments of emotional turmoil. I can forgive. I can lovingly accept a partner who no longer fits my fantasy or ideal. I can kindly speak deep hard truths. In fact, it is physically uncomfortable to ignore them. I am a profoundly spiritual person. I have a rich language for wisdom. I am patient and loyal, empathic and intuitive. I have a lot to offer and just because someone doesn’t want it is no reflection on me. I am not inadequate.
On the flip side, some of what I’ve learned from these moments of surrender is not comfortable at all. I tend to think the best of people’s intentions, and there are drawbacks to that tendency. I don’t call it quits early enough. I am capable of moving beyond my boundaries to compromise and hustle for my own worth. Hints fly right over my head. I can be naïve. I am imperfect.
Surrendering builds a new version of oneself. And let's face it, expansion isn’t always comfortable. Filling larger shoes isn’t like Cinderella suddenly spinning in a perfectly fitting ball gown and glass slippers. It’s shaky. Transformation can be downright clunky. It doesn’t feel stable or comfortable at all. Knowledge that you can actually fill those bigger shoes comes after you’ve walked in them, teetering, not before. Courage comes after the fact. Wisdom comes after the fact. The lessons come after surrender.
Good l’ Eckhart Tolle writes, “Through surrender, spiritual energy comes into this world … It is a silent but intense presence that dissolves the unconscious patterns of the mind. … It is a powerful transformer of situations and people.” I think he’s on to something there.