The Soul-Shaking Practice of Surrender


This word keeps appearing in my life. The world surrender started whispering in my ear in yoga, then spoke a little louder at church and now sings out loud in books I’m reading and through conversations with friends. It is my inherent nature to resist as opposed to surrender.

When you think about surrender, you might think of it as letting go, or giving up. Surrender does means to relinquish control or yield to power, and as scary as that may sound, it’s exactly what has to happen before going all in. Before effective action or long-lasting change comes soul-shaking surrender.

Surrender is …

  • committing to something so fully it becomes part of your constitution
  • loving someone so deeply that their happiness comes before yours
  • leading by example by being as true to the world as you are to yourself
  • saying things like “I need help” and “please forgive me”
  • accepting people for who they are and for exactly where they are
  • fully embracing the present moment just as it is without judgement

It seems we are often in a state of flux, wishing for permanence and consistency. As soon as we reach that place, things change and shift again. Perhaps we need to surrender to transformation and transition. In a moment of surrender, your story can begin to unfold.

Earlier this week, these words about surrender took on a whole new meaning.

My brother-in-law, an avid cyclist was in a cycling accident this week. He fractured his hip and shoulder. He is pinned and plated, bruised and broken, but with his strong will and committed, loving family he will recover. He will fight and work to regain everything he lost in this accident.

My sister has been fighting for him since the crash. They live in a foreign country and it’s been up to her to navigate the health care system and make sure he is receiving the best possible care while keeping her children calm and daily life afloat.

Their life has been turned upside down. Soon, they will have to surrender.

I invite you to surrender too

  • Surrender to being lost or found
  • Surrender to love or loss
  • Surrender to brokenness or wholeness
  • Surrender to grief or joy
  • Surrender to work or play
  • Surrender to chaos and loneliness

Without surrender there is no engagement, lesson, embrace or deep awareness for what you are experiencing. That’s a great tool to avoid pain and disappointment, but at the same time, you are discarding, joy, grace, love and immense gratitude. You need that moment of surrender before you can fully engage and go all in.

When you find it in your heart to surrender, you stop looking for a quick fix and can make more thoughtful, intentional, purposeful decisions and actions.

With surrender, you finally understand that the things you worry about so much rarely happen, and you have little control over the things that do. In surrender you can stop thinking and plotting and planning. You can stop changing people or believing you can. Surrender allows you to trust that things in this moment are the way they should be. You are ok right where you are.

My brother-in-law and sister will have weeks and maybe months of fighting and pushing and adjusting. Today, in this moment, I pray for a moment of peace and surrender for them. I pray that they can take a deep breath and surrender to exactly where they are and know that everything will be ok. Please pray and wish that for them too. Then, pray and wish that for yourself and people you love.

The next time you fear surrender because you think it makes you look weak, choose to surrender because it will make you whole.

What do you need to surrender to right now?

Sharing in the comments may help someone struggling with something similar.



  1. says

    This is a remarkable post, Courtney. I’ve been surrendering to grief and it has brought joy. I aspire to surrender to limitless love. And right now, I could truly surrender to doing the work I love. Thank you for these words of wisdom and the link love too.

  2. says

    I hope that your brother-in-law recovers quickly and can enjoy the holidays at least somewhat.

    “Perhaps we need to surrender to transformation and transition. In a moment of surrender, your story can begin to unfold.” This is it right here. We have to be able to handle change and adapt. It is a fact of life. Those of us who try to keep things the same, conserve a vision of the past and fight change will fail, as they always do.

  3. Rebecca L. says

    Thanks this is what I have been needing…either the kick in the pants or just someone to put it into words. Today I will try and surrender to the fact that my friendships are changing with people I have known a long time but, being farther away from them we are not so close anymore. It hurts but, it is what it is.

    I am surrendering to the fact that our holidays may not be the most “perfect” but, I will do my best to at least make them fun. Even if my 3.5 year old does not get everything she wants. Ah well and that I may have to pay for that later in tears and anger.

    Thanks for helping me surrender and I hope everyone else gets a chance to surrender as well.

  4. Jamie says

    Wow, you have cosmic timing! I have just recently surrendered to the fact that some people do not want to grow and change for the better and no matter what I do I can not change them. It hurts when it is family but we are all adults and I strive for being a better me every day and moving forward. Some folks do not have that goal and either way I have to finally let it go. Thanks for the gentle nudge. You are just amazing. Have a wonderful holiday, and know I am grateful that you took the leap to do what you love it is helping me every day!

  5. Jane says

    Courtney, sending your B-i-L & sister some good karma & hopes for a quick recovery!

    Anytime something bad happens in our family – we all try to find as much humor in it as soon as possible as that seems to go a long way at calming the fears & aids in recovery. It’s usually low brow before long, but man it sure works!

  6. says

    This word keeps coming up for me too, and for me it does mean giving up, letting go. This morning, I wrote this line in my journal: “This will continue as long as I am doing things that require me to continue to deny myself and what I want.” “This” is that I am a highly functioning food addict, and I realized today that until I surrender to what life is really asking of me, give in completely, give up all of the habits and excuses that are stopping me, it won’t ever stop–I have to surrender to what is, to who I am. Thank you for this gentle reminder.

  7. Claire says

    My mom has been ill for some time, and I’ve got to come to terms with the fact that we will lose her soon. I was so angry for the last couple of months, but about stupid things, not consciously thinking about my mom. Finally one day after yelling at pretty much everyone in my house, I broke down sobbing.. alone, and then with my husband hugging me. No words needed. I’ve been so much more at peace since then. I know I have more to go on this journey, but I think the idea of surrender is going to help.

  8. says

    This is exactly what I needed to hear (or read, I guess) right now. My oldest cat is sick… according to the vet there are two possibilities. One is no big deal, and the other means he has cancer and will have to be put to sleep soon. In the meantime there’s lots of waiting and wondering and wishing I could do something for my little friend who has given me so very much. I’ve been vacillating between trying to will him to get better and a somewhat cynical sense of fatalism, neither of which is very helpful to either him or me. Ultimately, I know this is the price I pay for loving creatures that don’t get to live as long as we do… and all I can really do is love him. Doesn’t make it any easier though.

    • Jamie says

      Been there my self and he rallied and decided to stay with me a bit longer. Please remember that you know him better than anyone else. And don’t be too hard on yourself no matter the outcome, love him bunches while you have him and remember he loves you back!

      • says

        Awwwww… thanks so much for your kind words. I’m so glad your little friend rallied and stuck around for a while. I just have to keep reminding myself to take it one day at a time.

  9. says

    I think that by embracing the idea of surrendering we can grow as individuals. I like the qualities of honesty, love, commitment, non-judgement, acceptance, peace, humour and forgiveness that resonate through your post and in the comments above.

  10. MelD says

    I enjoyed this post and like the sentiment it embodies.
    For me, it goes together with everything having a silver lining. You can’t change a lot of what happens, but you can see the positive sides. No point crying over spilled milk.
    We just had this. My mom has put her life on hold to go and look after her mom (96) abroad so that grandma can stay in her own home for as long as possible. So far nearly a year. Now my mom fell ill and needed major surgery. How lucky that one of my daughters just moved to within a couple of hours journey to her grandma and great-grandma and could spend time she would otherwise not have had with her great-grandma, also at the same time relieving my mom of the worry about care – and she did it with very good grace, too. How lucky that my youngest daughter is old enough to have continued on without me for a month (and even her birthday), together with my husband, while I went over to do my share of care and give me unexpected time with my mom, gran and in my home country. It’s the little moments! How lucky that my mom is otherwise healthy and is recovering very well in the care of her family (us!) and how lucky she is gregarious and found the 2 weeks in hospital, where she appreciated better medical care than expected, almost like a holiday! How lucky we are, too, that modern media meant that our family being all separated and apart we could still talk on the phone or even have video chats with each other to share our daily lives – and we even got to see our granddaughter taking her first steps this way and didn’t miss out on a thing. On the contrary, life’s events has meant that we are enriched!! Love it. Surrender. Enjoy the silver linings…

  11. Andrea says

    Imagine I say this while gritting my teeth.
    It resonates with me, and I know I for what it is, but HOW do you surrender?

    • says

      Andrea, this is EXACTLY what I want to know also….. HOW do we surrender? Many say to “surrender” but I’ve not been shown a template for how to do it. THANK YOU for asking the same question.

  12. Clare says

    My long time boyfriend of 16 years and father of my child has developed a friendship and feelings for his employee who is the same age as our kids-22years old. She has been having problems with her boyfriend, drugs and no longer has custody of her son. My boyfriend has been helping her secretly since last year, adding her on his phone line, providing moral support and contacting her consistently while I am out of town. Recently I found them alone at his business where he was smoking pot. After that incident, he promised no further contact however I checked his phone statement and found he was lying. At that time realized she was on his phone line and insisted her number to be removed. He says, he’s only trying help her by being a friend who can listen to her problems. I told her and him to find someone else to talk to. He also said she was calling him, which I discovered he was in fact calling her on a regular basis. We have 4 kids and I want to work it out but am having a difficult time trusting him. He says terrible things, like why do I want to be with him if I don’t trust him and blames me for investigating his discretions. I wish he would be honest and take responsibility of his part in this. He justifies that we had problems before she was around anyways. I am independent financing and individually. Over the years, he has accused me of cheating because for a period of time I was distant and angry with him. Every time I talk to him about his action, he turns the conversation around to point his finger at me.
    I hope to work to overcome this obstacle but feel he isn’t being accountable or even really sorry I got hurt. I decided to surrender and accept him. Change myself to meet my principles and moral values.