The state of spacious heart openness is known in spiritual traditions as surrender. Not what you usually think about when you hear the word “surrender,” is it? We usually equate the word with capitulation and consider it a sign of weakness. But surrender, spiritually understood, has nothing to do with outer capitulation, with rolling over and playing dead. It has to do with keeping the right alignment inwardly that allows you to stay in the flow of your deeper sustaining wisdom—to “feel the force,” in those legendary words from the first Star Wars movie. In that state of openness you then decide what you’re going to do about the outer situation. whatever you do, whether you acquiesce or vigorously resist, your actions will be clear.
Cynthia Bourgeault, The Wisdom Jesus
Surrender, like peace, is misunderstood in our time particularly, when the aggressive and the extrovert (in the true sense of the word) is valued over the sensitive and the introvert. But true surrender is true courage, and the opposite of cowardice. All too often, those who are too weak to open their hearts to God, to their sisters and brothers, to their own deepest selves, are the ones who fight. Those who are “strong in the Lord” (Ephesians 6.10), or to continue the Star Wars metaphor, with whom the force is strong, are free to surrender to the loving purpose of God in all things—as Paul says, (Romans 8.28 NIV) “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Do note that none of the above is ever capable of being used as an excuse for evil, nor for submitting to it. Surrender is not in any case synonymous with submission—though submission to God may well be how it plays out in certain circumstances. It may indeed be necessary either to “acquiesce or vigorously resist.” Surrender to God in all things leaves one free to choose, and choose wisely.
Myself, I have had more than once to face situations of considerable unpleasantness, physically, emotionally and spiritually. In the event, surrender has not been all that difficult—a circumstance I can only attribute to the grace of Christ—it has been maintaining that surrender in the outworkings, even in the healing, of the disaster that has proved so hard!