Lately, I have been reading more about surrender. It is definitely a concept that is difficult for a lot of people to understand. Surrender often times has a connotation of waving the white flag and giving up one’s power to the enemy. However, in recovery, surrender is looked at differently. Surrendering does not mean that we give up our power to the enemy, it means that we give up our power and will to the Captain of our Army who can help us continue to defend against the enemy. Whether that enemy is drugs or sex or food or spending or the other thousand different ways that we can numb, surrendering to the captain is a concept taught in the first 3 steps of the 12 step programs.
There is another way of looking at surrender, which is simply letting go. Letting go seems to be a difficult concept for people to know how to do. I read book after book looking for THE answer about how to let things go — things like resentments, fantasies, or worries. Most of the literature that I read went on and on about how harmful it is to hold on to things that poison our spirits, but there was not much in the way of instruction on how one actually lets go.
The reason for this is that the process of letting go is actually not that complicated. Imagine grabbing a pan that was incredibly hot while forgetting to wear insulated gloves. The moment your fingers touch the metal, you let go to avoid further pain. It is instantaneous. We simply drop it. According to the number of authors speaking on the subject, it is really that simple. We open our fingers and let the object fall.
How does one do that with emotions, thoughts, and worries, though? How do I simply let go of the anxiety and worry that I am feeling about life events, possible future experiences, or even past behaviors? It was a question that wrested on my mind most heavily, especially after some challenging experiences I recently walked through.
This morning, as I was walking my dogs and watching the beautiful sunrise, a thought entered my brain. Maybe it stemmed from one of The Office episodes I watched with my daughter when Jim Halbert walks into the newly appointed supervisor’s office, Dwight Shrute with a paper for Dwight to sign. Dwight stares at the paper and then at his inbox indicating that he is not going to do anything until Jim puts it in his inbox. Jim places the paper in the inbox. Dwight promptly takes the paper out of his inbox, signs it, and then places it in the outbox for Jim to pick up.
The thought came to me that God has an inbox. When there is a burden that feels too overwhelming for me, I can put it in God’s inbox. Items that are out my control, things that have happened in the past that I cannot change, actions being taken by other people that may have an impact on my life in the future, but for which I have no ability to do anything about today, worries about where I may end up a year from now, concerns about how my children will turn out, fears about loss, rejection, abandonment, betrayal, etc.; none of which I have any control over at all. What if I put those in God’s inbox?
Byron Katie teaches that there is my business, there is your business, and there is God’s business. Life becomes incredibly complicated and tied up in mutated emotions when we try doing other people’s work. I have an inbox. You have an inbox. God has an inbox. Life becomes more challenging if I keep trying to take work out of your inbox to attempt to complete myself. The same goes for you if you try to take the assignment out of my inbox and attempt to finish them on your end. It really gets challenging when we try to take work out of God’s inbox and attempt to do it ourselves. And it is brutally overwhelming.
There may be times when God puts something in my inbox. Actions that I need to take to bring greater peace into this world. God will only put things in my box that are my responsibility and of which I have the capability, skills, and ability to accomplish. I can do the same with God. I can put things in God’s inbox that I don’t have the capability, skill, or ability to do at this time.
I started practicing that today. Whenever I had a distressing thought, a worry about the future, or even shame about something from the past, I imagined putting it in God’s inbox. Sometimes, I would have to put it in God’s inbox multiple times before I actually let it stay there. The more I practiced putting it in God’s inbox, the lighter I felt and the more peace I experienced.
I felt God saying to me, “Yes, Troy, put it in my box. I will take care of this matter for you.” And I had confidence that the matter will be taken care of in due time.
I then felt God say something else to me, “Troy, here is something I am putting in your inbox.” I felt a prompting to write this post. It was something I could do. And after it was done, it felt like I could sign my signature on the document and send it back to God indicating that my assignment was complete. I better understood that there is a relationship between us wherein we can freely place items in each other’s inboxes ironically knowing that God will help me accomplish the assignments given to me with loving, kind, encouragement.
It was a different experience today and one that helped me better understand the concept of surrender. I found a new way of letting go. I put my burdens in God’s inbox.