I hate that word. It is the embodiment of the idea that I can’t control everything, and I really, really want to believe that I am the one in control.

Or, at least, I did. When I first started my work at COR over two years ago, the idea of letting go of control, of trusting anything or anyone besides myself, was absurd. It wasn’t just something I couldn’t do; it was something that I couldn’t imagine ever wanting to do. It seemed to be an obvious recipe for disaster, a clear way to fail. Surrendering meant that someone else had to take control, and control was something that I knew without a shadow of a doubt I couldn’t trust anyone to ever hold… at least not as well as I could.

It should come as no surprise that I showed up to COR Woman utterly and completely exhausted. I had lived my life feeling like I had to hold the weight of the entire world on my shoulders, that if I considered letting my guard down, even for a second, things would explode in chaos. People would die. Life would end as I knew it… and probably as you knew it, too, because somehow, it felt as if everyone in the whole world would be let down and impacted if I rested or relaxed even for a second.

Crazy, right? And yet… I’d bet money that a few of you can relate. I think we all have at least a part of us that feels this way. Our survivor selves hate the ideas of surrendering, of trusting. The idea that we should trust that it’s okay to surrender? It’s like a double punch to the gut.

It’s for this reason that it was such a hard moment for me when I realized that the only way to a really great life was through surrender and trust, through letting go of any illusion of control. It shattered my entire way of being, of thinking, of existing in the world. It seemed impossible to ever find a path forward, like being told that I must leap off the cliff and fly, when I knew without doubt that no flying would happen: just falling, and dying.

It’s a testament to the leadership of Lee and Britta that I was willing to throw myself off that cliff. It turns out, I didn’t die. Instead, I learned how to live. 

Along the way I learned that surrendering is not at all like flying, or diving off cliffs. Surrendering is much more like swimming in the ocean.

If you look for all the things that could kill you, you will find endless examples, backed up by countless news stories and far-fetched one in a million tales from friends, who heard from friends, who heard from friends. There is every indication in the world to not surrender, to not trust, to insist that it takes nonstop vigilance, control, and preparedness to survive for even one second in this dark, scary world.

 And yet, contrary to all indications, all the water wants to do is hold you. It’s natural essence is that of buoyancy, allowance, and life-giving support. To experience all of this, you don’t have to do anything. All you have to do is remember, and stop flailing around. Relax into it, and float.

For me, the concepts of surrender and trust are not just concepts; they are prompts that remind me to relax, and to breathe. They remind me to imagine the water, and remember to float.

There are now rare times when doing so feels easy, but most of the time, this still feels painful and hard. And yet, I can look back at where I was, and where I am now, and fully realize that the illusion that I had control never did anything but hurt me, while surrendering and trusting has continually led me straight into the good that is always waiting for me. My trust in that always leads me forward.

Sometimes, when I forget, I go to the water, and float. I think about all the ways that I’m tensed, trying to control the outcome, and see how much I can just let go, and surrender to the ways in which the water naturally wants to hold me, support me, keep me alive. And through this, I remember.

Surrendering is not an action. It’s not a thing to do. It’s more that to experience surrender, we have to let go of all the other things we are clinging to, so that we can just… be. Be present, be available, be relaxed, be ourselves. And, just float. Knowing that somehow, someway, everything is going to be okay.

Where are you clinging in your life? What can you let go of, so that you can float?

Remember… The water wants to hold you. Today, can you trust in it, and relax?


Jen Underwood