About a million years ago, I was a figure skater. I grew up in a small, rural village and everyone skated in the winter. Boys generally played hockey and girls slipped on those white skates to learn how to glide like swans on the icy white.
Every year I would learn a new set of dances—not the jumping, spinning kind, but the ones with a partner and a set pattern of steps we’d learn together.
We would execute intricate turns, quick twists and deep edges set rhythmically to the music. One year, my partner was a professional who had been shipped into my small town to help me learn some of the more advanced dances. He was the expert and had passed these dance tests years earlier. I was going to learn from him in order to showcase one dance for the judges.
My goal was simple but not easy: pass the test.
If it had been an option, I would have wanted my pro partner to do the dance all by himself for me—he was far better at it than I was and had proven he knew exactly what to do to be successful.
But that’s not how it works. I had to learn the steps, we had to figure out how to work together and in order to pass and move onto the next level, we had to maneuver our way around the ice using all the right steps.
The process of learning how to partner together was challenging.
The trick was to stick close to each other— closer than what seemed comfortable sometimes. One of the things he had to remind me most often was to lean into him more and to let him guide and move me.
The dance only worked when he took the lead and I let go of my control.
It felt awkward and counter-intuitive. I had my specific steps and he had his, but it never helped my cause to focus on my individual steps alone; it was important that I moved in the context of our connection.
The more I focused on my own steps, held control and resisted him, the more labored our dance together became. Sometimes we’d be moving so quickly I was sure we’d fall. All I wanted was to steady myself by pulling away from him.
The day of the test came. Right in the middle of the dance, our blades locked and we fell right in front of the judges. It happened because I was trying to steer us one way instead of melting into where he was leading. I was mortified. I thought it meant an instant failing grade. But without hesitation, my partner took my hand, helped me up and spoke to the judges on my behalf asking if we could have a do-over.
I passed the dance on that day and learned a valuable lesson at the same time.
The dance of personal transformation is a lot like this.
God is clearly the expert. He knows the dance and exactly what steps I need to take to be successful. He guides, encourages and counsels me.
The very best thing I can do—even when it feels awkward and unnerving—is to get close and let him maneuver me. He plays his part and I play mine, and we do this dance together.
If I don’t surrender to this beautiful dance, we won’t get anywhere.
Even when the steps feel unmanageable and frightfully close to a fall, I need to trust he knows what he is doing.
God is not the cosmic judge waiting for me to fall. He’s my partner who picks me up and helps me when I slip.
Letting God change me from the inside out is my chance to partner with someone who wants to see me be my best and knows how to get me there.
When we long for something to change, we must first surrender and let go of the things holding us back.
Some things must die for something new to be born.
Surrender isn’t a one-time event either. It’s moment after moment after moment of submitting to the process of loosening our grip on things we like to control.
It feels like we’re emptying our power and giving up. This is why words like weak, frail, fragile or even pathetic come to mind when I hear the word surrender.
But surrender isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s one of the most powerful and challenging things we’ll ever do.
We’re being invited to give up our power to control others, to give up manipulating outcomes and to give up comforting ourselves with distraction.
Jesus – Our Partner, Our Coach
When I’m struggling to surrender my control, I need to remind myself that God isn’t standing on the sidelines waiting impatiently for me to finally figure it out and get it all right. He isn’t shaking his head in disgust, wondering why I haven’t mastered it all.
He’s actually on the field with me.
Jesus has committed to coaching and equipping me throughout this whole game of life—not because he has to, but because he absolutely loves to.
He knows I’ve mastered some things. He’s delighted in that progress and is wholeheartedly invested in the process of the parts I’m trying to master now.
He understands that being transformed into an “all-star player” doesn’t happen overnight. He’s not concerned when one day I get it right and the next day I don’t. He knows that learning, rewiring and mastering new habits is a process.
All God asks is that we stick with it and stick with him.
He can’t work with people who are beating themselves up with guilt for not getting it right all the time, nor can he work with people who play the powerless victim.
But he can work with someone who is daring enough to try and try again.
And, like any good coach, he knows there are many more new things to learn later, but that we’re not ready to take on quite yet. This is good news for those of us who feel like we should throw in the towel.
Surrender is about submitting to the process of God changing me. Let’s be gentle with ourselves when we’ve not yet fully realized the change we long for and remember that our partner and coach is for us and never ever against us.
This blog post was taken from an excerpt from my new book, just released, called Life's Great Dare: Risking It All for the Abundant Life.
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