How Does Surrender Impact My Relationships With Others?
When we choose surrender—when we stop trying to stiff-arm God or give him orders and begin saying yes to him instead—things change not just within us but around us. My relationship with God is never just a personal thing because my life is connected to a lot of other lives. And that’s the way he meant for it to be.
Every single one of us does have a personal responsibility to respond to the claims of Christ. No one can do this for us. A focus on individual response to the gospel has led some to come away with the idea that Christianity is a religion of and for individuals, but it is not. Nothing in Scripture ever, ever points to the Christian life being lived out alone. There is no way around the fact that, when we live in community, our choices affect others. The only question is how.
Every single one of us is called daily to show our love for God by saying yes to his plan and no to our own short-sighted agendas by the power of his Spirit. My attitude of surrender changes me, my family, my church, and my community. The consequences of personal surrender can be far-reaching and lasting. When I surrender, relationships can strengthen and grow. When I surrender, reconciliation is possible. When I surrender, I leave a legacy. And when I surrender, I am worshiping God.
In real life, relationships require a lot of grace applied over time, and they are almost always helped by an attitude of mutual surrender. When I blow it, I go to Jesus. When both sides of a relationship blow it, we can go to Jesus together, and surrender our pride together. Of all the ways we’re called to surrender in our relationships, surrendering the past might be the hardest.
Here’s what I’ve learned, and not the easy way: you can’t grow beyond what you haven’t grieved. Old hurts stuffed out of sight aren’t healed; they’re just hidden. My tendency was to power through and not admit when I was struggling. I thought I had to be strong and not express my sadness or anger to God. I hadn’t learned how to lament, and it was affecting my marriage, my relationships at work, and my relationship with God.
What I needed was to surrender my pain to God and give him the opportunity to heal me. Eventually, I peeked into my soul, saw my wounds, and cried deeply. I fed on God’s Word in that season in a way I never have before or since. Especially the Psalms. I ingested it, I memorized it, and I savored it. It wasn’t a luxury, but a matter of life and death. I needed to hear what my Father had to say like I needed to breathe. The light of God and the truth of God—his understanding, his loving-kindness, his promises, his mercy—came to me as friends when I let down my guard and gave it all up.
Slowly, by surrendering my hurt to God, I began to heal and hope. When we follow his lead and surrender our will to his, God is pleased and honored—and our relationships can heal and thrive. To be a Christian means laying down our own agendas for his. Those of us who follow Jesus must be willing to blow up any rivalry that competes with the gospel and make new connections in his name.
What does it mean to follow Jesus’ example and serve others?
How have you seen your choices affect those around you? How has your community of believers helped you surrender your agenda for God’s agenda?
What relationship in your life needs God’s healing? What role does surrender to God play in reconciling with this person?