July is a time to reflect on our Independence. As always, I want to thank all of those who gave of themselves to help all of us to share in the wonderful independence we have today here in America. Thank you to all of you who have helped keep this the Land of the Free.
Today, when I think of independence, the Land of the Free is not the first thing that comes to mind. I think of the real independence I have today...my spiritual independence that allows me to not be overwhelmed with the highs and lows of life. I then think of all the things that at one time or another I have been dependent on. The things that robbed me of the ability to think and act clearly; that made me dependent and kept my mind trapped into thinking a certain way.
As a kid playing with my little green plastic army soldiers, I always thought of surrender being the opposite of independence. I remember in the movies when the Japanese surrendered, they lost the war and had to "give up" to the Americans. It was a time of defeat and humiliation. Surrender was not an honorable thing. You lost and hung your head in shame.
So later in life, when I was told that I had to surrender in order to gain independence from the very things that were bringing me down (whether it is was the things I was obsessing over or the thoughts that were blocking my ability to see clearly), I had mixed emotions.
In our society, we have been taught on many levels that if we want something, we have to work hard for it. We have to take action. Without action, there will be no gain.
Of course, on many "material" levels this is true. When I speak of material here, I am speaking of "within Creation." To get good grades in school, most of us have to put the time and effort into it. If we want to advance at work, we need to excel. If we want nice things in life, we have to work for them, etc. All of these things do bring some level of happiness and comfort...temporarily. That is the nature of "material" things. They do not last. Nothing in creation lasts. Everything comes and goes.
But I was told that Surrender was not on the "material" level. So, until I could change my perspective (from material to spiritual), it was hard to Surrender.
Yes, if we are dependent on alcohol, drugs, sex, food, money, power, etc., we do have to give some of them up, or re-learn how to have those things in our life first, and then we can begin to have a different perspective...to see things differently. First, we have to stop the destructive behavior. Once that is done, we can replace the destructive behavior by looking at things differently.
One of the first things that helped me change my perspective was to start to see that things are in order. It might not be the order I would want them to be in, but everything is happening just the way it's supposed to happen.
Of course, I have to do my part...whatever that is (work hard, follow the rules, don't lie, cheat, steal, you get the idea), but then I also have to let go of the results. Being attached to the results or having expectations are the two things that keep us going in circles. Doing the same things over and over and expecting different results.
We are really being asked to see life through a different lens. Now some might call that faith. And yes, surrender is faith in action to some degree. But after a while, it's so much more than faith. It's a knowing from the core of your Being. It's confirmed with everything you see.
In 12-step programs, they use a prayer that has continuously revealed more and more to me. It is the Serenity Prayer. During July in my Ah-Man Blog, I will review and share what that prayer has meant to me. I hope that you, too, will share with your experiences with me.
In the meantime, enjoy all the promises and possibilities this summer will bring you and try to see it from a different perspective. Everything is unfolding just the way it is supposed to.
Peace and Love
The 12-Step Prayer
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.