Marianne Williamson famously said, “To spiritually surrender something is to surrender our thoughts about it. What we put on the altar is then altered.” I, of course, loved this quote because of the altar/alter wordplay (because I’m a nerd). But once I started to really think about the sentiment,
I had a moment of flashback to my childhood. My mom has a friend that used to say to us all the time, “Give it up to God” when my sister and I would complain about something. (Many, many eyerolls followed.) Eyerolls aside, I never realized just how powerful this sentiment really is. Give it up. It’s not worth stressing about. Why? Because YOU are not in control. Whether you call it God, Spirit, the Universe, whathaveyou, there is a power greater than you who knows the plan. You are not privy to this plan. So don’t worry about the plan. Trust that the universe has your back!
As soon as you can admit this, as soon as you can begin to stop yourself from freaking out when you hit a roadblock, as soon as you can offer up your stress/issue/problem to the universe and take a step back, you will feel it. A lightness of being, a confidence that you will be taken care of. When you truly surrender to this entity greater than yourself your perception shifts.
It’s a miraculous shift.
And here’s the point: the very act of surrendering, putting your offering on the altar, asking for help and guidance, takes the emphasis off of the very issue itself! In the act of surrender you very often realize that this superimportanttotallycrucial thing that you just HAD to have or know about or do has become irrelevant. It’s altered because it no longer holds the importance you assigned it. It’s altered because by crying uncle, by saying “I give up. Universe, show me what you’ve got,” you release the need to control the uncontrollable. You waste no more time worrying, and instead believe — truly believe — that the situation will work out exactly as it should. So there is no point in wasting the emotional energy stressing.
Once you can get to the point where you truly let go of what you think you want/need and trust that it’s coming to you, you can go on about your business. You don’t need to worry about how. Or when.
I really like Jack Hayford’s explanation of the altar/alter issue (admittedly from a Christian perspective, but I think it can be applied more widely): Altars represent the occasion and place where we have had a personal encounter with God. We may not always be able to make a physical altar, but there can be one established in our hearts… There is a place of “altaring” and a price of altering. Altars have a price–God intends that something be “altered” in us when we come to altars. To receive the promise means we make way for the transformation… Be encouraged to let your heart receive the promise and embrace wherever you are right now, even if it seems much different that what you hope for. If the Lord is there with you, He can make it work, but it will require the building of an altar on your part to say, I’m willing, as well as your trust that God is greater than your preconception of how it’s supposed to be.
We make way for the transformation. We don’t question whether or not it will happen; we trust that whatever is truly meant for us will come to pass. We build the altar, place our desires upon it, and have faith that God/Spirit/The Universe will make sure that we get what we’re supposed to get when we’re supposed to get it. And, newsflash: it may not be exactly what you asked for! But it’s exactly what you need.
Will things always work out the way you want them to? Nope. Will you be disappointed? Probably. But here’s the good news: very often the thing that you asked for, the thing you put on the altar in your heart, was too small for you. Maybe it was going to send you down the wrong path. Maybe it was going to hurt. Maybe it was just not meant for you. That relationship you desperately want back, that job you have to have. Not for you. Why? Because there’s something BETTER in store for you. When you’re faced with the disappointment of not getting what you asked for, stop and remind yourself: if it’s not this, it’s something better. Return your thoughts back to love. A changed plan or altered course means that something better is on the way. Try not to be frustrated with the process. Be patient. In the sage words of those elderly rockers The Rolling Stones, “You can’t always get what you want. But if you try, sometimes you might find you get what you need.” You have to try. You have to continue to use that altar in your heart and KNOW that good things are headed you way. Maybe not the things you envisioned, but the things that will make you shine.
Sat nam, friends.