This week on the blog, we thought we’d answer a question recently sent to us via email about surrender. No matter who you are or what stage of life you’re in, true surrender is something we all need to understand!
Dear Mark and Jill,
When you guys share your story, you talk a lot about surrender. Can you tell me what it means to surrender?
Thank you so much for having the courage to ask this question.
Surrender is a total heart and soul decision. It is not behavior management. We often like to put it this way: Who is in the drivers seat of your life? When Jesus is the person in that seat (and not us), we are then, and only then, living a life of surrender.
Here are 3 steps I had to take in my own journey of surrender:
I had to accept that I was truly powerless. I had to accept I made a huge mess and I could fix none of it. I had to accept that I would trust God and walk wherever He led me with a good attitude and trusting mindset. I had to accept that I needed to trust Him even if I didn’t fully understand Him or what He was doing. Surrender was my only choice for moving forward because I’d been stuck in my own internal battle for a very long time.
When I surrendered, I was a truly an empty man. This change was obvious to me and to others.
I fully repented of being the god of my own life and I stopped in many ways. I stopped frantically trying to figure things out. I stopped looking to myself to fix my mistakes. I stopped being the leader of my own life. I stopped arguing with God. I stopped trying to control.
I had been self-serving in everything and had to simply stop. When I waved the white flag of surrender, there was an incredible release in my heart and a majority of the shame I was experiencing went away.
I made a decision to keep hold of the hand of daddy God, no matter what. This impacted defensiveness. Anger. Hostility. Selfishness. It impacted my commitment to respect and love as Jesus loves me. This “keeping” fueled me to trust God, seek to understand who He truly is, and to keep allowing Him to lead me each and every day.
In the Bible, we read, “My child, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways” (Proverbs 23:26). When I was living a life of selfishness, blowing up my marriage and making decisions blinded by pride, I had not given God my heart. I was hanging on to it with my own hands. I was demanding my own way.
But I’ll never forget the day. It was Easter Sunday 2012, when I heard God clearly speak to me saying, “Mark, if you will trust me for the mess, I will take care of everything else.” I was desperate for peace. I knew I’d made a mess and I wanted that mess to be gone. I knew that surrender was the only way forward.
Were there things in my marriage I wanted to see change? Absolutely. Was I scared to recommit? Absolutely. Was it still the right thing to do? Absolutely.
Surrender changed who I am. It gave me an inner peace I’ve never had before. It has transformed me from the inside out.
A life of surrender is worth it. A life of surrender is where we find hope and purpose. And a life of surrender is how we experience true freedom.
P.S. If you’d like to learn more about surrender, you’ll see it lived out on the pages of our No More Perfect Marriages book.
You can also check out Andrew Murray’s Absolute Surrender book and Barb Roose’s Surrendered Bible Study. They are both excellent and were an important part of my surrender journey.
No More Perfect Marriages Challenge
Our 4 week (1 email a week) No More Perfect Marriages e-mail challenge provides inspiration, encouragement and motivation directly to your inbox right when you need it most!
My marriage is an absolute mess, toxic, walking on egg shells situation. I would covet your prayers. I can only work on me with my counselor. My husband won’t go. I’m desperate for God to intervene yet I know I must trust Him
What does surrender look like? My husbands sex and porn addictions and multiple affairs have cost us all SO SO SO dearly!! The losses are far too many to count!!!! My husband is a complete fool! He has no regard for God- fidelity, marriage, me, our kids…. A selfish , sick, & sorry excuse for a Christian man! Only God can save him! He’s betrayed me our whole marriage of 33 years! And our family! He has opened the door for the enemy to come in and steal, devastate, , and destroy! And he sure has!!!!! May God save us all!! Will my messed up husband ever “get it”? and surrender?? Good question! This would take a MIRACLE for sure!!! How can husbands who swore to protect and love us hurt their wives and families this much???? And get away with it? We’re the ones paying for his sin!!!!!!! Wedding vows and promises before God Almighty!!! There is no love in his heart!!!! He doesn’t even think he has a problem! He’s moved out and is doing NOTHING to get well! May God help us!!! I’ve surrendered to the point that I don’t even care anymore! It’s out of my hands and I have no clue what’s next! The one who needs to surrender most doesn’t even see it!!!!!! Wow! Any advice?
In our marriage coaching, we work with just as many women who break their marriage vows as men. It’s not a guy problem. It’s a human problem.
The challenge for those of us who don’t break our wedding vows is to identify how we contribute to the dysfunction of our marriage. My sins of pride, control, and a critical spirit were just as damaging to our marriage as my husband’s infidelity. Sin is sin and it all breaks God’s heart. So we all have surrendering to do.