For the past seven months, I have been part of a coaching group that supports me in attaining some personal health goals. Recently, the group went through a significant and sudden change in how it is organized and how it operates.
When I initially heard about the change, I was upset. The group seemed fine just the way it was, and I did not see a need for change. In fact, I liked my group; I was comfortable with it.
But ultimately, the change was not up to me. So, I had to decide if I wanted to trust the powers at be and adapt to the change, or protest the change and leave the group.
While I mourned the loss of my former group, I decided to accept the change. And while I still miss many things about my old group, the elements that made it so helpful remain: support, encouragement, and accountability. The structural change also helped me see that over the last several months, I have grown stronger and more confident in my own abilities. I don’t need the group in the same way that I needed it when I first started. Perhaps I would not have realized this had the group not changed.
Life is Full of Change, Uncertainty, and Unknowns
No matter how well prepared we are, no matter how much we plan and organize, life is full of unexpected change, uncertainty, and unknowns.
Sometimes, we welcome change, such as in the natural and liturgical seasons. By the end of one season, who is excited for the transition into the next? We anticipate change, like the ones we experience in the weather. We keep an umbrella in the car and pack an extra sweater in our bag.
Then, there are changes that surprise us and shake us out of our comfort zone, like the change to my coaching group, moving houses, or starting a new school. And of course, there are those experiences that change our reality in drastic ways, such as a serious illness, a job loss, or the death of a loved one.
Moving through Change
When change (or an uncertain or unknown situation) comes out of nowhere, when it catches us off guard, we can easily feel overwhelmed. Knowing intellectually that change is possible does not make it easier to deal with when it happens. We still experience shock. We still go through stages of grief. We still feel various emotions.
No matter what the change is—good or bad, big or small—we need time to adjust, reach a point of acceptance, and surrender it to the Lord.
But how do we let go of the familiar or what used to be? How do we surrender? How do we trust that maybe the change, while unexpected, will draw us closer to God and deepen our interior life?
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Prayers for Surrender
Below is a list of Scripture verses, prayers, and spiritual books to accompany us, as we experience life changes (big or small) and as we desire to surrender every aspect of our lives more fully to the Lord.
Joshua 1:9 // “Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Job 1:21 // “… the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”
Psalm 56:3 // “… when I am afraid, I put my trust in you.”
Psalm 62 // A song of trust in God alone
Jeremiah 17:7-8 // “Blessed are those who trust in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. They shall be like a tree planted by water, sending out its roots by the stream. It shall not fear when heat comes, and its leaves shall stay green; in the year of drought it is not anxious, and it does not cease to bear fruit.”
John 14:27 // “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you … Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.”
Romans 8:28 // “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.”
Romans 12:1-2 // “I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
1 Peter 5:7 // “Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.”
The Lord’s Prayer, or The Our Father, may be the most popular prayer of surrender. In it, we trustingly pray for God’s will to be done—whatever it may be.
The Suscipe was written by St. Ignatius of Loyola. Traditionally, it is prayed at the end of a Spiritual Exercises retreat, but it can be prayed at any point in life, when there is a need for greater entrustment and surrender to God.
Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will,
All I have and call my own. You have given all to me. To you, Lord, I return it. Everything is yours; do with it what you will. Give me only your love and your grace, that is enough for me.
Thomas Merton, an American Trappist monk, penned a prayer of surrender. It is considered a prayer of abandonment.
The Surrender Novena is a nine-day prayer that asks Jesus to “take care of everything.” It was written by Servant of God Dolindo Ruotolo, an Italian priest, stigmatist, and for a time, Saint Pio’s spiritual director. In the novena’s daily prayers, it is as if Jesus is speaking directly to the praying person, and she responds by surrendering herself into His care.
Spiritual Books on Surrender
- Abandonment to Divine Providence by Jean-Pierre de Caussade
- Everything is Yours: How Giving God Your Whole Heart Changes Your Whole Life by Kris Camealy
- Into Your Hands, Father: Abandoning Ourselves to the God Who Loves Us by Father Wilfrid Stinissen
- Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence: The Secret of Peace and Happiness by Father Jean Baptiste Saint-Jure and Blessed Claude de la Colombière
How have you learned to entrust God with unexpected changes that come your way? How have you grown in your ability to surrender to the Lord?
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