Earlier this year, my wife and I had our first child, a beautiful baby girl named Alora. She’s brought my little family so much joy. There’s no better feeling than holding her in my arms and telling her how much I care about her. But sometimes God brings us the greatest blessings through the hardest trials.
My wife suffered in labor for over 36 hours. I mean it when I say suffered. Every few minutes I would hear her cry out as another contraction pierced her body. There I was in the waiting room, and I felt utterly helpless. My inner control freak was on high alert. I had no idea if my wife or my new daughter would make it through the birth.
These were some of the hardest hours of my life. I know what you’re thinking, “Hey Joseph, what about your wife?” True, I can’t imagine the pain she was going through. But that doesn’t change the fact that I was the most scared and helpless I’d ever been.
The thing about men is that we don’t like feeling out of control. We’re told that losing control is a sign of weakness. We want to make sure our homes are safe. We want to make sure our employees stay focused all the time. Men are born control freaks.
Of course, we’re not in total control. Like I learned that day at the hospital, I was nearly irrelevant. The more I tried to control the situation, the more anxious I became. It was a horrible spiral.
Eventually, my wife’s cries of pain became too much. I had to step outside and confront God. In tears, I begged him to save my family. On my knees, I cried out for God to provide the safety I couldn’t produce.
At this moment, I learned a valuable lesson about surrender. It’s a lesson that all control freaks can apply to their lives. There are actually two kinds of surrender – one shows weakness but the other shows strength.
If you can understand the two kinds of surrender, you, too, can overcome anxiety and your inner control freak even in times of incredible pressure.
Men are often taught that life is like a war. You play sports to win and lose. You run your business to outperform your competitor. Like a soldier on the battlefield, surrender is not an option. Losers surrender. And men like us don’t want to be losers.
I don’t recommend physical surrender to anyone. I don’t want to give up or hand over my life’s work to someone else. I don’t want to sit by as someone else makes bad decisions for my family. And I definitely never would have told the doctor, “Well, you tried helping my wife. Let’s just head home.”
Physical surrender means giving up when you should continue fighting. Physical surrender is a show of weakness. Sadly, it’s the only kind of surrender men are taught.
Spiritual surrender is completely different than physical surrender. This is the kind of surrender I learned during my day at the hospital. A man must spiritually surrender when he knows the situation is outside his control.
Otherwise, he becomes anxious. Anxiety happens when we attempt to control the uncontrollable. Your kid stays out past curfew and you don’t know where they are. That causes anxiety. You follow the ups and downs of the stock market every day. That causes anxiety. The more a man tries to fix an unfixable situation, the more anxious he becomes.
So, even if I had been in the doctor’s room, I wouldn’t have been able to help my wife. I have no medical training. I probably would have made things worse. Therefore, I had to allow the doctors to take control. More importantly, I had to give over control to God.
Spiritual surrender means stepping aside so that someone more powerful can enter the situation. There is no one more powerful than God.
The Bible calls this emptying ourselves.
In Phillippians, Paul says he pours himself out like a drink offering. He admits his weaknesses and doesn’t try to pretend he’s in control. He works hard but knows his limits. In 2 Corinthians, he even says, “When I am weak, then I am strong.” Why is Paul strong when he is weak? It’s because God’s grace is able to enter his life. God is able to work his power in the places where Paul doesn’t have control, in the places of weakness.
It sounds like a contradiction, doesn’t it? But this is how God works. He chooses the timid, the stutterers, and the poor to complete his good work. God can only work through you and remove your anxiety if you surrender to him.
Say the Prayer of Surrender
If you are facing a total lack of control, I have a prayer that you can say right now. It’s the same prayer I spoke when I didn’t know how my daughter’s birth was going to end up. It’s a prayer you can use during times of crisis and uncertainty.
Say, “Father, I don’t think I have more to give, but take it if it’s there.”
Surrender what you have. Then surrender a little bit more. It’s time to confront your inner control freak. It’s time to overcome anxiety.
Key Takeaway There are two kinds of surrender, physical and spiritual. Men become control freaks when they only focus on physical surrender, but embracing spiritual surrender will bring peace and healing to your life.
If you resonated with the Prayer of Surrender, then you need to get my 5 Minute Strategy To Obliterate Stress & Worry Fast. This simple spiritual technique helps your body reach a calm state of mind and shifts your mindset before (or after) a long day's work.
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About Joseph Warren
Joseph Warren is a Christian Speaker, Podcast Host and Spiritual Coach. Joseph Warren offers Spiritual Coaching to Christian Business Owners who somehow find themselves in a spiritual rut. In just 90 days, he helps them avoid expensive divorces, break free from addiction, restore broken family relationships, and start living their Higher Purpose!