top of page

Surrender & Shame (and Math)

A decade ago or so, I wrote a post called "I Don't Know Jack." It's knocking around the archives here somewhere. What I wrote reflected my really not giving two bits about how others thought I didn't know enough to 'be spiritual' or my spiritual-ness didn't fit within standard forms or norms of it. In another older post, I countered the then-repeated feedback about being spiritually naive because I didn't know the things or present myself in a way that was recognizable or could be recognized by 'spiritual people' as 'legitimate'. Back in the day I was confident in my not knowing. It felt good not be tethered to the restrictions of expressions and to include, "be willing to forget what you think you know."

Now that I'm in a strikingly difficult situation and every.single.thing is saying, "Surrender," I'm really wishing I could be confident in my not knowing. I thought I knew what surrender was. I was certain that because I'd given my life over to things that weren't mine or of me, that I'd surrendered. I'd never asked to be this way; to have my body and psyche pulled apart, poured into, made into some kind of Christed one, a Messenger without a Message, Voice for the Voiceless: whether She be God or an Indigenous woman-girl dropped into an unmarked grave.

During the past few weeks, I've learned at that is, indeed, surrender but-wait-there's more! It doesn't come with free shipping, though I'm told it will bring freedom. Surrender is following God's motherfluffin' direction every.single.time. So, "Wait for God" means Wait.for.God. "Trust in Me. Trust Me," means stop trying to make yourself safe; you're going in circles when you try to drive the bus: I drive, you don't. "Be Still" means be.fucking.still. "Living in Trust" means give it all over to Me--the Me that is not asking you to trust but telling you to so that you can get to where I need you to be.

The God-stuff:

Feel shamed? Feel shame. Scared? Why not try not being that way? Don't know how? Watch who I drop right smack onto your path! You can't know but you sure can see!

Can't control the flow? You betcha: you don't, I do.

Be still and Know. Know that you are safe? Gotta move again? Maybe, maybe not. That's not for you to know. That's not the Gno-wing, that's not the Knowing I'm seeking to impart, and every other person I'm placing on your path right now is telling you the same bloody thing for the same bloody reason. Know that it's going to unfold how it's going to unfold. When he said, "Why not make it easier on yourself," I was the asker. Be still.

So, all things--including nearly every cell in my body and the spaces between those cells know the truth: what's to come isn't in the fear. Nothing has ever added up until it finally did. And until I got beaten up a bit, I knew it. It's why I made myself homeless the first time; because who does that--except someone who trusts. Someone who trusts that inner-driver. It's why when bullets nearly parted my hair, I could be Still and Know. It's why when my mountain called me home, I only said, "Well, how the hell is that going to happen," and was here 10 days later.

I'm reminded about math. When I was younger, I hated math. Numbers were foreign to me and I was angry that they could make me feel so dumb. It was clear they had a job to do because receipts, dontcha know, but once I got to algebra, my brain looked askance at solving for the unknown. Bless my father, the physicist, who tried to teach me the finer points of trigonometry and geometry and how to know what 'x' actually is even if you can't really solve for it or know for sure it exists--because 'unknown'. On more than one occasion (many of them, I'm sure), he must have wondered how the genius part of his genetics missed mine during development. I just couldn't get it. Nearly every time, I cried because I didn't know it, couldn't know it, and wouldn't know it.

I didn't truly understand trig and geometry, though I'd learned by rote 'the rules' one took to find the solutions (along with the answers in the back of the book), until I played my first game of pool when I was a freshman in college. There was a moment, similar to what you might see in a TV show scene, when leaning into a shot (and a good one!) I just 'got it'. Equations didn't line up over the balls in a nifity visual but the balls hit and rolled in slo-motion, damn-near stop action-like, and the realization came with that striking clarity. "Ooooohhhhh," turned to, "Oh.Shit!That's it!" And I felt like a genius then. I watched that unfold later when this girl who couldn't manage higher math in high school did the differential equations homework for am architecture student who chose the wrong time to take a hit of acid. I just knew.

I know a lot. The ways of holiness, the Root of The Medicines, roll through me presenting me with things that have been planted within me and flow forth unbidden and uninhibited. I've been told on more than one occasion that, "You're certainty is frightening." And I've responded, "It's not my certainty."

And here I am, having shoved myself in to a box of fear I can't seem to get out of, competence and certainty be damned. I'm certain of nothing in this unfolding, including my safety, despite that's the recurring message: It's fine, you're fine, you'll be fine. "All is well, Alll is Well, and All Will Be Well. That may, indeed, be the case from the perspective of those outside this walk. However, in the process that's not how it feels.

One of the more impelling forces for the fear in this instance of surrender is the violation of a social contract that comes with it. Those of us who are called out and set apart become accustomed to contrasting social norms. We don't go with the common flow. We are set into motion by the contradictions needed for others to see the contrast between the most obvious and the most 'hidden'.

However, as isolated as we feel and as personal as our individuated processes are, our own journey impacts others and when faced with violating an agreement I have with a landlord, one who's monetary affairs (and need for security) are effected by my spiritual ones and my own perception of her judgment around that violation, there is deep shame coupled with the fear. Shame that I'm not doing enough, being responsible enough, actually being enough; shame that I'm actually causing harm, that to follow one direction I'm choosing to harm another. I won't swat flies but here I am impacting another in a similar manner.

Most of us going through these profound experiences aren't offered the opportunity to live in cloisters designed to support us through this. Many, including myself, don't have access to community-at-large who are willing or able to support us through this. Our roles are unique and, in part because we don't live in the manner the main-stream thinks we should, we are left outside support systems that can provide for us. It's one of the reasons that I was determined that no one that crossed my path would walk this alone. It's also the reason that I'm filled with awe and gratitude when grace-filled people appear on my path and say, "I'm here. Let me teach you something new about yourself. Let me unconfuse you for a hot second." "Let's just breathe together. You can't see that you'll be okay, that you are okay. I can."

I'm pretty fucking super-human sometimes but I've got my own stupid-human tricks, too. Just like finally learning math at a pool table, I need to see it to believe it, to Know it. He and She and They and All of Creation is telling, not asking, me to trust. Telling me, demanding of me and, truth be told, They're right--everything within me knows it. It's why particular usually-life-saving things, safety-providing actions make me feel as if I'm drowning. They're like intentionally waterboarding myself, a contradiction in living if there ever was one.

What I'm in the midst of is not just following God's direction, it's a command. Straight-up, no-frills, no excuses and no other way but through. It can't be argued with (though I try) or denied (I haven't even bothered) because, ultimately, that command isn't an external one. It's within every fiber of our beings, no matter the shame or non-sensicality of it. In another context, the One giving the command would be responded to with a, "Sir! Yes, Sir!," and others would respond in kind because in the team setting, everyone else is with you. In this? They come but after you, we, lead by the example of going through it.

There is deep, deep gratitude for those that help hold this vessel as the boundaries of security and surety around her crumble again; those that can hold the contradictions between faith and shame and love and fear and trust and doubt and bring their own faithful tenderness when necessary to help her trust. That's love, y'all. That's love.

22 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page