I recall Oprah once talking about a very difficult time in her life, when she was battling it out with the meat industry in court over a comment she had made on her talk show, and she was feeling extremely overwhelmed and heavy with the stress of the lawsuit and all the demands of her very busy life. She was also heavy physically – all the stressors had triggered her poor eating habits and she had gained an enormous amount of weight. She was angry and depressed, weary and unspeakably worried.
She shared how she was out walking one day, and while she was walking she was praying and positioning her spirit into a state of complete surrender. She wanted to cast all her cares on God. She just couldn’t carry any of it a second longer, and in her brokenness she literally cried out loud, “God, I surrender it all! I surrender it all to You.” In that very moment, Oprah said that she felt a sudden and immediate peace fall upon her. The weight lifted, and she felt her spirit become free. No fear. No burden. No worry. Just a beautiful sense of joy, a lightness that came only from letting go and trusting God. Just minutes after that moment of genuine surrender, Oprah received a call that the lawsuit was over, she had won.
Surrendering is the best kind of giving up. It’s not giving up and throwing in the towel. It’s giving up the stress and worry of trying to control it all. It’s acknowledging that God is in control, and He is worthy of our trust, because He is a loving and all-powerful God, intimately concerned about us if we will let Him lead us in our life’s matters. His ways are higher than our ways, He sees beyond what we can see from our current perspective, and He can do what we can not do. In that trust, there is supreme peace. In that surrender, there is opportunity for every kind of solution, healing, and miracle.
I’ll be frank. Life is challenging. It can be downright painful and grueling at times. We all go through seasons. Divorce, financial strain, loss of loved ones, challenges with both our young and grown children, work pressures – we all experience great challenges in our lifetime. We also have great responsibilities – our children, our spouses, our clients depend on us! There is no room for laziness, escape, or giving up. So how can we “let go” without “giving up”? How can we surrender our cares, without shirking our responsibilities?
Truly, it’s a mindset. Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Cease from thinking that life is unfair, or so-and-so is to blame. Cease the negative talk. Guard your mind and take hold of your perspective. Make the decision to trust in God with a joyful optimism, after all, God IS hope. Think of what good things can happen in the day, as opposed to dreading or becoming anxious about all the possible things that can go wrong. Tame your tongue to speak what you WANT, not what you don’t want. Speak well of others. Infuse life and light into your situation. Refuse to gossip. Stop sharing your bad-news stories, stop re-living it. Start writing your good-news story. Where do you want your life to go from here? What will you do to get to where you want to go?
Talk to Oprah, talk to any olympian, talk to any high-level executive or businessperson who has maintained integrity alongside joy and success in their work and home life… talk to any experienced life coach or seasoned pastor, and you will hear it again and again: you MUST MIND YOUR MIND. Your life is shaped by your actions. Your actions are fueled by your thoughts. Your thoughts are determined by your beliefs. What are you believing for your life? And in WHOM do you trust to guide you and help you in your life?
This kind of “inner work” is essential to healthcare. Tending to your spirit. Healing your broken brains, as Dr. Hyman would say. (This also entails detoxifying and eating anti-inflammatory foods to assist with our brain function, our clear thinking, and our positive mood… but that’s another blog…). Surrendering the stress by trusting in God with a steadfast faith. Be consistent with your hope. Don’t waiver, don’t be moved by the challenges that life surely brings. People lie, people cheat, people steal, people let you down… we suffer loss, we suffer injustice, we suffer injury and pain…. but there is a peace that no one can take, and that God provides without fail. I’ll take peace through all my life’s challenges over any other material thing, any day. I’ll take joy through life’s difficulties not just for myself, but so I can be a joy to others. Am I ever grumpy? Of course! I can unknowingly hold onto my problems too tightly, too long, so much so that my “hands” become too tied up to receive God’s joy. Just the other weekend I was so burdened with stressors and the neck tension that comes with it, that I failed to enjoy a family weekend at my mother’s house. My intention was to bless my mother with my cheerful presence, but instead, I think I was the downer, and I can’t take that weekend back. Back at home the following morning, in my quiet time, I fell on my knees and surrendered it all. It’s not fair to those around us to be brought down by our doom and gloom because we are carrying too much and refusing to let it go. Trade in your stressors for God’s joyful peace. He gladly takes it from us. He lifts us up if we let Him.
Do the things that help. POSITIVE activities that help. Acupuncture. Massage. Yoga. Do your stretches. Walk around the park. Dance. Kickbox. Run. Engage in your favorite hobby or craft. Eat a healthy meal. At the core of us all, though, is our spirit. So take the time to pray. To speak the things you know in your spirit to be true. That God is good. That He works all things out for good to those who are called according to His purpose. That His plans for you are good, the path He has laid out for your life is good – and you will not fear or grow weary as that path takes you through dark valleys with shady people or arid deserts with lack and dryness all around you… speak into your life that that your leaf will be green… that you shall not cease from yielding fruit… and that your joy shall indeed be made full.
It comes down to belief. What will you believe for your life? As a man thinketh, so shall he become…
Think great things.
Cast all your cares, for He cares for you.
Be of good cheer, for He has overcome the world.