Surrender, or…


We don’t like that word. I don’t like that word. I really don’t like it applied to me.

I’m a very independent person. I do things on my own. I like to be self-sufficient. And the word “surrender” says to me things that I don’t want.

Because when you use the word “surrender”, it implies that someone went out and conquered you. It’s that old image, in the movies and the books, when someone is completely surrounded and outmanned and outgunned by the enemy, and the enemy says, “Surrender!” and if the hero actually, you know, goes along with it, even to spare someone else’s life, we can’t help but think a little less of him for it. And I like the whole “defiance unto death” thing. Yes, I am a hopeless romantic that way, but the idea that “we can’t win, but we’re not gonna go down without a fight” is terribly attractive to me. Because dying is not the same as surrendering. And to have never bent one’s will to evil is kind of awesome.

And on one hand, this is right. We cannot give in to hate, or fear, or ignorance, or selfishness, or anything else of that kind. Our minds are our own, and we have a choice. We can say, “oh, it won’t hurt anyone”, or use the end to justify the means, but we know in our heart of hearts it doesn’t really work like that. We know that the means can spoil the end, and that the person we hurt may simply be ourselves. Slowly.

And so I say, “I don’t surrender! I don’t give up! I’m in charge! I have the choice! Power to me! To the End!” And if I am honest, I know I have gone too far.

I have surrendered. I am surrendered. I have a lord and master. There is someone who is higher than me. There is someone who has authority over me. There is a will to which I have submitted. And I should not be ashamed of it. Why am I?

I believe so strongly in thinking for myself, and making my own decisions. I believe so strongly that it’s less about rebelling and more about following the right path. That what people assume is good or bad is not always true, and that I should not bow to the prejudices and predispositions of the world. That one must discern things for oneself, and that if I submit to another human being, it is always with the understanding that said human being remains worthy of my submission. Love may be unconditional (love should always be unconditional), but submission is not. I must not submit to cruelty, in any of its forms. I must not submit to irresponsibility, to oppression, or to injustice. I must never submit to sin.

But I must submit. It’s how I’m made. I suppose I could submit to myself.

After all, nobody knows me like I do. Nobody knows what situation I’m in. I’m intelligent, I’m talented, I’ve got necessary skills, I’m educated. In all, I should be qualified to rule myself, correct? All I need do is come up with a set of rules and standards that seem fair to me, and I should be just fine.

Well. Except that I’ve been wrong before. Except that there are large amounts of the world that I don’t know about, billions of perspectives I’ve never shared. Except that the future is a complete unknown. Except that I have faults. Except that I make mistakes. Except that even in my limited experience, I’ve seen people do things that must have made perfect sense at the time, according to their reason and discernment and wisdom, and end up in singularly horrible circumstances.

Except that I don’t know everything, that I can’t know everything, that I’m human, and limited, and not even the most brilliant minds understand what really makes humans tick, and without that…

To submit only to myself is to fail before I start. If the premise is faulty, the result cannot be true. If the foundation is imperfect, that house cannot stand. No amount of reason or logic or love or hard work will set it right.

If there is a foundation stronger than mine, I should stand upon it. If there is a love truer than mine, I must imitate it. If there is a wisdom deeper than mine, I must follow it. If there is a will more perfect than mine, I must submit to it. All the instruments of the orchestra follow the first violin, but the first violin follows the tuning fork, and the tuning fork obeys the laws of physics. And thus the symphony is begun.

If my God is holy, if he is perfect in love, in justice, in mercy, in wisdom, in understanding, then I am right to submit to him. I am not the orchestra, I must tune to the first violin. I am the house, I must rest upon the foundation, and my walls must all be plumb. If I am the equation, every variable must be true. My physical existence must submit to the laws of the universe, my spiritual life must submit to the will of God. I have no reason to be ashamed.

Because the one time you’re happy the hero surrendered? When the attacking army was the good guy.