Recently sharing with a friend and spiritual mentor, I learned an incredible lesson about surrender as the pathway to healing through my almost nine-month-old dog, Shalom.
When Shalom came into my life, at twelve weeks old, her name was already written on my heart. An integral part of my well-being, Peace tops my daily self-care list.
After praying about getting another dog, I felt confident Shalom would be a crucial part of my own healing journey. As an empath, animals provide a tremendous amount of peace to my spirit.
However, Peace and healing may not always appear the way we expected.
Far from “peaceful”, Shalom has her own issues, and challenges me often beyond my patience. Yet in the very place I struggled the most with Shalom, God chose to bring a unique and powerful lesson.
an invitation to surrender
My lesson on surrender as a pathway to healing began with sharing my deepest struggle with my friend.
As we have no fenced in yard, anytime we go outside, Shalom is leashed. Walking properly on a leash without pulling has been our biggest challenge.
Despite all the typical tips, collars, harnesses, and discipline, Shalom, now over fifty pounds, remained all but unmanageable on a leash.
As my spiritual mentor, my friend always prays for God to reveal a particular area for our discussion, and all that came up for me was what I considered a ridiculous picture of me yanking Shalom in line on the leash.
Inviting me to sit with that image in my mind, my friend began guiding me through a series of questions which revealed God’s invitation to surrender through the picture of me with Shalom.
“Be still, and know that I am God!”
Surrender Means “Let Go”
In awe over the name, “Shalom” placed on my heart by God for my new dog, she felt impressed to remark, “God definitely has a purpose in placing Shalom in your life.”
While most everyone knows the Hebrew word Shalom means “peace”, not all realize the richness of the word.
When wishing someone “Shalom”, you are conferring more than peace upon them. You are in essence saying, “May you be whole, complete, healed.”
Sitting with the reminder of the significance of Shalom’s name and purpose in my life, I finally admitted my disappointment in not seeing the fulfillment of this beautiful promise.
As we sat quietly, another word rose to the surface of my mind, “surrender”. At the same moment, my friend quoted Psalm 46:10. “Be still” in Hebrew implies, “letting go” or “surrender”.
In order to surrender something, we must first “Let Go.”
surrender as the pathway to healing
Returning to the picture in my mind of me yanking Shalom around on the leash, my friend asked me to place Jesus in the picture. On which end of the leash would I place Him?
At first, I placed Him in my place, “leading”, while I pulled in the opposite direction. Agreeing with the obvious, she then told me to switch places and asked me which felt closer to what I was experiencing in my daily efforts at obtaining peace.
Shockingly, me pulling Jesus around fit my actual experience.
My efforts at obtaining the coveted “peace” I thought I needed, involved pushing relentlessly through my day, with my agenda, so that once everything was in place, I could experience peace.
Which resulted in days filled with frustration at any tiny interruption, whether from man or God, creating anything but peace.
Thinking back to my continual yanking on Shalom’s leash, only to have her pull all the more, I realized my yanking represented my insistence things went “my way”.
As any good dog trainer will tell you, the harder you pull on the leash, the more a dog pulls in the opposite direction. But if you release the tight grip, the dog’s resistance lessens.
While Jesus never uses force with me, my continual insistence on going my way each day in my quest for peace creates resistance to the very thing He attempts to provide.
Gripping my own agenda for achieving peace, wholeness, and healing, rather than allowing Jesus to change my direction, I yank Him along to mine, forfeiting an unexpected encounter with peace and wholeness.
Surrender Invites Wholeness and Healing
When I accept God’s invitation to surrender as the pathway to healing, I open my hands in welcome, releasing my grip and receiving His Peace for me.
By surrendering my way to God, I learn:
God’s Shalom comes from accepting exactly where I am right now.
God’s Shalom provides wholeness and healing when I surrender my conditions for peace.
God’s Shalom shows up in unexpected ways.
God’s Shalom may come clothed in interruption, loss, even pain.
surrender leads to shalom
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
In order to accept surrender as the pathway to healing, I must release my perspective on what peace, wholeness, and healing look like. Because although Jesus gives Shalom, His Shalom is nothing like my expectation of it.
Often the way to peace, wholeness, and healing winds through darkness, difficulty, and pain.
Yet, in the surrendering of our will and way, we allow Shalom to lead us into the paths of Peace seen only through open hands.