One aspect routinely missing from Western medicine is acknowledging the spirit and its importance to our wellbeing.
In a society that claims the only path to success is to hustle and grind your way to the top, the spirit of surrendering seems counterintuitive. For example, I had big career plans when I became a nurse. I knew exactly the path I would take to become a nurse practitioner.
However, life has a way of teaching us valuable lessons with or without our permission.
In September 2016, I worked in a trauma/neuro intensive care unit and loved watching the body heal. Yet, I had this intense knowing it was time to leave hospital nursing. Without clarity, I worked my last hospital shift on September 6, 2016.
Two days later, my step-father received a stage IV lung cancer diagnosis. He was 78 years old and opted out of treatment. He said, “I want to spend my time with my family.” At that moment, my next nursing job began as his hospice nurse. For the next three weeks, I stayed with him around the clock, and my mother and I would take turns on the night shifts.
One night, I sat in the winged-back chair next to him, listening to the whirling sound of his oxygen machine. I reflected on his unconditional love for me. The ICU nurse in me knew the time had come to communicate my deepest gratitude to my step-father.
It was one of the most intimate moments in my life. I thanked him for always loving me unconditionally, continually being proud of me, and being my biggest fan. I told him he was an amazing father to my sisters and me. When I went to hug him, he said, “That was the nicest thing anyone has ever told me.” I wept off and on the remainder of that night. On October 5, 2016, at 2:35 am, he passed so peacefully that I never stepped back into the ICU.
In the years that followed his death, the plan for my career was not clear to me. I have stayed in nursing, but not a traditional path. Always helping others, but without any true clarity of the path before. Then in 2019, I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid arthritis, and in 2021 a diagnosis of Long-Covid made any job in a traditional nursing setting impossible. My physical body cried out.
The word surrender often carries a negative connotation for a world demanding to be noticed, heard, and liked. In fact, surrendering can be viewed as settling into a comfortable space. However, this is not the surrender I am encouraging.
Conversely, surrender means letting go of who we think we should be, what we think we should be doing in our careers, and where we think we should be headed in life.
Instead, being open to whatever or whoever crosses our path. It is approaching life from a place of curiosity versus an all-out charge at achievement. It is allowing enough space in our lives for spontaneity to enjoy each day, love our families deeply, and surrender to the present.
Surrendering is vital to our mental health and wellbeing.
Today, we are more digitally entrenched in false connections through social media than ever. Breaking this cycle is hard work. However, I encourage you to set a surrender goal for this next week. It doesn’t matter how small the goal is; just set one.
Commit to putting down your device, turning off the television, games, or computer, and have some real-world Facetime with the people you love or at least like!
Surrender and let the magic of life unfold before your eyes.