Surrender…It’s So Very Daily

I’ve been blessed to contribute devotionals to Daily Guideposts since 2003. The 2015 edition contains a Surrender Series I wrote about my word from 2012. A few days ago, Guideposts featured one of my devotionals from the series on their website.

In this devotional, I mention Al-AnonAl-Anon is a 12-Step program for people like me who have a friend or family member who is an alcoholic.

So many times I return to Step One.

“We admitted we were powerless over alcohol–that our lives had become unmanageable.”

Surrender, for me, means admitting I’m powerless. Step One affects every part of my life.

I’m not only powerless over alcohol, I’m powerless over everything and everyone except my choices and my responses.

I’m powerless over people I love.

I’m powerless over others’ opinions of me.

I’m even powerless over whether or not the sun shines. 🙂

Moment-by-moment, I’m reminded that I’m not in control–even on my daily walks.

Last week Clyde (our Lab) and I walked the loop through the woods behind our house. We always circle the loop ten times. I noticed Kitty Thelma watching us.

“Kitty, kitty, come on. Walk with us.”

She swished her tail like she had better things to do.

Each time we passed her, the same thing happened. I begged her to come. She refused.

On loop number eight, she sharpened her claws.

Oh, good! Maybe she’s thinking about it.

I waited on her.

Nope. She stayed put.

Which brought me back to Surrender.

I’ve spent a lot of energy trying to change people.  

Just like I’d done with Thelma–I was even trying to control my cat!

On my last loop, I smiled at her, but I didn’t try to change her mind.

Leaving the woods, I saw the sun peeking through the fall leaves.

Thank You, Lord. It’s not my job to change anyone. (Not even Thelma. :))

I’m just supposed to work on myself.

Have you ever tried to change someone? Pointless, isn’t it.




  1. I love this Julie and I too come back to step 1 constantly. In Celebrate Recovery we state that we are powerless over our addictions and our compulsive behaviors. Who among us does not have compulsive behaviors? It really does come down and back to us accepting our powerlessness and trusting in the power of God. Thank you for sharing! Thelma’s nonchalance cracks me up:)

  2. Amen, Tom!!! I totally agree. Who among us doesn’t have compulsive behaviors? So true.

    I was incredibly stubborn (and slow) to realize my own compulsive behavior. Took me years and finally a good friend said, “Julie, you need Al-Anon.” I kept trying to defend myself–which should’ve been my first clue. 🙂

    Then I went to my first meeting…..

    Thank you, Tom. I’m sure I’d also fit in beautifully at Celebrate Recovery…hangups, habits, and hurts.


  3. What a compelling way to demonstrate the truth, Julie! Isn’t it crazy that we want to order everything in our lives according to our meager abilities when we have the God of the Universe who handles that responsibility so perfectly?

  4. Oh, I’ve had many days, weeks, months, and years of trying to change someone (different someones over time). I’ve come to realize (also through the Al-Anon 12-step program) that the only person I can change is myself and my attitude. Came to Believe…Became Willing…and my favorite: The Serenity Prayer:
    God, grant me the serenity
    to accept the things I cannot change,
    the courage to change the things I can,
    and the wisdom to know the difference.
    Love that!

    • Oh, yes, B.J. Those are wondering words “Came to Believe.” “Became willing.” And the Serenity Prayer. I’ve been quoting parts of it today–I remember years ago my mother told me how much her mother loved the Serenity Prayer. I never thought about it much until my Al-Anon days.

      Love you.

  5. Shelley Elaine says:

    Oh my goodness! My daughter and I just got into a “tiff” about this VERY thing…I suggested something/she ignored my advice/ I got frustrated and her feelings were hurt…SURRENDER…oh how. I wish it was easier for me to just surrender and smile and work on myself. Thanks Julie! Your Guideposts devotions are how I began to follow your beautiful blog 😉

    • Shelley, ohhhhhh, yes! This is exactly what I’m talking about!!!! I think you’ve just aced surrender!!! Congratulations~~~~~

      Thanks so much for letting me know. I’m not sure how old your daughter is, but boy, do I remember “special” times when I wish I’d known the Surrender Secret when our girls were teenagers.

  6. marci says:

    It amazes me how many of the same struggles we (humans) have, and how alike we are.
    I like your word, Surrender, I am looking forward to reading each of your writings in ’15. I almost laugh as you have a way of writing about the very thing I have been feeling or dealing with, . How true! We can only control ourselves and no one else. I have learned a lot about surrender and it is a continuing journey. The Serenity Prayer is on a card at my computer, so I can see it often, and I pray it often. I also carry it on a card in my wallet. Life has a way of letting us know from time to time, that we aren’t in control. Oh Thelma! Leave it to a cat to let us know how much we cannot control what others choose to do. I have heard that No one ever owns a cat, and having cats, I fully agree!. . I am thankful that the Lord has helped me to surrender, and “to accept the things I cannot change.” Today was a kind of surrender day for me. I had my day planned, then suddenly, just as I was about to put a load of laundry in the washer, and thinking of all the things I needed to do, Chas said, lets go (another town) so I can get some boots, some stuff for the dogs, and we can eat lunch there.. I confess it took me a few minutes to ‘surrender’. But the lunch was so good and at the western place where Chas got boots, I found my favorite kind of greeting cards, was able to stock up- and when I got to the check out, found that the cards were half price! This was a good day to surrender and how surrendering made for a very good “happy” day.

    God Bless,

    • Marci, my friend, I think you could teach a class on Surrender! What a wonderful idea–to place the Serenity Prayer where you can see it.

      I loved reading your comment–made me feel like I was right there with you.

      Still praying for your church~~

  7. Patricia Martin says:

    I can’t believe it! That is the same advice my mom gave me just a few days ago! She told me that I could not change a loved one even if I wanted to.(: at first, this was bad news, but then I realized that while I might not be able to control everything, God always controls everything and that’s good news! Your cat and dog are so cute, are they close friends to each other? sending Fall blessings to you and yours!
    Patricia (;

    • Patricia~~~~~~~~~

      I can’t believe it! Your mom and I are on the same wavelength. 🙂 Tell her hi for me, and at first, this lesson isn’t much fun to learn, but after a while, you discover that you can relax. That’s the best part about not being in control.

      Yesterday was National Cat Day, by the way. 🙂

  8. Julie, that’s beautiful. There is a sign at the girls’ orthodontist office that says something like, “My goal is not to change the world, but to change me.” We can only work on ourselves … our hearts … our walk with God … and pray God uses some little tidbit of change in us to trickle down to others. And pray that He uses other’s change to trickle down to us. God is the game-changer, the world-changer …

    I love how the leaves remind us that God is the changer … He’s in control.

    Thank you for being vulnerable.

    • Shelli, I love the words on that sign! That’s exactly what God’s been gently teaching me. It sounds so simple, but it’s been a long time coming. Still working on it. 🙂

      Love “God is the game-changer, the world-changer.”

      Thank you, my friend. I sure wish we could one day meet! xoxoxo

  9. I love this Julie! Being in control is one of those things I suppose we’ll have to fight our whole life. God is so patient! I love that He loves to prove His mercy and kindness- His Sovereign goodness to us- over and over again! hugs and thanks for the great reminder- to daily surrender!

    • You’re absolutely right, Cindy. And He’s soooooooooo patient. He waits until I open my hands and let go–over and over again. xo

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