I sit here reflecting on a year since launching SURRENDER PROJECT. Many of you reading this blog understand the basic premise of what this PROJECT stands for. More recent followers however, may not. I aim to provide a bit of background as to how this whole thing started. Today’s post is also about recapping the past year, particularly looking at lessons and life changes since beginning my attempt at fully SURRENDERING. Finally, I want to give some perspective of where I’ll go from here, in this moment, as I gaze toward year two of truly CHASING MY JOY.
I didn’t exactly have a phenomenal upbringing. I’m sure we all have our stories, and I certainly don’t want to revisit, or fret. Many of my previous posts elude to this fact, some elaborating more than others. Over the past few years I’ve made it my mission to learn the how and why behind prolonged reactive behaviors, which inevitably stemmed from a shattered soul and mind. I realize looking back that life leads us down paths that force us to learn, otherwise we find repetitive misery. I’d say my early thirties were certainly full of lessons created by hurtful circumstances and actions, and I chose to learn amidst tribulation. I lived from a place of hurt by allowing my ego to control my actions for way too long. Reactions from child-like places were common, yet somehow personally justified as I attempted to be a man in this world. Typically I just tried to get through each day hoping I didn’t upset anyone, and that nobody else hurt me. I tried creating an environment of external success, perfection and happiness, despite not feeling those things on the inside. My life was about trying to control my external environment in order to chase a peace that was ever illusive. I was sad, scared, anxious and lacking true JOY for much of my life. I went through hurts, hangups, heartache and eventual deliverance. Life was out of balance and I knew it, yet a few breaking points had to happen before I finally possessed the courage to accept a new way of life: SURRENDERING.
I sought so many external pleasures in an attempt to calm inner anxiety. I pursued worldly applause and attention, which I loved, despite that it was a constant hamster wheel of chasing. I sought attention via relationships (or lack thereof), craving connection to fill the void within. I often thought career success was the true path to bliss. I even tried constantly elevating personal belongings, from wardrobe all the way to houses. I relived the inevitable let down of constantly chasing my “best ever” in many categories (typically tied to work performance). I think I even considered myself a whiskey connoisseur at one point, smoking cigars and drinking high end whiskey with my boujee rocks glasses and large ice cubes. Really I was just utilizing the whiskey, along with many other things, as an escape from the reality that continually slapped me in the face: anxiety was created and propelled through the constant chase of seeking fulfillment from external sources.
“Situational Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, especially pertaining to health- severe hypochondria.” Doctors constantly tried to diagnose what was going on with me. Gut wrenching anxiety flowed within and real symptoms protruded physically. I lived through dozens of nocturnal panic attacks. I’ll never forget that first one, EMS called at 2AM to me believing I was actually dying. Talk about fear! A brutal divorce a few years ago, and I don’t hide from the fact that I recognize it takes two to fail. I realize I made so many decisions for the wrong reasons in life, including chasing the worldly reasons to marry in the first place. I now realize that my inner desires to fit in, be liked, feel love, and portray happiness led me to decisions that I wasn’t ready for. I entered into adult life unhealed, lacking wisdom, with little personal awareness. Maybe there was a purpose to all of my speed bumps, as I believe I’m a better man now. Perhaps each hurt, disappointment, and point of pain were necessary parts of my journey, which led to the first day of the rest of my life 365 days ago. The day I made a life altering decision. The point of my spiritual awakening. The day I began to SURRENDER.
I could go on and on about how this all got started, but that’s not what this post is about. The most important thing is that God brought me to a point where I finally knew relinquishing control was the only way to truly move forward. I’m not saying we need to go through tons of pain in order to reach this point. Perhaps I’m just a little hard headed. We can choose whether we learn lessons amidst tough times, otherwise painful experiences will continue to present themselves until we learn the lessons we’re meant to. Do you ever wonder why so many people continue to make the same mistakes over and over, while often getting slightly worse each time? Life has a funny way of teaching us, even if it takes several attempts. I was 35 with a history of pain, I’d made plenty of questionable decisions, was living life not fully alive, before finally realizing a relationship with God needed to take first priority.
I had been wanting to take a road trip for years- just me and my dog Murph. I planned for months and decided last summer would be our little journey, as I aimed to escape the Phoenix heat. I love writing, and multiple people thought journaling my adventures would be a good way to remember the summer. I took it a step further by deciding this blog would be a good way to chronicle that summer trip, but also to write about my more important journey of living life with a new purpose- SURRENDERING all things to God. Hence the name- MY SURRENDER PROJECT. That’s how this blog started: years of pain and mishaps, lessons learned, chronicling a road trip, while learning to give life to God.
That summer road trip was awesome. So many posts were written last July-September. Go check them out if you haven’t. One of my favorite posts ever was “The End of My Journey with a Letter to Me,” which is still posted at the top of the blog. What a trip that was, what invaluable time with Murph, with myself, and with God. I believe we are all meant to truly soul search, which is what that road trip was. I’ll never forget taking time to truly live via that trip! I imagine I’ll be chasing even more adventures soon, God willing of course. Trips aimed to explore nature, to grow within, to chase dreams, and to evolve my relationship with God.
Shortly after launching My Surrender Project I was presented with an opportunity to pair up with my best friend in business. Years of learning about myself positioned me with a different vantage point regarding business than ever before. First, I began to like myself more. I started appreciating my strengths, while deciding to stop trying to be everything to everyone. I think Chad had some epiphanies along his journey as well, which led him to a similar point of view. Let’s just say egos were ousted and we decided we both have strengths for a reason, which we should pursue. We realized we are better tackling business via a partnership in many ways, and I’m grateful for it. I have more JOY now in my work. I’m continuing to refine my business to permit strengths to shine, even when they’re not mine. Why did I spend so many years trying to be a “jack of all trades?” Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of us being created intentionally different from one another? I committed to a few things with work: chase JOY in all that I do, be authentically me, and be part of a team of incredible people that have different skillsets, yet similar passion! Work is much better now. I tell you this because I don’t find it coincidental that I came to this conclusion shortly after I began SURRENDERING daily to God. He took the wheel, and I’m liking the road much more.
Another MAJOR lesson learned over the past year was how many of my goals and commitments were shallow in purpose. As most of you know, I was chasing worldly gain and accolades for way too long! I realized how conditioned my mind had become via life experience. Do more, achieve more, be more, and eventually I’d find happiness. Nope. That’s not how life works, at least not from my experience. I realize the prescription for purpose is CHASING JOY, which I believe is Divine. Follow those happy tears. Do what makes your soul dance. Everything else of real value will follow. Worldly gains are meaningless compared to the spiritual awakening felt via a relationship with Christ. I’m finding that fulfillment is found within. God first, self-love and acceptance second, and everyone around us will like the better version of ourselves we bring forward as we serve our loved ones and community. This has been an incredible lesson learned over the past year!
SURRENDER PROJECT continues to stand for a few things. Chase JOY. Live with NO REGRETS. Be the GOOD KIND OF CRAZY. Have a WHY NOT ME mindset. Live the ROMANS 12:2 way of life. SURRENDER daily. I must admit, many days I fall short in one or several areas. I’m not done learning yet, I’m only beginning. I don’t know where my road will lead, but I know that I don’t have to live in fear. I know that I don’t have to let panic attacks joust me awake at night. I know that I cannot control tomorrow, or change yesterday, yet I can LIVE FOR TODAY. I also know that I cannot afford to stop hitting my knees EVERY SINGLE DAY to SURRENDER to God’s plan for my life. My SURRENDER PRAYER will be said each day, because that’s my reminder to the commitment I’m making to overcome this world, via the only person who ever has, my savior Jesus Christ. He overcame the world, His GRACE is true love. I owe everything to Him, so I submit to Him daily. I must, as He made the ultimate sacrifice for me. Another lesson: I continue to discover that life void of a relationship with God is a life void of TRUE JOY.
What else do I believe as I sit here today reflecting on the past year? I believe we all have that small whisper requesting our presence on a more adventurous ride of life. We are meant to explore. We are meant to chase dreams. We are meant to live each moment like it’s our last, while appreciating the blessing of being fully present. We are meant to love deeply. We are meant to forgive, both others and ourselves. We are meant to learn. We are meant to be courageous. We are meant to fight the good fight. We are meant to believe. Finally, we are meant to SURRENDER to our Divine journey, with Divine purpose, toward our Divine destiny.
Here’s to another year of SURRENDER PROJECT, care to join me?
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