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  • Writer's pictureJen Stone-Sexton

Letting Go of Control - Freedom in Surrender

Updated: Jun 30, 2023

Are you someone who likes to be in control of everything? What is that kind of control costing you? Have you experienced the freedom and peace surrender brings like rain to a parched soul? Read the blog to discover the Freedom found in surrender.

What do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your own soul? Mark 8:36

One of the barriers to growth and success that comes up a lot in coaching is control. As someone who struggles with control – and learning to surrender it – this is an area that is as familiar to me as a favorite and worn pair of shoes.

Our culture tells that we can be in control of our lives. God’s Word tells us otherwise. God’s Word instructs us to surrender control to Him. Our attempts to control our own lives, our circumstances and/or other people lead to frustration, disappointment, anger, and conflict. This kind of control is an illusion. We think we have it but in reality it’s like grasping for the wind.

What we do have control over is our thoughts, attitudes, beliefs, perceptions, emotions, behaviors, words, actions, habits, values, time, priorities, choices, and love. Anytime we attempt to control anything which outside of our own soul-property and what we alone are responsible for, we are actually trespassing onto the soul-property of another.

Our precious energy is wasted when it is expended and dissipated in attempting to force or control something – or someone – we cannot.

Why do we attempt to control our own lives or other people, when it clearly doesn’t work? When our attempts leave us exasperated, unhappy, isolated and disappointed?

Speaking for myself, my attempts to control others or my environment have been based on fear. Fear of not feeling safe. Fear of not having a need met. Fear of being misunderstood. Fear of not being enough. Fear of not having my way or getting what I thought I wanted. Fear of being ignored or abandoned. These are legitimate fears born out of my family of origin and early childhood experiences. And most of us have some form or another of these fears.

What I notice though is that all of these fears are about me. So is the desire to control.

The desire to control rooted in pride. An insidious pride that wants to be the god of my own life.

In God’s Kingdom of reverse - where the first shall be last and the last shall be first, of elevating the ordinary, common, hurting person instead of the pious and self-righteous, of using what the world considers foolish to confound the wise, and working through the most unlikely, yet willing individuals to accomplish His purpose and plan - what does His Word say about surrender?

If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul? Mark 8:35-36 (NLT)

The Message version in contemporary language puts it this way:

Calling the crown to join his disciples, he said, "Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You're not in the driver's seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for? Mark 8:34-36 (MSG)

So how can I surrender control? How do I trust God to meet my needs and desires instead of trying to control every aspect of a desired outcome or response in my life?

The key to surrender is trust. Trust which is rooted in God’s love for me – His love for you - as His beloved son or daughter. I come to Him as my loving, Heavenly Father. Trust comes from a place of belonging.

Trust comes from a place of being fully seen, intimately known, and unconditionally loved by the God of the Universe. Surrender then is a result of obedience which flows from gratitude. It’s no longer about doing, it’s about being. It’s no longer about striving, but abiding.

“When you’re right where you belong, surrender isn’t the hard choice. Loving obedience is a natural response to being loved, known, and accepted.” - Twyla Franz [i]

In other words, surrendering control cannot be accomplished by force or by my trying harder. Surrendering control is accomplished from belonging and trusting. From accepting that I am not God and relinquishing the throne of that control in my life to the only one who is and who is worthy of it. Then choosing to rest in His love and grace.

{my graphics are inspirational gifts for you}

This truth has been a process for me. My trust having been violated by those entrusted to my care at an early age, trust has been one of the most challenging aspects in life for me to learn.

Here’s what I know to be true: The God who created me, knows me (the good, bad, ugly and beautiful), sees me and loves me, is worthy of my trust. He has my best interest at heart at all times. He is faithful. As a Good Shepherd, He is kind and compassionate, tender and merciful, gentle and gracious. He provides, cares, for and leads me. He is also a fierce warrior who fights on my behalf.

I’ve walked down roads that looked right. Roads that promised satisfaction and fulfillment. Roads I was in control of navigating. Only to find them a dark, dangerous, dead end.

I learned all that glitters is not gold and all that shines bright is not God’s true light.

Proverbs 3:5-6 has been my life verse since I was fourteen. But it has taken me decades to actually live in and rest in that trust and to choose surrendered dependence on Him.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart;

do not depend on your own understanding.

Seek His will in all you do,

and He will show you which path to take.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT)

When I finally came to the end of myself, when nothing (and I do mean nothing) in my life was working, when all the “self-help” wasn’t’ helping, when I felt lost, afraid, ashamed and alone and my Savior, the Lover of my Soul met me there, I finally began to trust Him with my whole heart.

I opened tightly gripped hands and relinquished control of all I’d been holding on to. Hands open to receive what God has for me instead of what I think I want. Hands open to receive His love and grace, promises and provision, guidance and direction instead of my way. Hands open to His will instead of insisting on my own.

Do you know what I discovered? Nothing, I mean absolutely nothing in this world can fulfill or satisfy or even come close to knowing and trusting Jesus Christ in a personal way. I discovered that all the treasures of this world cannot compare to knowing Him. I discovered He is trustworthy. He knows what will satisfy my thirsty heart and parched soul. He has healed my heart wounds. He has made beautiful what was broken. And I discovered that what God has for me is far greater than my best dreams.

{my graphics are inspirational gifts for you}

Here is what Twyla Franz says about Surrender in her blog, The Truth About Surrender (For the Strong, Selfless or Self-Reliant Ones) [ii]

Surrender softens us in the places where wounds, busyness, or arrogance have grown callouses. It melts our pride, our mistrust, our denial, and our walls.

Surrender is letting God tend the parched and hardened soil in our hearts. It’s the tilling and the watering, the pruning and the nourishing.

Surrender is humility. Tender vulnerability. Knowing that my all is safe with the One who gave His all for me.

Surrender is choice. And it’s repetition. A heart posture. And a direction.

It’s releasing what’s not ours to hold so we can rest in the hands of the God we wholly trust.

It’s assurance that His ways are infinitely higher than ours.

It’s the steadfast knowing that His heart for us is good—always.

It’s embracing His will with open arms because we know the He’ll never drop us, reject us, or refuse us His provision.

It’s walking in Spirit-tuned wisdom with our feet grounded and our faces lifted towards eternity.

It’s seeing the gift in the hard, ordinary, and the extraordinary. Uttering thank you even when the things don’t go our way, when we can’t see around the bend, when the prayer is not yet answered, when the things we plant show no visible growth. Choosing to praise God in the nevertheless.

It’s fire clarifying how we reflect God to our families, our neighborhoods, our churches, schools, workplaces, and communities. It is water - Living Water - filling us and flowing through us.

It is holy ground, and our still-being-written stories, and God meeting us in the messiness of obedience so His glory can draw others into His embrace.

Trust and the willingness to let go of control also comes from knowing the One in whom I place my trust. If you want to know the person of Jesus Christ and understand the nature and character of the God of the Universe, then you can know by reading His Word and through an individual and personal relationship with Him.

What are you holding on to that you can relinquish control of? What are your tightly fisted hands keeping you from receiving if you simply opened them and let go?

A Prayer for You: Gracious and loving Father, thank you that I can trust you. Thank you for your love for me. Please help me let go of any pride or fear that has kept me from trusting you fully and surrendering myself to You. Fill me with your peace as I take your hand in mind and trust you in every area of my life.

If you like this blog, read the companion blog, Embracing Courage, How to Expand Your Comfort Zone

Click HERE for Your Free Flourish Guide!

Editor's Note:

This blog is by Freedom to Flourish Life Coaching Founder and Christian Life Coach, Jen Stone-Sexton. Jen is currently accepting new individual clients. You can learn more about Jen here. The next Intentional Living online Group Coaching class begins July 12, 2023. You can find out more about Group Coaching here.

If you would like support with overcoming heart barriers and fear which have kept you from trusting God and fully receiving His for you, I would love to come alongside you to offer that support so you have the Freedom to Flourish. To learn more, you can schedule HERE for a free Create a Life You Love Discovery Session.

Jennifer C. Stone-Sexton © 2023 Freedom to Flourish, LLC

All graphics created by Jennifer C. Stone-Sexton © 2023 Freedom to Flourish, LLC

All Rights Reserved.


[i] Twyla Franz © 2022, The Truth About Surrender (For the Strong, Selfless or Self-Reliant Ones) from The Uncommon Normal Blog, September 27, 2022. [ii] Ibid.

Scripture References from:

Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson

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