Resist Submit


Sea birds that were calmly feeding on a sandbank flying off as they submit to the incoming tide. Taken by Diane Woodrow
Seabirds submitting to the incoming tide. Taken March 2022

Submission is something that is often preached on, especially within the “Wives submit to your husbands” [Eph 5:22] generally meaning “wives do what your husbands tell you.

I read this quote by Shams of Tabriz when I was reading “Forty Rules of Love” by Elif Shafak a while back and it got me thinking

Submission does not mean being weak or passive. It leads to neither fatalism nor capitulation. Just the opposite. True power resides in submission a power that comes within. Those who submit to the divine essence of life will live in unperturbed tranquillity and peace even the whole wide world goes through turbulence after turbulence.

Rule 34

This got me thinking. Submission is not about obeying and doing what you are told but able accepting the situation, of staying tranquil when all around you is falling apart. It is finding something deep within and living calmly.

Then this verse from James popped into my head. My son learned it by heart when he was about five and would shout “flee” at the top of his voice at the end.

Submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee

James 4:7

James is actually talking about how people should stop arguing with each other, stop being proud, stop needing to be right. For him the “devil” was the thing in side which makes as do things that upset others and upset ourselves. So if we submitted to God, that calm space within us, and also if we believed we were loved unconditionally we would not need to be angry, not need to fight, not need to fear, not need to be prideful, have nothing to be anxious about. We could go to that place that Shams talks about the divine essence, the tranquility within.

So how do we do that? I am going to sound like a worn out record but I do think it comes from slowing down, from not rushing into doing or saying things, acting not reacting, which I think comes from not thinking we need to be busy busy busy all the time.

We accept. We breath. We allow peace to come from within. And once we let that out then we can submit in all situations because we are allowing something bigger than us to take control. Submission is like trust. We can submit if we trust that something bigger will support and take care of us. Only then can we “resist the devil”; the sum of all our fears and anxieties.

new road trust

Another New Road

A winding path through woods  taken by Diane Woodrow
A walk in the woods, April 2020, taken by myself

The wonder of being brought, by God, around a corner and to realize a new road is opening up, perhaps—which He alone knows. And that there is no way of traveling it but in Christ and with Him. This is joy and peace—whatever happens. The result does not matter. I have something to do for Him and, if I do that, everything else will follow. —

A Search for Solitude: Pursuing the Monk’s True Life, January 23 and 24, 1958

I go through phases of taking photos of the same thing. Paths have been an ongoing theme. I love the nature of paths. The way they lead you onward and how much one puts ones trust in a path. I think this is why this quote jumped out at me. And the whole thing of being at the start of another year, and my husband had said about someone he follows on Facebook had said about a bend in the road.

But it is Merton’s joy that comes through here about the wonder of a new road. With all the changes that have been going on since the start of the pandemic, which for us in the UK was March 2020, we are tired on new roads. We are tired of walking roads we have no map for. We really do not want to go round another corner and see something new opening up.

Yet Merton talks of wonder and trust, of joy, and of not worrying about the results. And whatever our religious beliefs most of us do fight worry, which the media encourages.

I wonder how different life would feel if instead of being fearful about the new road, instead of hoping the new road will be similar to something we knew, we could step out in joy and wonder, in trust of each other and something bigger than ourselves, not fearing what is to come, letting go of needing to control the situation.

I’m not talking of not doing anything about the injustices of the world, or ignoring climate change, or pretending everything in the garden is rosy. I’m talking about having eyes that are open about what is going on and of wanting to do something to change, but in a joyful, wonder-filled, trusting way

I think we would feel more peaceful, many of our nations mental health worries would ease, and I do wonder if actually we would then have more energy and confidence to really change things instead of living in fear?