Weekend Wisdom: What We Control, What We Decide




You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them. -Maya Angelou


The core message of so many of Maya Angelou’s quotes is her insistence that we claim our power. She challenges us to walk with our heads held high, with dignity and grace, no matter what. She challenges us to choose, to actively decide that we will not be taken down or taken out by the inevitable storms of life.


It is a paradoxical truth that we live in the dialectic of being simultaneously powerless and powerful, of having no control and much control. We must surrender and we must engage. Surrender to that which we do not control can be an act of courageous faith. From a spiritual perspective, surrender is not the same as giving up. I see surrender as an act of facing truth and acknowledging that which is bigger than us. Surrender requires both humility and courage.


I was recently talking with my son about discerning when obstacles are signs to change paths vs challenges to overcome, whether a closed door is a message to walk through a different door vs an invitation to push hard until that one opens. Should we move on or move through? This brings to mind the timeless serenity prayer asking for the wisdom know the difference. Sometimes it is very clear what we control and what we don’t. However, part of the surrender is realizing that we won’t always “know” for sure, that we can’t predict the future. The control we can exert is not so much about making the perfect choice of what to do, but taking control of maintaining and emanating our worth and our value, no matter the choice or outcome.


This weekend’s quote tells us that we do have choice within our surrender. The experience of “empowered surrender” emerges for me as I write this reflection. Even when the unwanted, the hurtful, or the traumatic occurs, we can surrender to our vulnerability and still rise in our refusal to be reduced.


With Peace, Love, and Soulfulness,

Dr. Shelly Harrell