rebelling against low expectations

Surrender Is More Than Just Letting Go


I remember watching an exchange between two children at my church once. A six year old boy had been deeply hurt by a friend’s unkindness. So he sat in the corner and started singing, “Let it Go.” All of the adults involved couldn’t help but laugh at this way of expressing emotion. The boy was upset with the situation and decided to deal with it by slowly “letting it go.” As I thought more about that situation, though, I realized that Elsa was wrong. Often, you can’t just let it go.

When We’re Not Where We Want to Be

When Elsa sings Let It Go, she is leaving behind her past and looking forward to a better future. Not bad, right?

But, here is where the problem lies. She is letting things go by ignoring problems, ignoring shame, and ignoring her people’s betrayal. In fact, these are the three things that almost results in her sister’s death.

I get it though.

When we go through tough situations, we feel like we must just let it all go. Let go of our problems. Let go of our pasts. Let go of our unmet expectations.

I’m currently a graduating senior. As I reflect on the past 18 years of my life, I see so many of those things Elsa let go of. I desperately want to let go of my regret, my failed goals, and my past identity. The girl I see in the mirror is not the girl I want to be.

I want to say that God will just ignore my past and will give me a great future. I want to say that I can ignore my old dreams and that God will give me new ones. I want to say that it’s okay that I’m not perfect right now and God will make me beautiful. But, you see, I’m missing too many things. I miss understanding who my God is and who I am.

Surrender vs. “Letting Go”

When I “surrendered” my future to God, I told him that although I surrendered it, he should only give me success. Even though this may not be a bad thing to ask for, I had not fully surrendered to him. We all have things just like this. Why? Why do we not fully surrender?

Maybe we don’t realize our God is much bigger than our hopes and dreams. He is a God who answers prayers but also one who uses suffering. He grows us every single day. He doesn’t ignore my past. In fact, he sees it. And, Christ actually died for my past and my mistakes and my dreams. Then, Christ changes everything completely. He now makes me a new creation! This is not letting go but completely transforming.

So, with the dreams in my life that have not been fulfilled, I can surrender them. I can tell God that he can do whatever he wants with them. I can trust in my identity as his new creation and daughter. He is doing a new thing!

At times, it can feel hopeless. One of my friends had a dream for practically her whole life. She had hoped that this dream would have been fulfilled in her college years. So, when things seemed to go towards that path, she was excited and trusted in God. However, all of a sudden, that stopped. Her entire plans and dreams collapsed in a hurtful way. She didn’t know what to do. She spent months wavering between depression and moving on. Finally, she decided that God did not want this dream for her. Why? Simply because he had not done it yet.

Before her last year of college, she decided that she would not pursue this dream anymore and that God did not want that for her. She decided that she would let it go. But, there was a deep hurt still. She didn’t know what to make of life beyond that. Her dream had also been an idol and she couldn’t get over it. What she thought was moving on was actually giving up and not surrendering but keeping control of her life. She did not have a relationship with God that was stronger because of the trial but one that seemed to be growing even dimmer.

I feel just like her at times. However, God is so much bigger than this. I challenge you, stop letting it go and start surrendering to Him! Ask yourself these questions to see where you are:

Is this hope or dream or plan or future something that is an idol in your life?

Do you trust God to have the best plan for you, one where he will use everything in your life to bring it to completion?

Have you truly surrendered this to God to the point of not wanting him to do it your way?

Do you realize that your life is not controlled by yourself and that you don’t need to have everything under control?

Do you realize that God is the King of the world and that he took your sin, shame, and past?

These are hard questions, but sometimes we need to wrestle with the hard questions to truly reach the point of surrender.

What have you been trying to let go? Unlike Elsa, we have the privilege of surrendering all our hopes, dreams, fears, and failures, to our loving and sovereign God.

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About the author

Carissa Samuel

is a passionate teenager from the San Francisco Bay Area who loves science, dance, speech, and writing. She is also a proud pastor's daughter, older sister, and teasing friend. She hopes to continue experiencing God's amazing grace in her life and showing that grace to the world around her forever. You can find Carissa on her blog,

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rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →