The Yoke…Surrender is the Best Path Forward

When I was a kid my dad told me stories of his youth when he was a farm boy during the Great Depression. He explained how they placed yokes on two cows to do their plowing. The images in my head looked painful and abusive to me. That’s because I was, incorrectly, associating the farm yokes with how the pilgrims used stocks to punish and shame people in the public square.

A calf placed in the yoke with the older cow wasn’t placed there for punishment, but rather as a teaching guide. The calf learned quickly that the best way to make this situation work was to follow the lead of the older cow. The more the calf fought against the yoke, the more pain and effort it took to just stay astride. Her best path was literally to surrender her initial instinct to fight against the yoke. She soon learned that the yoke was literally meant to take a difficult task and lighten the load.

In my Christian upbringing I learned this verse, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest, Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

This was Jesus’ way of saying, “When you’re exhausted from doing it your way, then come along side me. I’m not going to harm you. There is rest for your soul by doing it my way.” Whether you even believe in Jesus or not, following his example of surrendering, and more specifically surrendering your stubbornness, ego, and rebelliousness to His way will make life infinitely better.

We are living in very challenging and confusing times that demand much from us. I don’t know about you, but for me, surrender is not the first thing that comes to mind when I’m in a difficult and challenging situation. There are days when the voice in my head says, “I want it my way. I want it the way it used to be. And I want it now.” And that kind of thinking doesn’t lead to anything productive or healthy for me.

Dr. King taught the way of love and non-violent resistance as the path forward in even the most difficult of times. Love, grace and peace, especially now, shows great strength, discipline and wisdom for today. Sometimes just surrendering and giving up is the best, most honorable path forward. That’s what Tender Lions do.

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Many of these blog entries are edited excerpts from Tender Lions: Building the Vital Relationship Between Father and Son

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