"Relinquishing all ideas of righteousness, surrender unto Me alone; I will deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not despair." Bhagavad-Gita 18.66
I'd like to tell you a story. It's one I've told a few times lately.
When I received my first copy of the Gita, I just didn't get it. I was impressed, to be sure. I just wasn't sure why. I was seventeen at the time, and honestly, considering the mix of hormones and stupidity endemic to the adolescent condition, it's a wonder if I really understood anything. Still, something told me to keep my copy and I was at least smart enough to listen.
I would revisit the Gita regularly, but it just didn't speak to me. Sure, I was entertained by some of the ideas, I could play philosopher with them, but I didn't find that it spoke to me as a revelation - as though God was actually speaking to me, like He really knew me, that He understood who I was and what I needed to do.
That all changed just before I got married.
I realized how amazing my life had turned out and just how profoundly I had misunderstood it. My whole life I had operated under the notion that I had done things of value which had earned me the things I had in my life. One day, though, I woke up and realized that I wasn't that special. Maybe I was hardworking, but it wasn't because I was particularly good or gentle or kind or any of those other virtuous things. I worked hard because I felt that it was what I ought to do in order to get the things that I wanted. And when I got those things, I had them for a moment, if at all.
My relationships up to that point hadn't worked because I held onto what I loved too hard, and would lose it because I felt like it was under my control. But here I was about to marry this amazing person who actually loved me and saw this wealth of good in me. I hadn't earned anything. I had received love as a freely given gift and gave it back freely for the first time in my life. I trusted in it, in her, and in myself and just let myself abide in that love. And it worked out. Realizing that, I wanted to be better. I wanted to offer myself to something and Someone even more enduring, to the One whose grace had brought me to that moment and given me such abundance.
That's when it clicked. I started taking the Gita seriously because it hit me hard. First I had to realize that the tighter I held onto things, the more they slipped through my fingers. I'm still learning that lesson. Every day, over and over again.