Sign Up for our Free Daily Email Updates / Catholic Spiritual Direction

The Victory of Surrender – Part II of II

The Victory of Surrender
Part II of II


Christianity is full of paradoxes: “If you want to find yourself, you have to lose yourself . . . . The last will be first and the first will be last . . . .The greatest of all is the servant of all. . . .” The most important victory we can “win” for ourselves and our families is when we truly surrender to the will of God.

HoogeveenWapenOnofficieel4.svgThere isn’t enough space in our person for more than one — and so God is saying, “get rid of your self” and I will fill you with MY self. Or as Pope Benedict XVI put it (revisiting St. Augustine on the matter), we need to pour out the bitter vinegar of our ego so that Christ can pour into our souls the sweet honey of His Person, Who is Love Itself (cf. Spe Salvi, 33). Not a bad swap, but it’s not an easy swap.

What is absolutely needed to make this swap? Humility, surrender and trust.

To the rest of the world, those words can portray weakness and defeat. But to God, they are the banner of the saint.

In my previous post, I shared some great challenges our family has faced since launching Heroic Families. Several months of trials —mechanical, financial, emotional and spiritual — left us drained and unsure of this calling when we recently pulled into the ranch of a family friend who is allowing us to stay there, decompress and plan for the future.

Not long after, through an incredible work of Providence, an old priest friend who I haven’t seen in 20 years arrived at the ranch to lead a previously scheduled retreat.

Before he left, I sought his counsel and asked this wise Franciscan priest the best way to move forward with a dream of mine — both for my family and hopefully for countless other families — that was now seeming to tear apart my family because of the stresses we were enduring.

“Peter (pronounced “Pe-dah”),” he said with his thick New York accent, “surrender this whole initiative to the Lord with true humility, and put the next major decision that has to be made in another’s hands [he gave me a specific person]. This way you will constrain the devil and put the entire initiative in God’s hands. If God wants you to continue in this direction, then He will reveal that through this person. If it is another direction, then you will know that as well. There is no better way to disarm the devil trying to derail your family and this ministry than through humility and letting go of your dream.

“And really, Peter, it’s not letting go of it, nor is it abdicating your family leadership, it’s just putting it completely in God’s hands and exercising leadership through an act of humility. How can God refuse such an act?”

It was very, very hard to receive those words, but I knew he was right. So I obeyed and abandoned and trusted. And God is blessing that decision by giving my marriage and family a renewed peace as we work hard to discern God’s will for this next chapter in pursuing our ministry.

ChristCalmsTheTempestRaymondBalzeLeChristApaisantLaTempete(TheCalmingOfTheTempest)[ChristCalmsTheSea]God is not asking me to let go of the reigns completely (“for we are God's coworkers” 1 Cor 3:9), but He is asking me and my family to trust in HIS leading and let Him give the right tugs necessary to steer this ship as its true Captain. A father always takes delight in seeing his children thrive, but never forgetting Who provides that blessing. How much more, then, does our heavenly Father? It’s just never forgetting who gave us the talents and who holds the ultimate blueprint of our lives that only eyes of faith can read accurately.

So, my family continues its mission with less of ourselves at the helm, yet putting all of our effort behind what God reveals next. At a time when we were thinking all was a disaster and a deeply wounding defeat, God has stepped in to say, “You are EXACTLY where I want you. I want to lead you now into something greater if only you will surrender your dreams to me, For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope (Jer 29:11). Do you trust me? Will you trust me?”

KazimirowskiEugeniusz,DivineMercy,1934Jesus always asks us this question, and if your heart can honestly say, “Jesus, I trust in you,” then let Him lead your family to do something great for His kingdom. How will we inspire others to something great for the Lord, if we haven’t led from the front and if you haven’t some scar to show for it? This is what inspires others.

When we put everything on the line for the Lord, there is NOTHING that He doesn’t use to bring our souls and the souls of others through us to Him. Nothing will stop you from accomplishing His plan, no matter how many failures you experience. You and your mission are HIS and He WILL accomplish His plan in and through you. That ultimate victory begins, first, with the ultimate surrender.

Try it and share with the world your story of the greatness and mercy of God. He . . . and the world . . . are waiting.

*** Heroic Families is looking forward to see where God leads it to settle down by the Fall. During this launching year, the mission of Heroic Families is mostly supported by my speaking engagements to parishes and through leading retreats. And what is the mission of Heroic Families? To set families on the path to freedom and help you discover God’s unique purpose for your family! If you would like to support this mission and bring the message of Heroic Families and other specialized talks of mine to your parish or event, please reach out to me at Visit for more information about the topics I am offering. I would love to help you build up families in your community!



Editor's Note: If you missed part one, you can find it on-line by clicking here.

Art: Unofficial Coat of arms of the Dutch municipality of Hoogeveen 1872 version, Arch, 2014, own work, “This file has been identified as being free of known restrictions under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights”, Wikimedia Commons. Le Christ apaisant la tempête (La Tempête Apaisée) (Christ Calms The Tempest), Raymond Balze, ca 19th century, meets public domain criteria. Divine Mercy, Eugeniusz Kazimirowski, 1934 [Painting in Divine Mercy Sanctuary in Vilnius], PD-US copyright expired, Wikimedia Commons. Heroic Families Logo used with permission.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

About Peter Howard

Dr. Peter Howard presently lives in Illinois with his wife, Chantal, and five children. Dr. Howard is a professor of Theology at the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation ( In 2015, Peter and Chantal founded dedicated to the mission of “awakening Catholic families to their critical call to live their faith with courage, passion and purpose.” He is also a Catholic videographer (, author and national Catholic speaker who has spoken at the 2015 American Chesterton Society Conference, 2012 Midwest Catholic Family Conference in Wichita, Kansas; the United States Air Force Academy; parish retreats and on Catholic radio programs such as Radio Maria. Peter earned his Doctorate in Sacred Theology (S.T.D.) from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas [Angelicum] in Rome, Italy. Dr. Howard's theological expertise lies predominantly in Mariology and the teachings of Venerable Fulton J. Sheen. He is the author of the 2014 book: The Woman: The Mystery of Mary as Mediatrix in the Teaching of Fulton J. Sheen. Like his spiritual mentor, +Fulton Sheen, Dr. Howard is passionate about evangelizing families by communicating the truth and beauty of the Catholic faith as the answer to the challenges and errors of the world. If you would like to invite Dr. Howard to speak at your parish or event, contact him at

please consider supporting our mission with a donation!

  • Cheryl

    Peter, My heart goes out to you and your family at this time. Your story so touches my heart and, in a way, is very similar to my own. The Holy Spirit, I believe, has led me to reading about your situation in order to give me hope with my own struggles. I will continue to pray for you and your family and the families of those you seek to help. God bless you and your family!! Cheryl

    • Thank you, Cheryl. I will pray for you for strength and patience perseverance through your struggles. I try to remember “all things are passing” by St. Theresa of Avila and probably every saint who ever lived said that 🙂

  • 7cathy17

    Dear Peter, I wondered what happened to you for it is May ,and I was looking foward to your meditations on the Blessed Mother.Very good sharing here,the high hills and the deep valleys of the journey.I myself am trying to set up an apostolate and have found it quite frustrating at times wondering who wants this me or heaven.Then comes the breaking of the light from on high,the surrender and as you quoted yesterday ..”Your Ways are not My Ways” now is coming some inquires.I could write for some time here,but I will close with you state so humbly,”You and your mission are His andHe will accomplish his plan in and Thru you”I sometimes forget the total trust that God has in me to do his work
    And that I am a necessary component in bringing this to fruition.I Wish You Many Blessings on Your Journey

    • Thank you for your comments. Yes, I am drawn to reflect on Our Lady’s complete abandonment to the will of God in the midst of personal experience, so indirectly my reflection is Marian 🙂 Thank you for your support and your prayers!

  • CLudwick

    Your words are a balm to me! I am on the cusp of a new phase in life – turning 65 and being laid off from my job (after 45 years of working) all at the same time. I praise the Lord for the financial timing of Medicare and SS but I’m truly struggling with depression! I didn’t want to retire yet (it feels a little like a death sentence). My husband is retired but he isn’t bothered with it. We are not on the same page spiritually either so I have to be aware of that as I look forward to other things.
    I am praying for guidance and discernment. I do have a spiritual director but don’t get to meet with him often. I struggle with surrender because I can’t seem to “see” the way God wishes me to go. Your description of giving up your plans hits the nail on the head for me. I will pray more fervently for this surrender.

    • And I will be praying for you as well!

      It is very important to see all things in God’s will. Despite the hardship and lack of clarity, in faith know that you are exactly where God wants you. Choose Him every day and He will make your paths straight . . . even if you can only see 2 feet in front of you. He sees through the fog for us 🙂

      God bless you!

      • CLudwick

        Thank you !

Skip to toolbar