Last night I spent some time in the big book of Alcoholics Anonymous, diving intently into Step 3 of the 12 Steps of recovery. This is the part where you come face-to-face with the reality that without your Higher Power, there’s no hope.
To quote the step: “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.”
That’s a hard one for some addicts to swallow. Especially those who don’t believe in God. Also hard to accept is the idea that to recover we have to surrender our will over to the care of God. To the person who doesn’t understand what this is really about, all this means quitting the fight and diving into the comfortable world of a false god. To surrender is to roll over, let your spirit break and play dead.
In fact, nothing is further from the truth. At least not according to where I’ve been. Here’s my attempt to explain how all this comes into play in my life.
I’m not here to tell you what to believe. I can only explain my own thoughts, beliefs and actions. You, reader, can take it or leave it. We all have a road to follow, and your road can’t be exactly like mine. Besides, having been down that road, I can tell you it’s better to go a different route if you can help it.
I’ve always been what some people would call stubborn.
In a lunch meeting with my mother in the summer of 2009, as I sat there slurping my soup and hearing her out in an attempt at reconciliation, my mother said I should have been a taurus instead of a virgo, because I’m “as stubborn as a bull.”
Whatever. I always thought astrology was a bunch of bullshit, anyway. And for my mother, surrendering means everyone does whatever she wants.
If you look up the word surrender in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, you see all the wrong descriptions:
There it is, all laid bare. To surrender isn’t to give up and stop thinking for yourself. It’s exactly the opposite. It means doing a gut check, finally being honest and realizing you need help. When you surrender to God, you’re letting in the people who can help you.
It’s about honesty, trust and taking a leap of faith.
Here’s the truly whacked part: In doing so, I suddenly experienced more freedom than I ever had before.
I stopped being afraid to leave my room, getting on airplanes, taking on challenging work assignments that previously would have made me sick to my stomach, and I stopped being afraid to get up and talk in front of a room full of people. I also stopped being afraid to speak up when I disagreed about something, particularly in work.
In other words, I finally started becoming the man I wanted to be.
I still have a long, long way to go. But this beats the hell out of what life was like when I was clinging to that old, stupid will of mine.
Yeah, I surrendered. I gave up the idea that I could go it alone, without people who know better and without God.
Some might think that makes me weak.
I don’t care.