Surrender in addiction recovery – Is it all that it’s cracked up to be?
Letting go and letting God is the hardest thing you will ever be required to do.
Because letting go is a process that challenges the ego, the sole purpose of which is survival. Surrender flies in the face of the ego’s purpose. So it’s no surprise that the survival of our personality and our self-image feels challenged when we surrender to something unfamiliar. It is outside of the ego’s control. So we create this back and forth movement: As we surrender, the ego reasserts its will—which I call “self-will”— in an effort to take control until it gets so beaten up, we’re ready to surrender again.
Well, I’ve turned my will over to God and have taken it back at least a million times. However, I don’t hang out in self-will as long as I used to and I don’t get beat up nearly as bad. I trust my higher self more every day, but letting that Power take over completely takes time and practice. Powerlessness and addiction recovery go hand in hand.
Based on an old belief about God, you’re probably terrified of the idea of surrender. I can certainly relate to that. You probably think that if you “let go and let God,” you’re not going to get what you want and that your life is going to be boring, limited and hard.
On the other hand, there may be some of you who believe that when you surrender to Spirit, everything is supposed to change and become perfect with graceful ease immediately, and that there won’t be any more challenges to walk through.
I have found that both these modes of thinking are unrealistic and false.
First of all, from the perspective of an all-loving, all-wise and everywhere-present God whose only desire is to express the highest and best through you, complete surrender is the key to lavish, unlimited good expressing in your life. Real surrender itself is not painful. Genuine surrender is blissful.
It is our resistance to giving up control that’s difficult.
I have found that this experience of difficulty is true only if you’re still struggling with a withholding, judgmental and moody God. The fault lies with our concept of a limited and Santa Clause-like God—keeping a list and checking it twice.
If you see God as an unloving, withholding and punishing personality, you quite naturally would be terrified to turn your life over to It. I mean, why would you? But what if you were surrendering to an infinite source of good that is encoded in every person and every object in the Universe and that is the source of all love and well-being? You would most likely surrender your will and life with a lot more ease and trust.
Secondly, unless we are prepared for the pain and process of growth, the prospect of surrender can be discouraging and knock us off course.
Change is—by nature—uncomfortable. When you alter your way of being, thinking and feeling in the world, trust me, you will be outside your comfort zone. While your comfort zone is not pleasant, it is a place of safety for you. So there will be discomfort and some pain as you stretch beyond your usual patterns. This is completely normal. Remember, if you simply do what is within the scope of your usual way of being in the world, you will continue to perpetuate your current experience—and nothing will change.
When I turned my life over to God, it meant that I was willing to die to the old and be re-birthed into something new and greater.
This process of “dying to the old” is extremely painful to the ego, because it involves releasing something the ego has identified with, and been dependent on, for so long.
The labor of birth or of being restored can be excruciating as we are being pulled (or dragged—your choice) through the birth canal into something amazing and beautiful.
Photo credit: Gerard Van der Leun