When all else fails…
What’s left when all else fails? When our human resources are inadequate and no amount of willpower, brainpower, or personal effort can help us surmount an obstacle? Is there an ally that we’ve neglected to call upon?
If you are finally tired of doing battle, unsuccessfully, against an addiction problem, the act of surrender is the beginning of recovery. If you’ve been brought to your knees—speaking metaphorically and literally—by alcohol and/or drugs, you’re already in an appropriate position for prayer. Surrender is inevitable anyway, as the addict in the swamp of addiction is already surrendered to the drug and its consequences. Fortunately, surrendering to God is the available alternative.
We are trained to never give up
We are trained as a culture to never give up: “If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again,” and so on. Add to that the peculiar stubbornness that seems to be a hallmark of the addictive personality: “I can handle this on my own . . .” and the problem of denial:”It’s really not that bad . . .” and you have a formula for disaster. The addict is a runaway train and the conductor is asleep at the wheel. Surrender, like forgiveness in recovery, is thought of as a sign of weakness. So, how can we find strength in surrender?
Access to God
There is a phrase in recovery literature, “belief in and access” to God, that makes a distinction most people don’t consider. It’s one thing to believe, but access is an entirely different matter. It starts with belief, but belief isn’t enough. It’s been pointed out that “the Devil believes in God.”
Access to the power of God begins with submission—admission of powerlessness and a willingness to do whatever it takes to find new power that will take cares of our problems. It is the beginning point of the 12 steps for Christians.
When we live our lives motivated by self-centered needs and desires, by fear that we’ll lose what we cherish or won’t get what we think we need or deserve, we find ourselves frustrated at every turn. We have placed ourselves in an adversarial relationship with the world and its people, and we are cut off from the sunlight of the spirit.
Abandon the self
Surrender is an abandonment of the self. We come back to the stark reality that drug and alcohol addiction is already an abandonment of the self, so to choose God as the object of surrender is simply to make an intelligent choice. We learn how to stop blaming others and face what is really going on.
And it is in the abandonment that we find real power, the power to live life on life’s terms, to deal courageously with the occasional problem, to live in harmony with our fellows, to repair the damage we have done in the past, and to live useful and principled lives. The incidental results of gaining access to this new power are release from our addictions, freedom from self-centered fear, and a new happiness and sense of purpose.
If God is the ultimate source of all that is good, and the ultimate source of power, it stands to reason that we can find strength in surrender, as that is what opens us as channels to that source.