Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Surrender - Part 1

This is a hard post for me to write, because I'm not sure I understand the concept of surrender entirely. Forgive me as I try to sort through my thoughts in writing.

There seem to be many elements to the concept of "Surrender" in recovery. The big Surrender is step 3:
"Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him."

For me, this step has always seemed attainable yet distant. How exactly do I surrender all to God? I can easily get overwhelmed.

So I begin to break down surrender. WHAT is it I am supposed to surrender? What do I need to give up?

Well, that's a long list...pride, selfishness, lust, resentfulness, self-pity, procrastination, fantasy...we could be here all day.

When these negative emotions or thoughts pop-up into my life, my initial reaction is to fight them.  If a lustful thought pops into my head, everything I've learned in church/life has taught me "Fight it. Yell at the thought to get out. Use your force of will to remove the thought." I can't speak for all, but for this addict, that principle doesn't work. Even the famous "Sing a hymn to remove the thought" is a form of fighting the thought. These methods may work temporarily, but the thought nearly always comes back, and usually with more force.

Is there a better way? A more effective way?


This is how Surrender looks to me in this situation. The lustful thought comes, and rather than screaming at it to leave, I can accept that the thought is in my head. Accept that just because I have a thought does not make me evil, nor does it mean I have to act on that thought. This thinking, immediately removes the power this thought has over me.

Then I can surrender that thought. I can surrender it to God. I can surrender it to my Sponsor or another friend in recovery. I can tell God "I am lusting right now. I know the thought doesn't control or define me, but I don't want this thought in my head. I surrender it to you."

I can then follow this up with a technique that may sound new age, but has proven extremely effective for me. I close my eyes, and focus on my breathing, and then imagine my breath blowing through the thought, dissipating the thought as I breathe deeply.

I should also add, in the spirit of honesty, it has not often been enough for me to just say a prayer. If the thought is persistent, or if I am feeling especially resentful, I need to pick up the phone and tell someone exactly what I'm thinking and feeling. Maybe that's because God manifests himself in the loving ear of another, but that type of surrender is truly effective for me.

I've heard the "Just don't think that, just get ride of the thought" line a million times in a million ways. And I've always wondered why that doesn't work for me.  Am I defective?  Well, I do know I'm an addict, and for an addict it takes Surrender.

 Over and over.

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