August 8

Surrender:  Part II

       There’s no need to fear what tomorrow will bring; it will be as it should.  You can turn your tomorrows over to God, as well.  The most powerful place you can be is found in this present moment, right now!      You don’t need to regret what you did yesterday, because you are where you are – today – for good reason.  And it’s your decision to give over your will and your life (these present circumstances where you live and breathe right now) to your Higher Power.

       Surrender is the third step in your climb to attain freedom of desire.  If you are convinced of your powerlessness over your attachments and addictions, you are ready to believe in a Higher Power that can save you, and restore you to sanity.  But your belief is not just a certainty in a Higher Power, but a conviction that your Higher Power is able to restore you to sanity.  And this kind of belief requires that you surrender; indeed, it demands faith. 

       So, what is faith, anyway?  Faith is actually a combination of three characteristics: 1) Courage; 2) Acceptance; 3) Trust.

Courage

       We all have things that we are afraid of.  Small children are afraid of the dark; some adults are afraid of small spaces while others fear open spaces.  Almost everyone fears death – and even more fear public speaking.  Courage is not the eradication of fear.  Fear is an emotion that can never be removed – nor should it! 

       Fear is what has kept us alive for thousands of years.  It prevents me from crossing the street without checking for oncoming traffic; it teaches me to handle a sharp knife with respect. 

       But we have fears that have no rational foundation, no reason for being there.  These are the fears that prevent us from doing the right thing, and fuel us into doing the wrong thing.  And it takes courage to overcome fear, and enable us to rise above it.

       Love is actually the opposite of fear.  When love shows up, fear disappears.  Just as darkness is the absence of light and cold is the absence of heat, fear is the absence of love.  Love is an energy that brings light and heat – spiritual energy – to a human life that is ruled by fear.  Love is what causes us to act courageously.

       Courage allows us to give up blaming others for our misfortune.  Regret is how we feel when we blame ourselves.  Blame and regret grow in the heart that is unable to courageously face the fear that it encounters.  It takes courage to ‘let go’ of blame and regret.

 Courage is required if you are to slay the dragon of fear in order to attain what you really desire.

August 5

Third Guiding Principle:  Surrender

       Trying to get what you want can seem like such a struggle; and that’s because there is actually a battle taking place inside your being.  Like any battle, when it’s over and a clear winner emerges, the loser must ‘wave the white flag’ and surrender.  But within the context of this book, the white flag doesn’t mean quite what you think:  There are no losers and winners.  What we’re really talking about is letting go.  At some point in your life you are going to have to wave the ‘white flag’ and surrender in order to get what you desire. 

       I still remember the day when I learned to wind surf.  The day was perfect.  A warm sun shone brightly in the blue sky as a gentle breeze rippled the surface of the sparkling lake.  It seemed to be an impossible task, but I’d seen others do it – so I persisted.  No matter how tightly I clutched the sail I was mercilessly blown off the board and into the lake.  Over and over, I got back up on the board only to be blown off my unstable perch.  Without a doubt, I spent more time in the water than on the board before I got the ‘hang’ of it. 

       As I look back I realize that I was fighting the wind (the force).  Of course, I was no match for this formidable ‘foe’ and wrestling with the power of the wind was getting me nowhere.  It wasn’t until I gave up trying to ‘teach’ the wind what I wanted, and learned how to respect this mighty force that I stopped thinking it was my foe and allowed it to become my friend.  My ally!  When I gave up resisting and surrendered to the wind’s force, I was then able to windsurf successfully – and stay high and dry!

       This illustration brings us to the next principle and third step of the 12 Step program:

 “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God.”

       Higher Power is a force not to be trifled with.  If you plan to remain on your proverbial wind-surfer, you will need to come to grips with the ‘wind’ – the Spirit!  This Power is always there, always has been.  If you continue to resist you will be blown away; if you surrender you are going to fly!  Wouldn’t you rather fly?

       This is your choice, your decision.  It’s your choice to surrender; to let go.  You have a will but it is not free; it remains subject to another will. Just as I initially chose to resist the wind while learning to wind-surf, I really wasn’t going anywhere (except into the lake!)  I was free to choose resistance, but my will to windsurf wasn’t.  I had to surrender or I would remain stuck.

       To choose to take another path, to do it your way, brings you in direct conflict with the will of God.  Your ‘free choice’ will result in your resistance to the Will of God.  And if your free choice is to resist, you will pay the price; you will suffer.

       The only way to get what you truly desire is to let go; hand over your will.  It’s not that your opinions, ideas and desires don’t matter.  You simply can’t hold on to them so tightly – you must let them go.  If what happened to you yesterday or last year was a mistake, it can’t be erased.  You can’t un-ring the bell!  Or, if what you did was incredibly great, it should not be forgotten.  Just let go of it; hand it over.

August 4

Higher Power:  Part III

       If you feel that you are completely in control of everything and everyone (including yourself), then you probably have no need for a “higher power.”  But if you are looking for a strength that will enable you to overcome your powerlessness, you will need to recognize that you have a Power greater than yourself, and this Power is available.

       If you are at an impasse with this principle – believing in a Higher Power – borrow someone else’s “Higher Power” until you are sure that you indeed have one!

       Belief in God, your Higher Power, can accomplish two things for you: 

  1. It will give you the hope you need to overcome your personal weakness.  The promise of gaining the ability to overcome your obsessive-compulsive behavior can only encourage you to trust.  And trust in your Higher Power will give you the courage to learn how to choose wisely and face the truth fearlessly. 
  2. It will produce in you the faith to believe that God can restore order from chaos.  Things like emotional balance, financial stability and better relationships suddenly become a possibility for you.    The prospect of gaining peace and serenity in exchange for confusion and turmoil suddenly becomes an option. 

      You may ask, “How can belief in God guarantee that I’m going to get what I want?  How can I be sure?”

       There are no guarantees in life, but there are promises that many have seen fulfilled in their lives.  I can only relate to you what I know to be true for me and many others who are in recovery.  These promises only materialize for those who have faith, and are willing to demonstrate their faith by taking action. 

       There’s a big difference between belief and faith.  Anyone can believe in God; not everyone is willing to exercise their faith in their Higher Power. Easy ‘believe-ism’ will not achieve any results or bring about the fulfillment of any promises. You must have faith.. Give your Higher Power a name.  How are you going to have faith in a God that’s not personal? 

       It takes courage, acceptance and trust to be able to take that step.  I’m talking about the principle of surrender.  This is the third step of recovery that you must take in order to get what you truly desire.

August 3

Higher Power:  Part II

             What the mind cannot process or understand is relegated to the back burner and often considered unimportant.  God cannot be measured or understood by the mind, and so ‘belief’ is reduced to things that can be analyzed and evaluated scientifically. 

       Every recovering addict knows that you can’t think you’re way through an addiction.  Thoughts are created by the mind in order to reason through – in a linear fashion – our ‘how to’ problems.  The mind can analyze each problem and work out (on paper) a logical solution.  But ‘logical’ isn’t going to cut it in the dark realm of addiction.

       The emotions and desires take over our decision-making (our will) long before we can reason our way through an addictive impulse.  And the power of shame is so strong that the reasoning mind barely has a chance to respond before the compulsive act takes over.

       Addicts who have managed to stay sober for extended periods of time do so if they learn to rely on a Power greater than themselves.  The answer to powerlessness over attachment and addiction is Higher Power.  No amount of logical reasoning has helped them obtain their power and freedom.  It comes by faith in the power of God.

      Do you have a concept of a Higher Power?  Can it be proven?  Or is it an awareness of Something or Someone that you can’t quite put your finger on?  True belief in the divine Presence requires three things:

 1.   Openness – If your mind is closed, can you open your heart?

2.   Awareness – Do you have an awareness of God’s presence?

3.   Acceptance – Can you accept the possibility of a Higher Power?

       The mind may be the central processing unit – the computer – of the body, but it is not you.  Your mind (thoughts, feelings, opinions) is an organism that helps you live, to navigate through your day.  Your conscious and unconscious thoughts and beliefs are your creations, but they are not you.  Who you truly are, what you truly desire is not to be found in the mind but in the heart – the seat of the soul.

       You will never contact God with your mind.  God can only be reached from your core, your heart.  Even when the heart has been hi-jacked and taken somewhere to be held for ransom, it still remains your only hope of ever reaching God. 

       It’s important that you keep your heart open to the possibility of a Higher Power.  Openness just means that you are receptive to the idea and the possibility of a Power greater than yourself.  Openness just means that you are aware of your limitations – that you don’t know everything there is to know. 

       Openness leads to awareness.  Awareness is the result of remaining open.  Awareness comes from paying attention to the world around you.  God has left their imprint on all that is created.  Evidence of God’s presence is all around us, and in us.  It’s hard not to observe the created order and not see the Creator in it.

       Acceptance defines the heart that is fully open and fully aware.  The heart that has accepted the possibility of a Higher Power does not need to resist any more.  You will never figure it out with your reasoning mind; but you can decide to remain open and become aware of the existence and influence of a Power greater than yourself.

       If you are offended by the suggestion that God exists and is able to save you from yourself, then you need to find out why.  The problem of powerlessness necessitates the ultimate solution: A Higher Power.  You will remain in your bondage to self until you become open, aware and accepting of a Power greater than yourself that is able to restore you to sanity and release you to the freedom of desire.

August 2

Second Guiding Principle:  Higher Power

       The search for your truest desire is a spiritual quest.  Anything worth pursuing is spiritual at its core because it involves who you really are, in your heart.  There’s nothing more exciting or invigorating than knowing exactly what you want, and taking precisely the steps to get it. 

       Attachment and addiction is a spiritual problem that prevents you from attaining what you truly desire.  And your powerlessness over your human  condition is something you simply must recognize if you are to overcome this problem and continue successfully on your quest.  The next principle (and second step of the 12 step program) follows naturally from the first:

 “Came to believe in a Power greater than ourselves that could restore us to sanity.”

       Do you believe in a “Higher Power”?  Is there something or someone greater than yourself that is able to restore you to sanity?  The answer to these questions will determine whether or not you are able to attain that which you earnestly desire.  If you admit that – on your own – you are powerless over your attachments and addictions, then you had better hope that there is a Power greater than yourself.

       A friend of mine (back in high school) was a confirmed atheist.  He was convinced that there was no God or Higher Power – at least, not in his universe.  It wasn’t until I learned that his brother had died of leukemia years earlier that the truth came out.  As he related his sad story to me, he admitted that he was ‘angry at God’ for what had happened.  “How can you be mad at a God that doesn’t exist?” I asked.  

       The feeling of powerlessness made him angry.  Someone was to blame for this tragedy.  This attitude reflects what we all feel; that life is not fair.  And yet, hidden beneath our sense of powerlessness is the answer to our condition… a Higher Power.

       Those who reject the idea of a Higher Power – God – are still convinced that they are in charge and fully capable of navigating through life on their own.  But those in recovery know differently.  The only way to power is through weakness – powerlessness.  (Please notice I did not say ‘helplessness’ because you are not helpless; there are things that you can do, and must do, if you are to recover!)  And there are things that only God can do for us: “You alone must do it – but you must not do it alone.”

       The 12 Step program is a spiritual program, not a religious one.  There is no ‘religious’ agenda associated with AA, NA or any other 12-
Step program.  It is designed to help those hooked on any foreign substance or attached to any obsessive / compulsive behavior to break free.  The second principle acknowledges the existence of a Higher Power that can restore us to sanity.

       No amount of religious fervor will help release you from your attachments.  No amount of psychological assessment will enable you to let go of your addictions.  And no amount of hyped-up motivational talk will propel you to the successful realization of freedom – freedom of desire.

        As long as we fail to see the need for a Higher Power – God – we will never really believe.  We live in an age where math, science and reason reign supreme.  The mind is regarded as the center of  human experience because the brain is the central processor and responsible for keeping the body functioning properly.  If we can reason our way through life’s challenges, why would we need help from a supreme being?

August 1

Powerlessness:  Part III

       The problem comes when we resist pain; and it increases until we are suffering from something that doesn’t need to exist – shame.  Shame takes over and actually gives momentum to my attachments and addictions.  Without shame, my addictions would loosen their hold on me.  But shame has taken on a life of its own, and it now owns me, whips me and leads me around by the nose.

       Shame is not to be confused with guilt.  Guilt is a feeling you get over something you did; shame, on the other hand, is how you feel about who you are.  As it grows, your suffering increases along with it; but you were not created for this purpose!  Shame is not necessary; it will only render you powerless, and rob you of your life’s purpose.

       Powerlessness is simply our natural state when it comes to shame.  It is our human condition.  Shame and suffering – resisting ‘what is’ – leaves us in a state of weakness; this is the principle of powerlessness at work.  Our powerlessness is letting us know that we can’t do it alone.

       This struggle within is a spiritual problem that can’t be solved using the usual strategies.  ‘How to’ solutions will not fix it; the latest technique in meditation or self-hypnosis will not undo the shame.  It’s not something you can fix on your own, and the tighter you cling to your own ideas and your own methods of self-help will only lead to more failure and frustration.  No amount of repeating to yourself, “I am powerful, and I can do it” will change anything.  The only way to gain strength is to acknowledge your powerlessness.

       You may say: “This sounds very depressing.”  And you’re right… it is depressing.  It’s insane!  Doing what we do, day after day, in order to feel like we’re in control only leads to the sad realization that we are out of control – and powerless.  The hard-core addict has plenty of evidence that life is spinning out of control and completely unmanageable.  But most of us are quite convinced that we can control ourselves and our circumstances.  We wear ourselves out trying to prove it, and in the end we are frustrated and unhappy.

       If you have even a shred of doubt about your powerlessness over your human condition – your natural bent toward attachment and addiction – you will continually try to fix yourself, by yourself.  But if you are absolutely convinced, one hundred and ten percent, that you are powerless over your attachments and addictions you do stand a good chance of getting free.  And this is good news.

       I told you it’s simple, didn’t I?  Simple, yes; but not easy.

       Admitting to your powerlessness is simply the first principle to gaining authentic power, and the first step to getting what you really want.  Acknowledging your powerlessness opens the door to experiencing real power:  Higher Power!