“Turn your life over to the care of God”

You don’t have to be some kind of religious flake in order to surrender your life to God. In fact, you don’t have to be religious at all! 

12 Step recovery is a spiritual program, not a religious one.  You do not need to have a ‘correct’ notion of God; your concept of a Higher Power will be sufficient. 

I am an addict.  And it was Step one that convinced me of that.  Try as I may, I just couldn’t shake the addiction.  I was powerless over it, and my life had become unmanageable.  In a word, I was “dysfunctional.” 

It was out of a sense of need that I reached out to a Higher Power for help.  

Belief wasn’t enough; acknowledging the presence of a Greater Being wasn’t going to cut it.  I had to exercise faith in this Supreme Force I called God. 

Faith always requires action.  In my case, I had to hand my life and my will over to the care of God.  (Notice it refers to the care of God.) 

So how do I turn my life over to the care of God?  How do I surrender? 

First of all, surrender is not passive.  It’s a decision to begin the work of recovery.  Getting sober is just the first step to recovery.  It merely kick-starts the recovery process.  

The ‘work’ of recovery is the steps:  Steps 4 through 12.  These steps require faith, and faith involves action.  And this action does not go unrewarded. 

Surrender places you in the care of God.  And that, my friend, is its own reward!

Tend to the garden of your heart.

It’s that time of year again.  Yard work is in full swing around the neighborhood.  You can hear the sound of lawnmowers on a Saturday morning, along with the smell of fresh-cut grass. 

My garden has sprung to life, as well.  Some plants bloom early, some later.  But all have begun their annual rebirth after a long winter’s sleep.  I love to watch it happen, to see the plants of many different species each returning to their preordained shape, size and color.

 There are other things that grow in my garden as well.  Unwelcome visitors who wish to take over the space provided for more beautiful growth.  Of course, I’m talking about weeds.  

I could have my doubts about certain perennials – whether they will spring to life.  But when it comes to the weeds, I am certain they will appear quickly and in great numbers! 

 So, most of my time in the garden is tending to the weeds, and other assorted unwelcome guests.  It would be silly to expect my garden to flourish without the usual weeding and clearing of useless debris. 

I do the same when it comes to the garden of my heart.  I may have planted some beautiful foliage there when I first did the 12 Steps; step nine in particular.  Making amends helped me plant some healthy and beautiful growth – to replace all the weeds that I asked to have removed in step seven (“Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings”). 

It is step ten (“Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it”) to which I am referring.  This step is a continuation of step four, when we made our first “searching and fearless moral inventory” of ourselves.

 Don’t forget about step ten:  Continue to tend to the garden of your heart!

What are you waiting for? Do it now.

I am a procrastinator.  With just about everything.  My motto is, “Why do today what you can put off till tomorrow?”

This character defect has not served me well – especially in recovery.

When it was time to start attending 12 step meetings, I would show up late and skip out early.  Sometimes, I wouldn’t go at all.  My wife thought I was going to a meeting because I told her so.  But on the way, I would have a change of heart.

When I finally got used to going to meetings regularly, it took me forever to find a sponsor.

After I found someone to be my sponsor, I took forever to start doing the steps.  I would read them and study up on the 12 steps, but I couldn’t seem to commit to working them.

Steps 1 to 3 were simple enough.  But then there was step 4.  This sounded like ‘work’ to me; and it was.  I’d look at the questions, and try to answer some of them.  But it was hard.

So, I would put the ‘work’ down, and bury it under a pile of books and other distractions.  Out of sight – out of mind.

It wasn’t until I had a major slip that almost cost me my job.  I suddenly ‘awoke’ from my spiritual sleep and made the decision to finish the steps, and get on with the business of recovery.

I still have a tendency to put things off – things I know I need to do.  But I now have an awareness of my aversion to follow through, and I’m able to encourage myself to ‘get on with it’ in spite of my reluctance.

Part of my recovery is learning to say to myself, “What are you waiting for?  Do it now!”

Let go of the things that don’t belong to you…

Someone I work with got fired the other day.

 When I asked why, they told me he was taking stuff that didn’t belong to him.  Apparently, my boss frowns on that sort of thing. 

 As an addict I had to let go of things that weren’t rightfully mine.  Some of them were easy to give up.  Some of them weren’t so easy.  Now, don’t misunderstand; I’m not talking about material things like stolen jewelry or money.  The things I had to give up were: 

  • Anger and resentment
  • The need to be right
  • Self-loathing

 It sounds a little bit funny when you put it down on paper, but these things were hard to give up – they still are.

 As an addict it is your job to let go and let God.  Let go of the things that don’t belong to you; the things that were never meant to be part of your life. 

 Negative emotions are so commonplace that we live with them constantly, and never question their influence in our daily lives.  In fact, we are more apt to justify why we feel negatively than try to give it up.

 Just knowing that I am created for so much more than anger and low self-worth helps me to seek for something more in my recovery from addiction.  The trick, I have found, is simply this:  To claim what actually belongs to me! 

 When you asked God to remove your shortcomings, did you ever think to ask for something in its place?  What about peace?  How about humility?  And don’t forget about honesty!

 Let go of what doesn’t belong to you, and claim what is rightfully yours.