For those of you who have been reading my writings for a while, you may have noticed that I am a proponent of the Twelve Steps. The more I surrender my life to God through them, the more I realise they are the essence of the message of Christ. March being the third month of the year, I am currently meditating on the third step quite a bit. The third step is,
“Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.”
I have been a Christian of some kind or another basically my entire life, and yet, when I allow myself to seriously consider the requirement of step three, I find that I am still inclined to recoil away because of the surrender required in this step. The first part is “made a decision”.
For me, a decision is not an action word per se, but an orientation, and in light of the question, an acceptance of my role in my relationship with God.
The decision of step three invites us to turn our will and life over to the care of God. Let’s begin with looking at what our will is.
My will, most likely like yours, contains my hopes, desires, dreams and everything that I want out of and from this life; everything I want to create, everything I want to receive, every relationship I hold onto – these are all captured in my will. And in this question, God asks me to turn those hopes, desires, dreams and all I want in and from this life over to His care.
It is really a decision to release everything, through recognition of powerlessness, over to God. So the question is: Will I surrender and trust?
The second half is my life. My life is what is actually happening – my relationships, my career, my friendships, my family, my core behaviours. Everything that actually exists in my life, equals my life. And this step asks me turn all of that over to the care of God. Really, this is where the rub hits. The rub connects directly to the character of God as I understand God and my continuing delusion that somehow I am in control of my life.
I’ll simply state this, my honest struggle has been found in this statement: I believe in a loving, gracious, compassionate God who has only the best intended for me and has promised to be with me in all things no matter how hard! Yet, I struggle to let go of my will and my life because what if I do that and nothing but pain occurs? What if I lose things that are precious to me? Can I believe in that place that God is not just with me but actually working things together for good? This is an intensely personal and honest struggle.
On my good days, I decide to turn my will and life over to God as I understand Him and act like it is a good decision. On my most sad and scariest days, I still cling to the myth that somehow I can make it better on my own with my best efforts. It’s in those moments that I relate to Gerald May in his book Grace and Addiction who says, “To be human is to be addicted.” Gerald defines addiction to being rigidly attached to something that has mastery over us. I know for me I am rigidly attached to my vision of how my life should be but, I also recognise it as a “thinking addiction” that step three invites me to break, to surrender to and turn to the only good and kind Master; the same loving, compassionate God that my rigid attachment fears. Step three, when sincerely made, can have profound affect if we jump into a rigorous course of action, but that leads us to step four, and that’s for another day.
Today, I am invited as we all are, off the cliff of surrender. I wonder if I’ll fall or fly? Or both?