To be honest, I am happy to give my Higher Power complete control of almost all my life almost every day, but one or two key areas are untouchable. Not because I could do better or make better choices. I'm just not ready to entirely trust the God of my understanding with my son because I like having him here in my house where I can be in control. If I've learned anything from Disney Princesses, I know I should just “Let it Go!!” But there are no "shoulds" in recovery and “Let it Go!” isn’t in my vocabulary. Here’s the story of how my Higher Power confronted me about one of my "untouchables” and the power struggle that ensued.
It's worse than unmanageable
I've taken Step One enough to know that I am powerless over my addictions and compulsive behaviors, that my life has become unmanageable, but this is way worse. I'm imprisoned. I’m desperate and panicked. I’ve been in my bed for 36 hours, too overwhelmed to leave my room. Finally, I text my sponsor and tell her the truth, not really because I want to or have a zest for life. Mostly, I just know staying in bed forever isn’t an option.
I’ve been at this recovery game for four and a half years now. I’m not an old timer, but I’m not brand new either. I’m doing the work. I go to meetings, work with my sponsor, spend the first few minutes of every day in quiet time reading and praying. I thought all of these practices were a guarantee. If I did them all, I would avoid heartbreak, but I can’t. And this episode is beyond heartbreak; it’s yet another rock bottom.
I remember every detail about my first rock bottom: where I sat, the time of day, the weather, the deep agony. I promised I would never ever let myself be abused like that again, and I've kept that promise. That rock bottom was my Day 1.
My second rock bottom involved finances. I only had about six months of recovery, yet I was still starry-eyed and hopeful. I was ready and willing for my Higher Power, Jesus Christ, to shake all of my foundations and deliver the peace I so desperately wanted.
This rock bottom is different. My Higher Power knows I haven’t totally surrendered this issue because it is untouchable.
But, NOW, He says, is the time
I'm not ready. I'm not willing. I'm exhausted, stubborn, and terrified. Can I really trust Him with something that is more important to me than my life itself? I know the answer should be yes, but I can go my own way on this and continue being miserable.
As a parent, this must be the hardest decision to ever make. Am I willing to turn my child over to Christ’s care and control? Can I surrender this human to my Higher Power? Can I put all of my son’s life on the table? His future: college, career, his family? Where he will live? Where he will work? His children? His death?
Jesus didn’t have to worry about His son’s college, I argue.
The answers aren’t easy. I know by holding on I am making myself physically sick. I know no one loves my child more than He does, and I know He can do it better. Worst of all, I know I’ve tried to do this a thousand times before. Why can’t I honestly let this child go? Why am I so stubborn? But also, why now? Why can’t I pretend to have a few more years to be in control?
The heart of the issue is this: can I be happy without my child? Can I find joy on my own without him? The Serenity Prayer has the answers,
“Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time, accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; taking as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is; not as I would have it, trusting that You will make ALL things right if I surrender to Your will; so that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy in the next."
These two questions reveal my core issue – codependency. I am looking to another human being to fill needs only my Higher Power can.
Everything I’ve surrendered to Jesus thus far has turned out immeasurably better than I could have imagined. (1)
I now live in beautiful, sunny Sarasota. I have a new-to-me reliable car that was made in this century. I have a house! I never thought that was possible. I have enough money to buy my own groceries every week. I have no credit card debt. I have people who genuinely love me, and in my darkest hour, I had a sponsor to reach out to.
My Higher Power has proven over and over again that He is for me, not against me. (2) He makes beautiful things out of the dust. (3)
I feel like I’m on one side of a cliff. It’s a dark jungle. The earth is damp. Dark vines crowd in and something is crawling towards me. On the other side is a bright beautiful sunny land. Things are clear and peaceful. All I have to do is jump over this very narrow but incredibly deep ravine. I know I can make it, but I don’t want to jump nor do I want to stay.
It is time to jump
I take Jesus’s hand, not because I'm a recovery rock star, not because I'm smart. I move because of this one simple phrase, “living one day at a time.” Today, Jesus and I don’t have to pick a college or rent a tux for my son’s wedding. Today, we are not picking out a casket. Today, we aren’t sending my son off alone in a car or signing a lease.
Today is just Monday. I can let Jesus handle a Monday. If parts of today are too tough, I can live minute by minute. I can say Jesus’s name over and over until I can breathe again. I don’t have to be ready to face tomorrow or even make a to-do list. When I get there, I can ask for guidance. What I can’t handle, I don’t have to look at. In fact, what I can’t handle, I will not look at.
This same tool, of living one day at a time, got me here and it’s what will keep me going. Just for today. Just for the next 12 hours. I can do anything for 12 hours. (4)
What’s untouchable for you?
What are you struggling to let go of? Can you turn it over, just for today?
(1) In Ephesians 3:16-21 the Apostle Paul writes this prayer to the Ephesians: “I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever, Amen!”
(2) Romans Chapter 8 is a powerhouse of Bible readings. Here are just two of my favorite passages from this chapter: Romans 8:14-15, "Because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave AGAIN to fear, but you received the Spirit of son-ship. And by Him we cry, 'Abba, Father.'" Romans 8:31, “What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?"
(3) In 1 Samuel 2:8, Hannah prays, “He (the Lord) raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap and seats them with princes and has them inherit a throne of honor.”
(4) In Matthew 6:25-34, Jesus talks to the people about worry, “Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow? They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the fields, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ Or ‘What shall we drink?’ Or ‘What shall we wear?’ For pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."
Paul says in Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength."