For me, surrender is about aligning myself with God's will and it starts with a question: "What is God's will for me in this moment?" When I'm clear about what God's will is for me in that moment, I simply then have to choose to do God's will. This is surrender. It is doing God's will.
I have a GPS system in my car. The GPS always gives me 'route preferences': Do I want to take a longer, but faster route, or the shorter, but slower route? Highways or back roads? Surrender is a lot like this. So I think when I am faced with an opportunity to choose my journey, I ask my internal-personal GPS which way to go. What I find is that I have two fairly simple choices: The 'Hard Way' or the 'Easy Way'.
I think to myself, well who would choose the 'Hard Way?' That seems stupid! But the system, as if hearing my inner thoughts, responds: TRUST ME. And then it says: "If you trust me, even though you know not how I am taking you, I promise that I will to deliver you safely."
The second option is the 'Easy Way' -- this option gives me the route and says: 'Don't worry, I got it!' In fact, it suggests to me constantly, that since it knows the route that I don't have to be vigilant for signs of trouble. Most of my life I have chosen the easy way. At first, it seem almost certain that I have made the right choice. I find myself confident and thinking: "Piece of cake." But then the first sign of trouble appears. It may be as simple as road construction or a detour sign, but nevertheless the route doesn't seem so easy anymore. Before I know it, other warning signs appear -- all increasing my sense of unease and wariness. I am feeling less and less in control, and I'm becoming more and more unsure. Then I nearly run off the road for no apparent reason. I then dodge a collision with a traveler who seems distracted and un-attentive. I ask myself: "What happened? This was supposed to be the Easy Way?" What I find is that when I take the Easy Way, the destination is never rewarding. I may make to the destination safely, but I'm worn out and exhausted from the journey.
The few times that I have taken the 'Hard Way', the journey always begins with wariness and uncertainty. Since I don't know the route, I keep having to ask God for courage and strength to move forward. He simply asks me to Trust Him. I start my journey. I find that the more I trust, the more my trust is rewarded. The longer I travel, the more satsifying the journey becomes. Over time, it gets easier and easier. The destination is not only rewarding, but it leaves me with a sense of accomplishment, pride and quiet satisfaction. It feels aligned with the natural order. It feels connected to God. It feels RIGHT.
What I find is a paradox. I find that the easy way is the hard way and what I thought was the Hard Way -- is in fact the Easy Way. Surrender is aligning with God's will and saying: 'God, I don't know the route, but I trust you to get me there' -- and then letting go of the outcome.
The clearer I am on what surrender looks and feels like, the better my sobriety. For if I know what surrender looks and feels like, and then choose to do something different, then I know that I am not fully surrendered and may be moving towards willfulness -- and that is the complete opposite of willingness. Practice turning it over to God -- trusting him and asking Him for the strength to do His will. Then practice His will for you in that moment!
Direct surrender -- looks like this for me:
1. Take my medicine. Whatever my therapist/psychiatrist and/or doctor thinks I should be on to control whatever condition that would affect my mental, emotional or physical health, I need to take that medicine as my first act of surrender.
2. Prayer and meditation. I need to carve out time every morning (20-30mins) for P&M. I start with a feelings inventory. I then get really clear on what I'm powerless over that day and what is making my life unmanageable. Un-manageability is the consequences of my actions. Then I need to acknowledge what I'm grateful for and what I hope for that day. I then journal for 5-10 minutes. Finally, plugging in some inspirational music and praying the prayers of surrender (below) help me to connect with God. I also say other prayers -- especially step prayers. Lest I get caught up in me only, I'm careful to pray for God's will, and others, especially, my wife, children, sponsor, accountability buds, boss, company, etc. This has a way of taking me out of myself -- doing service work -- and keeping out of self pity.
3. Eating right and exercising. Three squares a day. Keep the caffeine down. Take a 20 minute walk -- nothing fancy -- the goal is to change your energy and get out of yourself.
4. Making a morning call to my sponsor and checking in my feelings, powerlessness, un-manageability, gratefulness and hopefulness. This call is a powerful form of surrender and plugs you into humility which is the antidote to acting out. I also get honest.
5. Making a minimum of one other call (preferably two) to an accountability partner. The goal here is to connect live. I keep dialing until I get a live voice on the other end. I check in first, since I made the call. I get honest. And then I always ask the accountability partner if they want to check in. I listen and offer feedback if the AP wants it.
6. Go to meetings. Twice a week whether I need them or not. I have to remember that sometimes my presence alone is of comfort to others.
7. Step work. I try to do one step a month (since I've already been through all 12). I must practice the tools of recovery to keep my 'scratch player' status. I don't want to play with a handicap. I always feel better after working a step and exercising the deep humility it takes to give a step in front of the group.
8. Program literature. At least twice a week, I set aside 30 minutes to read program literature. This keeps me grounded in the program fundamentals. I do it Mondays and Fridays as these are the toughest days in recovery for me. Mondays because its the start of the work week and Fridays because it is the end of the work week!
9. Spirituality and Religion. Take your faith seriously -- whatever your faith may be. In my faith, regular confession, the Eucharist and attending mass weekly, are three sacraments that can help me stay sober and surrendered. Each requires it's own act of surrender and I can't think of a better way to align myself with the God of my understanding.
A DAILY PRAYER OF SURRENDER
I come to you today, just as I am. I give you all my strengths and weaknesses, vices and virtues, hopes and fears, successes and failures, faith and doubt.
I cast all my fear and anxiety and insecurity upon you, trusting that you will do your part, trusting that you will show me what my part is (if any), and trusting that all things will work together for good - because I love you, and because I am called according to your purpose.
I receive your mercy, grace, and love into my life. Please help me to extend it to myself and others as well.
Please give me the wisdom to know your will for me, the willingness to accept it, and the courage and strength to do it. I need your help in each of these ways, for I cannot do any of them on my own.
Give me what I need for today -physically, spiritually, and emotionally. No more. No less.
May I live today with a heightened sense of your presence. May I catch glimpses of the eternal in all things. May I be aware of, and listen to, the promptings of your Holy Spirit.
I place my life completely and unreservedly in your hands, and trust that you will not let anything happen to me outside of your will for me.
I ask these things in the name and the power and the authority of Jesus Christ, my savior and friend.
Prayer of Surrender
If we prayed this prayer daily with faith and sincerity, I believe it could change our lives. It was composed by Father Walter Ciszek, a Jesuit priest from Shenandoah, PA who dedicated his life to clandestine missionary work in the Soviet Union. He spent over 20 years imprisoned in Russia, 5 of which were in solitary confinement. His cause for canonization is being put forth by the Allentown Diocese.
Lord, Jesus Christ, I ask the grace to accept the sadness in my heart, as your will for me, in this moment.
I offer it up, in union with your sufferings, for those who are in deepest need of your redeeming grace.
I surrender myself to your Father’s will and I ask you to help me to move on to the next task that you have set for me.
Spirit of Christ, help me to enter into a deeper union with you. Lead me away from dwelling on the hurt I feel:
To thoughts of charity for those who need my love, to thoughts of compassion for those who need my care,
and to thoughts of giving to those who need my help.
As I give myself to you, help me to provide for the salvation of those who come to me in need.
May I find my healing in this giving.
May I always accept God’s will.
May I find my true self by living for others in a spirit of sacrifice and suffering.
May I die more fully to myself, and live more fully in you. As I seek to surrender to the Father’s will, may I come to trust that he will do everything for me.
Prayer of Surrender
This prayer was written by St. Ignatius of Loyola.
Take, O Lord, and receive my entire liberty, my memory, my understanding and my whole will. All that I am and all that I possess You have given me: I surrender it all to You to be disposed of according to Your will. Give me only Your love and Your grace; with these I will be rich enough, and will desire nothing more.
Strength for the Journey
Michael John Poirer