Worldwide, millions of people embrace The 12 Steps, a pattern for living based on spiritual principles. My own recovery overlaps daily with my role as a pastor, and I can say unequivocally, “This blueprint can be freeing and empowering for everyone!”
Beginning in this blog, I will share the value that I – and countless others – have found in these simple suggestions. I will take liberty with the wording of the Steps to embrace a wider spectrum of experience.
Step #1: We admitted we were powerless over (obsession, worry, compulsion, addiction)—that our lives had become unmanageable.
Don’t recoil from this truth because of the words powerless and unmanageable. The Steps do not deny the efficacy of individual will. Self-directed action is essential to a new way of life. What this Step addresses is the ILLUSION OF CONTROL.
I have attended the bedsides and gravesides of many whose earthly days were over. We spent hours reflecting on life, immersed in the sacramental Shekinah of its brevity.
And there is one truth upon which we all agree: the hours we spend worrying, fretting, and obsessing about things beyond our control are a murder of TIME – life’s most precious commodity.
Jesus once said: Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Translation: if we want to live fully in the present, pointless ruminations must cease. We must jettison our obsession with things over which we are powerless. These thought patterns do nothing but groove our brains in mutated ways, draining our spiritual lifeblood. We engage in them for the purpose of control, but the great irony is that they make our lives unmanageable. Here are a few.
• Trying to predict the outcome of future events.
• Obsessively regretting past mistakes.
• Worrying about the perceptions others have of us.
• Fretting over finances.
• Stressing about health issues.
• Attempting to change the behavior of another person.
Unless we have the clinical condition called Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, there are so many ways to release control: counseling, meditation, mental redirection, walks in nature to absorb the beauty of Creation, engagement in creative activities that frees our spirits.
Here is when willpower comes into play. To put it ironically, “We must do everything in our power to rest in the knowledge of our powerlessness.” This is what Thich Nhat Han means when he says, “I vow to let go of all worries and anxiety in order to be light and free.” Vows are kept through daily disciplines and mantras that give us serenity, courage, and wisdom.
This is why 12 Step meetings begin and end with two familiar prayers, setting needed boundaries on our lunacy: The Serenity Prayer and The Lord’s Prayer.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy will be done…
Dear friends, do what you can; let go of the rest. Savor this precious day!