Much of my own journey has been about expanding my spiritual life. After my last post I got to thinking about how to explain this. This would be the same as me explaining a spiritual experience, it’s only value is that it may act as a pointer. If you have had a spiritual experience than perhaps my explanation may strike a chord with you. If you haven’t then it might just sound like nonsense. If you are on a spiritual path than perhaps my experience may reassure you or provide a direction or it may not. The point is I suppose that my experience is mine and no matter how I try to explain it, it will never be yours.
So I decided that I would write about some of the spiritual principles and how when we practice them our spiritual life expands.
Now finding spiritual principles to write about was yet another challenge as it seems there are differing versions of principles associated with the 12 steps. In fact I came across a list of 31 spiritual principles of recovery. I’m not so sure there needs to be a definitive list of spiritual principles. I believe there are some universal spiritual principles that we can all agree upon. I’ll try to touch on as many as I can in the next several posts.
Surrender is one of the first spiritual principles we come into contact with when we begin the journey of sobriety. Our first experience with surrender comes when we identify ourselves as an alcoholic or addict. The simple phrase, “my name is _______ and I am an alcoholic/addict” can be the most difficult thing we will ever do. And yet this simple phrase can open the door to a new life.
As Step One asks us in the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, “Who cares to admit complete defeat?” Certainly we must have been beaten severely to admit complete defeat. There can be no doubt, we will never be able to use successfully. When beaten this badly, the only option is to surrender. What is often hardest to see at first is that we are not giving up the fight. The fight continues, only now we are on the winning side.
So what is spiritual about surrender?
It is hard to find the spiritual nature in surrendering in a battle. We can look at it as giving up, or losing. The feelings and emotions that this perspective brings however are negative. When we give up or lose, feelings of inadequacy, embarrassment lol surrender at 20 sometimes fear are what follow.
But we are not giving up and certainly not losing. We are joining the winning side. Still what’s spiritual about that?
You have probably heard people speak of a “state of surrender.” Here, I believe, is where we begin to touch our spiritual nature. Surrendering to our disease is not something we do once. We must do it over and over again. We must remain forever surrendered to it. This it can be said is living in a state of surrender.
That first admittance of defeat, the surrender to addiction is where we begin to subjugate our ego. It is often our first honest act in sobriety. I entered the rooms with the “gift of desperation.” Everything I had thought to be true about myself was finally exposed as a lie. And I had no idea how things got to that point. I had puffed myself up and told stories of who I was as a way of protecting my ego. Then in defeat my ego deflated. My lies were exposed. I was nothing. It was only from this point that I could surrender and honestly begin to find my true self.
Surrendering to our addiction is just the beginning. Soon we find that in order to live a balanced and joyful life we must surrender to all kinds of things. We cannot continue to fight people and institutions and ideas if we want to live a life of serenity. So we surrender. We cease fighting. We don’t give up, and we certainly don’t let others walk all over us. We just stop fighting.
So surrender starts the process of ego deflation. It is here that we admit that we do not have all of the answers. We come to the realization that we must let some one or thing take control. This too is where we begin to develop some sense of humility. We begin to understand our place in the universe and come to understand that we are like a grain of sand on the beach. A very small part of something much larger.
Once we surrender completely acceptance begins to be a tool for daily life. Living in a state of surrender permits us to accept things that are not as we would have them. We cease fighting and surrender to what is.