When you learn about addiction and its compulsive tendencies, you can start to understand that you’ve been up against the impossible. Even now, you might think “if I can say or do the right thing, I can make __________________ quit. Then you try that, and you get even worse results. How frustrating.
Surrender is the opposite of effort. It’s where you openly acknowledge your inability to conquer your circumstances. You start by saying “I can’t”.
It’s vital to understand that the addiction is stronger than an addict. At first, drugs and alcohol or other addictive behaviors are usually fun or provided relief to the addict. But over time, the fun is a full-time job. It becomes a never ending hunt to access the next high. Simply put – that addiction controls them. That’s why you are astonished by their behavior and attitudes. They are in bondage to drugs or alcohol (or other behaviors) that leads them to actually serving the need at any and all costs.
That’s why the first and most important step in any recovery process is the acknowledgement of powerlessness toward the addiction itself. Step One in the 12 Step programs says this:
We admitted we were powerless over our addiction – that our lives had become unmanageable
In full swing, an addict has no idea how powerful their “disease” is until they come to the place of recognizing their own weakness. As we’ll learn shortly, this truth helps us tremendously in learning our role.
But the important thing to ask yourself, how have you been dragged through addiction? What have you done to try to overcome addiction in someone’s life? You’ve been dragged through the addiction too.
Go back to Step 1. And read that as “I admit I am powerless over ______________ and my life has become unmanageable.” One of your intervention tools is your own ability to accept that statement as personal truth. In fact, you may want to write that somewhere where you can see it and remind yourself of it throughout the day. That may not feel good, but please don’t let that discourage you. If you can recognize that you can’t control ________________ you’ll be positioned for what we know is Biblical surrender. It may feel like defeat, but not when you are surrendering to God.
Surrender is a mindset – it’s where we place our trust and our hope in God rather than ourselves. We wait expectantly for His leadership to guide us. We are not out on the front line dictating what that should look like. Instead, we sit until we hear the command.
When we have attempted to fix things ourselves, we couldn’t recognize our limitations and our vulnerabilities. It’s somewhat like a child taking off down the highway in a tricycle. Not only is that child up against the impossible, but is also in a place of extreme danger.
God sees us in the same way. Our efforts have had unattainable results. No matter how fast we pedal, that destination can never be achieved. Why? Because it’s actually a power struggle, not an issue of effort. The little tricycle has no engine and no power. It wasn’t designed to be on the highway. In the same way, even at our very best, we are overpowered by the nature of addiction. We need God to come rescue us in the vehicle of His grace. But God isn’t judging us, He is waiting to allow Him to help us with deeper compassion and mercy. He knows our situation, and He also knows only He can handle it.
Being in God’s hand doesn’t require skill or super-religious status. Surrender is the act of connecting. We actually don’t need to do to much to be connected. Connection is an act of trust and faith. Like an appliance requiring power in order to operate, we learn that it’s our primary job to plug into God – not to go off and try to solve problems on our own strength. This involves relationship building, and it may be a need in your life that you’re not sure how to develop. That is part of your journey.
When it comes to the lifestyle of addition, our efforts stemmed from a desire to help someone we value and love. To surrender leaves us in a vulnerable state. It makes us feel powerless, and it takes away any security that we can somehow alter this situation. We suddenly feel the weight of “what if.” When we are doing, we can feel that we are in some way altering the outcome. This is extremely challenging. Because that means surrender is our own personal intervention moment where we have to face the truth that “I can’t.”
Submitting to surrender, however, isn’t about giving up or leaving the relationship. It’s an act of transferring the person we love from our care into God’s hands. Surrender is a state of dependence on God’s resources rather than our own. But it’s where you can gain clarity, hope and strength. Surrender is where God’s power starts to be activated on your behalf. It goes like this: “I can’t, God help me.” The Bible says it this way:
My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. – 2 Corinthians 12:9
You may want to post that bible passage someplace visible to remind yourself that God is most interested in your weakness, not in your strength. What a backwards way to think, but it truly unlocks the beginning of personal freedom and hope.
Most surrender will occur when we can get quieted internally. We oftentimes don’t realize how loud the noise of crisis becomes when each day brings new drama. Getting quiet is where you will find God the most. It may require you find a totally private place where you can create a sanctuary. In stillness and quietness, that connection can be formed. The reason is that trust and faith bring us into God’s strength. Whereas personal effort and busyness typically keep us away. The Bible says this:
Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength. – Isaiah 30:15
A Suggested Activity:
Find a quiet place you go where you have access to download a song. Music is one of the best ways to calm our spirit. You can pick any music you know that will quiet your heart. One of our favorites is the song by Casting Crowns called “Just Be Held.” We encourage you to listen to this song and meditate on the words.
As you listen, try to visualize somehow giving yourself to Jesus. Maybe you hold his hand, or sit next to him. Maybe He picks you up and carries you. Pictures help things we can’t see be more real. You don’t need to read the Bible in this moment (although we encourage separate devotional time) – because it’s all about connecting.
If this seems hard, don’t worry. You can’t really get it wrong. Also, when we begin to connect to God, we may also feel emotion uncover. No matter the emotion, let it out. You may want to write the emotion out so you better understand and define it. While this material won’t cover it, your own healing happens in the ability to purge what’s happening in your heart.