I don’t know about you, but this word, prior to recovery, never held a positive connotation for me! I mean think about it – If an individual or a group says, “I, (we) surrender!”, did that mean they won or lost? In the old movies when folks were in a battle and the white flag went up, what did it mean? It meant “I surrender” AND it meant “you win…I loose”. Well… this is not something I ever wanted to do!
So coming in to recovery, what’s the first thing I start hearing? You got it…surrender! Well, “I” did not like that at all! To me it didn’t just mean that “I lost”. It was like saying “I’m a looser”. Those are two very different things. So what does surrender mean anyway?
Well, the word surrender has several definitions:
(a) A verbal act of admitting defeat.
(b)To relinquish possession or control over.
(c) To relinquish to the power of another.
(d) To give up or agree to forgo to the power or possession of another.
I found those definitions interesting. Upon gaining a grasp of the meaning of this word better, I was also able to understand that “surrender” was really nothing new in my life.
As a child I surrendered to the authority of my parents and once in school I surrendered to the authority of the institution and teachers over me. As a member of society I surrendered to the “laws of the land” and during work, to my employers. In my addiction I surrendered to the bottle, the dope dealer and my disease. In early sobriety I surrendered to the treatment facility and in recovery I surrendered to God.
So, while it is true that there are plenty of negative aspects to this word “surrender”, there are many more simply realistic and positive aspects to it. I mean in my recovery, every time I’ve laid it all down and surrendered a situation, (my self and my will to God), there has come peace, stability and joy.
So just what are some ways I “surrender” in recovery? Well, when I “obtain and use a sponsor, join and become active in a home group, work the steps under the direction of my sponsor, utilize my Big Book to identify my problems and seek out solutions and not only ask but strive to rely upon God to do for me what “I” can’t --- these are all “actions of surrender”. Surrender is NOT a feeling, it is an ACTION. I surrender “my direction” to instead, “seek outside of myself & follow the direction of another.”
In the AA Big Book, “The Doctor’s Opinion”, (XXX – last paragraph), it enables us to see surrender through the action of “willingness”. Through my willingness to read this book through, though perhaps I came to “scoff”, I would remain to pray. (I surrendered my will through the action and the result was humility and growth.) In Step 1 “We admitted we were powerless and our lives had become unmanageable” – We give a demonstration of surrender by our “admissions”.
“Sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly” – For many of us this action of surrender occurs through the steps. Each of the steps brings about more and more surrender through our actions. And the end result? Spiritual growth and continued sobriety.
by Rebecca B.