This guest post is by her, and it says things that I think are important for each of us in the new year.
Post, by annegb
I've made a big deal out of the fact that I am an alcoholic and also attend Al-Anon, an organization for people who have friends or relatives who are addicts/alcoholics. It's a character defect, I think, because it makes me different, ie special, in this traditional LDS Utah town where I live. And I live to stick out, for some cruel quirk of fate.
There is another reason, also, though. It doesn't bother me to admit I'm an alcoholic, I'm not embarrassed, and I want to empower others in my position to get help, to abandon the shame. So I am not all ego.
However, the purpose of this post is not my hubris or iconoclastic tendencies. I have learned something from my inconsistent attendance at AA and Al-Anon meetings. I have grown from applying those principles.
I want to share here a couple of things I have learned which have blessed my life. One is not more important than the other, but one is my main point.
First, I have never heard anything in a meeting, (which is similar to a blogging "meeting" where the "chair" will introduce a topic, share on that topic and open it for discussion) either from the chair or those who choose to share, that is not in harmony with the restored gospel. Never. I have never read anything in all the literature, and it is considerable, and I've read, and re-read most of it, that is not in harmoy with the restored gospel.
I listen carefully to the conference talks and am delighted when I hear speakers talk in a way that is in harmony with Al-Anon principles, like turning our will over to God. I assume these men are not members of AA, so I also then conclude that this is a principle from God.
Which brings me to my main point today. Turning our will and lives over to the power of God. This is the third step of AA, Al-Anon, every 12-step group: "Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the CARE (note that important )of God, as we understand Him."
How a person does that, the process, is different in each person. No one tells us exactly how to do it, it's predicated on working the first and second steps, which I will not dwell on today.
It is basically an inner process. Some people do it more formally, a formal prayer or written process, then continue to follow up daily, or at least regularly, with a re-commitment to turn it over. These are the lucky ones.
Some do it less formally, but still consistently. Some, like me, do it great for a week, then forget there is a God, get defeated and come crawling back once in awhile.
It is work, that daily turning over of my will to God. I have to get down on my knees (this is my own condition, I do not believe it is necessary to always have formal prayer, indeed, I think it takes many forms), and say the words "God, I give this day to you. This is what I want/need to do today. But if you have other plans, I surrender. I will act as if I am going to do these things, but if other things come up, I will assume they are from you and I will RE-act accordingly."
Then I tell Him about my needs or responsibilities for that day. I pray for my family. I used to ask Him for specific things for them, like "let Jared stop drinking" or "let Sarah not get in a wreck" or "let" something. "Let" seems to be a word I've adopted.
But now, more often, I ask Him to guide my words and actions. I ask Him to help me respond in a way to my children and loved ones that will bless their lives and ask that His will be done in their lives. I've structured my prayers differently. Less control issues, more surrender.
Now, again, I say, for me, this is work. A long prayer for me is about twenty minutes. A normal prayer is about five minutes. But then, I talk fast, as you could imagine. The attitude I approach my morning prayer is the same attitude I approach cleaning my oven.
"Oh crap, it has to be done. I will watch the news first. Maybe a glass of juice. Oh, yuck it is so dirty. Maybe tomorrow."
Same with praying. I think about it. I don't jump out of bed and get on my knees. I talk myself into it.
However, and this is the punch line. It works every time. That doesn't mean my days go perfectly or I do everything I want to do, or I am nice all day. It just works. That's the only way I can say it. I work. Things work out well on those days I turn over to the Lord. Things get accomplished in an almost miraculous way.
So that at night, my prayers are just "thank you for the help today." My night prayers are almost always very short prayers of gratitude.
After all that hemming and hawing and putting off, taking that 5-20 minutes to turn things over to God makes the rest of the day flow. I might even take a couple of hours to decide to do it. To pray and turn it over. Then the real miracle happens.
I don't do it every day. I don't even do it every week. I am a work in progress and very much flawed and lazy.
My New Year's resolution this year is to pray every morning. I urge you, as well, to try some type of regular "turning it over" as opposed to whatever you might think a well-behaved latter day saint should do. There is great power in giving control, will, and power to our God. It is a quiet and wonderful thing, though, and it is a slow, daily process, not a big "blessing-of-you."
I hope this has made sense and in my awkward way. I fought this concept for many years because I didn't trust God to do the right thing, which would be whatever I thought should happen. I had to struggle with and learn that only God's will can ultimately bring peace to our lives.
God bless us, every one this year.
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