Sunday, January 01, 2006

A friend of mine, AnneGB, really has a lot to say.

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.

Mohawk philosophy lessons


Brenda said...

"... 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."

So, so true. I think I will print this out and frame it!

Anonymous said...

AnneGB, There are many Bloggernaclites that I appreciate and enjoy reading, but I find myself sliding to the edge of my seat when I start reading your posts. The scriptures say that "Truth shineth", and with you, I think that that is very true. Thank you, Thank you. Happy New Year, and thanks.


Anonymous said...

I've received my greatest blessing(s) when I have completed turned myself over to "thy will be done."

Lisa M. said...


I just love you. Thank you for what you share, and for all that you are.

lochan said...

Amazing post, Anne. Thanks for writing this.

Let us know when you start your own blog!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Anne. I agree with you about the AA Big Book, the steps, and essentially all recovery literature I have read. The third step is, indeed, a key step, and a difficult one. It is, for me, almost like a physical "leap of faith," and yet somehow God catches me.

I would add that the Church's new 12 step book has what I think is a beautiful discussion of the third step beginning at page 13.


Anonymous said...

This is beautiful. Thank you. I wonder why it can be so hard to trust that God will do the right thing. I have SO struggled with that, but am beginning to let go of my grasp of any illusion to "control" over my life I may have had. Thank you for this post.

Bryce said...

A wonderful post to start the new year. Thanks, Stephen and annegb.

Anonymous said...

" I had to struggle with and learn that only God's will can ultimately bring peace to our lives."

This is something I'm working through right now. Thank you so much for that post.

Steven B said...

Thank you Anne. Your words have blessed my life this day.

White Man Retarded said...

Hey, great post! I didn't make any resolutions this year; in fact, I never make resolutions at New Year. I think change for me is constant enough . Anyway, I thought about what you said, and I've decided to base my thoughts and actions on becoming closer to Christ. What can I do to become closer to Christ? I use to think along the lines of What do I do that doesn't bring me closer to Him? I think I am correct in stating this is self-defeating and negative. If I become closer to Him, then as a natural process all of those "Thou shalt nots..." and sinful practices (conscious and unconscious) will manifest themselves and fall away.

annegb said...

Thanks, you guys. It's scary to post, you know? It's way easier to sit back and comment on somebody else's post.

Louis, what a good question. I've asked myself the same thing many times. I was watching a movie about CS Lewis and he talked about just letting go. He experienced some kind of epiphany. I understood the words, but I didn't understand the experience. That is yet to come.

I think God likes us to ask, though. Many people don't even ask the question.

Sarebear said...

I so need to do this. I'm trying to figure out how. I've prayed this week, and said, Lord, I'm turning it over to you.

Also, the Lord will take our burdens upon him and make them lighter, so I've been trying to surrender and just let it happen. I've also asked for His help in turning things over to Him.

I dunno. It's do or die, and I guess I'll do, though I know not from where I'll pull the strength, yet again. The Holy Ghost has been with me this week, as a companion. And that has been sweet to me, the times I feel His companionship in the darkness.

I just hate sucking so much.

White Man Retarded said...

C.S. Lewis is a closet Mormon! Almost everything he writes flows with the Gospel. I wonder if you know of any comments he might of made about the Church? I cry everytime I read his depiction of the Lord in the Chronicles of Narnia (all volumes!). He was a powerful writer.

Anonymous said...

When I was hospitalized last March, I ended up in a unit that was part adult psych and part drug/alcohol rehab. Sitting in one of the group sessions that focused more on drinking/drugs I started to tune out since it wasn't why I was there, but I gradually realized that so much of what this a.a. leader was saying applied to my situation nonetheless.

I sat down and rewrote the 12 steps to personalize them for myself (referring to my specific challenges, terms for deity that I used, etc) and gained a new perspective.

Thank you for writing this--I need to pull out that list again. It really is a process of application. Thank you.