Surrender is not “Giving Up,” It IS “Giving Over!”

In war, an army surrenders when the enemy has sufficiently “beaten” the army into “submission.” In this case, surrender is defeat. To the alcoholic or addict, the enemy is the poison to which he or she is addicted.  Eventually-and unfailingly, the enemy wins. The paradox: In this defeat comes victory. We addicts come to understand that it isn’t “willpower” that gets us permanently sober. Just the opposite: It is total and complete surrender to a Power Greater Than Ourselves. Surrender is not “giving up!” It is “giving over!”

A powerful example of this concept can be found in my book’s first appendices: “AA: A Brief History”. I relate the co-founder of AA, Bill W’s, surrender story. This experience occurred after many years of uncontrolled drinking. A fellow “sober” alcoholic had testified to him of the power of God: (This experience can be found in the AA Big Book: Alcoholics Anonymous, published by Alcoholics Anonymous World Services Inc, 1976, Pages 7-13.)

“The frightful day came when I drank once more. The curve of my declining moral and bodily health fell off like a ski-jump. After a time I returned to the hospital. This was the finish, the curtain, it seemed to me. My weary and despairing wife was informed that it would all end with heart failure during delirium tremens, or I would develop a wet brain, perhaps within a year. She would soon have to give me over to the undertaker or the asylum They did not need to tell me. I knew, and almost welcomed the idea.”

“But my friend sat before me, and he made the point-blank declaration that God had done for him what he could not do for himself. His human will had failed. Doctors had pronounced him incurable. Society was about to lock him up. Like myself, he had admitted complete defeat. Then he had, in effect, been raised from the dead, suddenly taken from the scrap heap to a level of life better than the best he had ever known. Had this power originated in him? Obviously it had not: There had been no more power in him than there was in me at that minute; and this was none at all.”

“That statement hit me hard. It melted the icy intellectual mountain in whose shadow I had lived and shivered many years. I stood in the sunlight at last. It was only a matter of being willing to believe in a Power greater than I was. Nothing more was required of me to make my beginning.”

“At the hospital I was separated from alcohol for the last time. Treatment seemed wise, for I showed signs of delirium tremens. There I humbly offered myself to God, as I then understood Him, to do with me as He would. I placed myself unreservedly under his care and direction. I admitted for the first time that of myself was nothing;that without Him I was lost. I ruthlessly faced my sins and became willing to have my new-found Friend take them away, root and branch. I have not had a drink since.”

In a later record, Bill described more intimately the spiritual experience that occurred during his last stay in the hospital:

“My depression deepened unbearably, and finally it seemed to me as though I were at the very bottom of the pit. For the moment, the last vestige of my proud obstinacy was crushed. All at once I found myself crying out, ‘If there is a God, let Him show Himself! I am ready to do anything, anything.’  Suddenly the room lit up with a great white light. It seemed to me, in the mind’s eye, that I was on a mountain and that a wind, not of air but of spirit, was blowing. And then it (the idea) burst upon me that I was a free man. Slowly the ecstasy subsided. I lay on the bed, but now for a time I was in another world, a new world of consciousness. All about me and through me there was a wonderful feeling of Presence, and I thought to myself, ‘So this is the God of the preachers’.” [As Bill Sees It. 1967. Alcoholics Anonymous World Services Inc. pg. 2] Note: Bill stayed sober from this experience in 1937 until his death in 1971

In my next BLOG, I will relate my surrender story. Stay tuned:)

 

 

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Intended Audience for “Perfect Brightness of Hope” (Segment 1)

On a hot Sunday morning in July, 1980, following a week of heavy binge drinking and in great despair and hopelessness, I walked mile after mile through neighborhoods in the small Mormon community where I lived. As I walked, I observed many families leaving their homes to attend church. Even though I was filled with remorse and sorrow, I could still feel the goodness of these families. I realized that they had no idea of the sorrowful man who walked, with heavy burden, on the sidewalks of their neighborhoods. On that morning there arose within me a powerful conviction to someday write of my experiences as a Mormon alcoholic. (See page 85 of Perfect Brightness of Hope).

Contrary to the popular notion about my story, the intended audience for my “someday book” that morning was not the alcoholic or addict. It was just the opposite. The powerful desire I felt that morning was to someday help the “good person” —those with no clue about the plight of the alcoholic—to better understand this deadly disease and the plight of those who have it. I was filled with compassion towards the good people I saw that morning.  I felt that if I could someday increase their understanding of me as an addict/alcoholic, I would also increase their compassion toward me, and others like me.  (To be cont.)

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