Surrender - A Sponsor's View

by Daphne K.

Surrender, in the context of spirituality and religion, is defined as acceptance and yielding to the will and teachings of a Higher Power.

From my perspective, surrendering to God’s will is a mainstay of this program of spiritual recovery. It is purely a volitional act. We have come to a place where human aid has failed us and practicing the third step of “turning our lives and will over to the care of God as we understood him” was our way to a sane and serene life.

Working with sponsees in sharing my experience, strength, and hope, I explain that until I let go of the vestiges of self will, I could not move forward in my recovery. “It was only when I gave up being in charge that the reality of abstinence with peace of mind entered my life” (For Today, p 2). I ask myself and my sponsees if I am willing to let God into all domains of life. Surrender, for me, is a state of letting go and letting God in all areas.

On the other hand, compliance, according to the dictionary, means the act of acquiescing to a wish or command. My experience with compliance is that, though there is choice involved, coercion can also be at play. The thread which I find absent from compliance is spirituality. I can, however, bring God into all of the areas of my life. I can pray for the willingness to be compliant in a certain area of my life, such as compliance to a medical regimen. But, for me, this is also about surrender. As suggested above, I practice the third step on a daily basis.

But this is just part of the conversation. So another thing some sponsees have found helpful is to write the story of their experience with things religious and spiritual and talk about that. What beliefs or attitudes to faith or spirituality was he or she raised with? What experiences or people shaped his or her beliefs? What changed over time?

Many of us probably balk at the word compliance. Wasn’t this the word used to adhere to one of the many diets I pursued? Certainly, to be abstinent, I refrain from my trigger foods/ingredients. In addition, I follow a meal plan. Though I have used the word compliance in my professional life, I never remember using it in the context of my recovery or of those I sponsor.

Compliance may have gotten a bad rap here. The word however to this compulsive overeater has negative connotations. I follow a meal plan. I choose to refrain from non-abstinent foods. In this case, it’s semantics.

But the gulf between surrender and compliance is wide. True surrender can be the path to recovery and a spiritual awakening. Compliance by itself lays no firm foundation upon which recovery can flourish.