Many of you who have worked with me know that A Course in Miracles (ACIM) and 12-Step Recovery principles continue to play a huge role in my personal healing. Growing upwith an alcoholic father means that I’ve always been wary of alcohol and drugs, thusavoiding “ingestive” addictions that involve swallowing a substance like whiskey orcocaine. My parents taught me that I had to compete to get ahead, and I learned that myvalue was based on tangible achievements like grades, money, and home ownership.Most importantly I believed that I needed LOVE in my life, and without that certainsomeone to complete me I was nothing.
When I first saw ACIM at on a friends book-case I was at the height of my loveaddiction, which showed itself primarily as attachment to sex, romance, and relationshipsto provide me with the mood alteration that I craved. Like any true addict, there wasnever enough of the love that I needed, and I never felt like I was enough. I opened thethick blue book to read: “Tolerance for pain may be high, but is not without limit.Eventually everyone begins to recognize, however dimly, that there must be a betterway…” I was hooked, and became ACIM student that very night.
About this time I experienced a revelation while attending a 12-step meeting forcodependents. I realized with a jolt that I had made my partner into my “HigherPower”….yikes! For the first time I was able to introduce myself whole-heartedly at thosemeetings. “I’m Jill, a relationship addict .” (Now I say, “a recovering relationship addict“)I admitted that I‘m powerless, and stopped searching outside of myself for someone toreassure me that I was lovable, that I was enough.
The Course tells us, “You must have noticed an outstanding characteristic of every endthat the ego has accepted as its own. When you have achieved it, it has not satisfied you.This is why the ego is forced to shift ceaselessly from one goal to another, so that you willcontinue to hope it can yet offer you something.” The ego (also identified by some asSatan or the silver-tongued devil or logical, mature thinking!) constantly tells us that weare never enough, not smart enough, not attractive enough, not “in love” enough. I hadbeen buying into this hateful message. I desperately needed another way of looking at theworld and I was determined to find it!
The 12 step meetings had provided friendship, fellowship that provided the real lifeexperience, strength and hope that I needed. ACIM gave me a course of study that taughtme to live in love instead of fear, and advised me to surrender to God rather than pursuingthe path of my own misguided ego. The words of the Course soothed me, and themessage felt right, but “surrender” was terrifying. I believed that I had been controlling allaspects of my life, so I couldn’t imagine releasing any part of it to God. Better for me tobe in charge!
My years of experience in 12 step meetings introduced me to the fact that I am powerlessover people, places, and situations outside myself. I had worried that a surrendered orpowerless life would seem passive, defeatist, and lacking in passion. As I continue tostudy the Course I am learning that surrender is not about defeat; it’s about acceptance,joy, and faith. As the 12 Step Big Book says, we will feel our serenity level rise as we letgo of attachment to outcome. Acceptance is the key.
Surrender is about ending the struggle in our lives when we admit that we’re not incontrol, get ourselves (and our egos) out of the way and trust God (as we understand God)to guide us. Those of us uncomfortable to the “G-word” can substitute, Love, Universe,Divine Order – whatever terminology works One of my early teachers used to mutter“Trust the process.” when life became difficult. “Release your mind, and you will lookupon a world released.”
Whatever we are clutching most tightly is probably the exact thing we need to let go.Whatever we’re most afraid of losing, may be what we need to release to make way forsomething better. As I look at my life I can see that life flows abundantly in the areaswhere I’m not attached, not clinging As Marianne Williamson has written, “The TrueAbundance of the world is magnetized to the serene presence.” In the areas of my lifewhere I am most spacious, as Buddhists say, I can experience relaxed receiving. Myhands are open.
Surrendering to Love means letting go of the barriers to love in our lives. It meansperceiving only love and giving only love. Sometimes it seems there is only hopelessness,sadness, grief, or tragedy. Yet, when we choose love and act with love we receive loveand peace in our lives – all ways, and even in the most unlikely circumstances. Sometimesthis peace won’t arrive on our timetable, but it always arrives.
Spiritual surrender frees us from fear and anger and points us in the best and highestdirection for all concerned. It leads us to a life that is more joyful and abundant than weever dreamed. Practicing spiritual surrender enables us to release our attachment to theillusions of this world. By surrendering our will and the logic of our rational minds, wecan experience power much more potent than magic. We can experience miracles.
Jill Denton, LMFT