My friend John has been asked to deliver a presentation to the recovery community about letting go, or in 12-step parlance, turning it over.
We talked about the challenges of turning it over and then taking it back. We each confessed that we’re guilty of the back-and-forth, pull and push of any given challenge or drama that for us, necessitates turning it over.
Then we decided that it’s hard to put into words what turning it over means.
After we talked a little more, I asked him whether turning it over was the child’s version of the adult’s surrender.
John thought about it for a bit and said, “Well, it does seem like surrendering is the final, ‘okay, God, I give up. You can have it.'”
At first I thought he was right. Now I’m thinking toe-may-toe/toe-mah-toe.
See what you think.
AA’s Step Three
While my upbringing in recovery is rooted in the 12 steps, I’also open to other teachings. I love exploring ideas so long as they’re spiritually sound and cast no negative vibes.
Step Three, as we know, goes like this, “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.” Admittedly, and taken out of context, that statement can be off-putting to newcomers who might rebel with a hearty, “WTF?”
But check out the language inherent in the step: turning it over.
The prayer associated with Step Three is beautiful, “God, I offer myself to Thee, to build with me and to do with me as Thy wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of Life. May i do Thy will always.”
That’s pretty much a willingness to surrender, wouldn’t you say? The key, I believe, is your motivation behind the words.
The Buddhist 12-Step Approach
Kevin Griffin writes about distinguishing between our lower selves–the addicted, self-inflicted, destructive me–and our higher selves–the me that is more loving, compassionate and connected to a higher power.
Kevin writes in his Huffington Post blog, “If we are to get and stay sober, we need to live less from the lower and more from the higher self. Turning our will and our lives over is the way we do this.”
The Buddhists believe it’s all about intention; in other words, why you do something is more critical than what you do.
Let’s say I’m struggling with the upset of losing my job (wow–there’s a shocking example, right?). The whole situation is really “eating my lunch.”
I can make a decision to turn it over and ask God (or any word you choose to insert) to remove it from me. Okay, that’s done. Check the box.
It sort of sounds like my intention is just to push it off my to-do list, doesn’t it?
But if my intention is really to move on, wish the former employer well while taking a deep compassionate breath, that’s different.
Committing to a better life
Do you see the difference in intention?
Kevin writes, “Turning our will over means that we now are clear about how we want to live, that we’ve committed ourselves to living skillfully and wisely . . . This shift of intention has a profound effect on the direction of our lives.
“Turning our lives over means that once we’ve changed our intention, we now change our actions.”
Okay, so turning it over isn’t as child-like as John and I first thought.
Here’s my final thought and I invite your conversation: Turning it over is the practice of letting go. Surrender is the final release.
Photo courtesy of amann