For most of my early recovery, I’ve “carried a torch” for some close friends and family. I think I’ve shared before in my blog how I’ve carried the burden to pray for them every morning and during every moment of silence. Four are using buddies from my past or from my relapses for whom I carry a particular burden – admittedly, probably a burden of guilt for my part in their relapse or addictive behavior. But, I figured that it was still a good thing to do. But, I’m coming to realize it might be the right thing, but not for the right reasons.
Last night, I had this dream about one of the friends I pray for who is going through some difficult events in his life, albeit without drinking or drugging. At the end of the dream, he committed suicide and “seeing” the act of him slitting his wrists woke me up.
I woke up very sad and very scared, in tears.
I started praying for my friend. That’s all I know how to do. I realized I’m so helpless.
As I laid in bed pondering the dream, I thought about the topic at tonight’s meeting: surrender. It’s not a sign of weakness like general society would lead me to believe, and like I chose to believe for most of my life. The paradox is we get power when we surrender.
I still wrestle with how I best help a friend in need – a newcomer to recovery – a member of my home group who is struggling. How do I reach out the hand of Recovery without being pushy or co-dependent, working someone else’s program? I’m afraid to get it wrong and hurt someone in the end.
I reflected more on some recent events where my attempts to reach out blew up in my face, causing someone to get angry with me and resentful. As I work through my feelings that come with this rejection, I realize I’m sad at losing a friendship and angry for being misunderstood. But I also realize that at the heart of my reaction is a fear of rejection – a concern or worry about what people think of me. Which also means that the corollary must be true — I was on some level seeking acceptance, hoping my actions would be appreciated by others and “win me favor” with them.
That tells me my ego is still in the way, still present in my prayers or my actions. I still think somehow that it’s me…my actions…my words that will make the difference — that I’ll save them! It’s similar to taking pride in the results of my recovery, somehow thinking that it’s my strength or actions that are getting me through the tough times.
That’s not how this works.
It’s not me.
Sobriety is a gift.
As long as I think it’s me, my ego gets in the way — and yea, I should be afraid! Left to my own devices, I won’t know what to do – I will hurt others – I will make bad decisions for myself because of my illness and addictive mind.
And yet, the true beauty in my recovery is in surrendering. Letting go. I’m not responsible for the outcomes — just doing the next right thing for the right reasons. I’m not responsible for other people’s success or failure — in recovery or anything else for that matter.
I can pray until I’m blue in the face and ask for my Higher Power to help someone find freedom. But, really in doing so, I’m implying somehow that their Higher Power isn’t already looking out for them and that somehow, my prayers – or my actions – are going to “tip the scales” and make the difference between success and failure, life and death.
So are the prayers for them – or are they really for me? Am I somehow motivated by guilt because of my part in their story? Or, perhaps by a desire to be in control — to “play God?”
As I prayed and meditated after the dream, I came to a new understanding. I don’t need to pray for these 6 people by name EVERY day, at EVERY meeting – as I have done, with some (self-centered) (egotistical) pride if I’m completely honest! In fact, that’s working against what I need – which is to surrender them, to let go — and then to know that my Higher Power is in control. In that, I can know peace.
It doesn’t mean that prayer doesn’t work or have value. And it doesn’t mean I shouldn’t reach out the hand of recover when asked. But, as I pray for them today, the motivation is still very self-centered. If I can learn to let go and surrender, that is where the true power is.
At the heart of this realization is a more profound understanding of surrender and what it means. And, in that growth, I believe I’ve been given permission to turn them over to His care. So with that, I will cease praying for them ’til I’m blue in the face…and let go.
Sobriety is a gift. It’s not the result of my actions, or my prayers — for me or for anyone else.
What I’m responsible for is doing the next right thing for the right reasons — and letting go of the outcomes. I’m responsible for working on my spiritual condition – my relationship with my Higher Power. The rest is up to, and because of, Him.
- Prayer and the Spiritual Journey (christophersmark.wordpress.com)
- What Type of Prayer Works Best? (grantlawrence.blogspot.com)