Surrender is a word often used in 12-step programs. In fact, “surrender to win” is one of the most common expressions heard in the rooms of recovery and it is applied to a number of different life situations. But what does it really mean to surrender? And how can surrender be associated with winning? After all, to surrender means to give up. Is it really possible to win something when you have given up the fight?
Surrender is something many recovering people struggle with. For starters, the word conjures images of prisoners of war putting their hands in the air to surrender to an enemy. Many associate the word with law enforcement – like when a man gives himself up to the police after a high-speed chase or turns himself in on a warrant. You may even think of the international symbol of surrender when you hear the word –the waving of a white flag. When a person waves a white flag in a combat situation, he or she is indicating they have accepted defeat and are ready to give up their position. None of these examples casts the notion in a good light, so it’s no wonder addicts and alcoholics resist this concept when they begin working a program!
The moment of surrender is not when life is over. It’s when it begins
Let’s take another look at what it means to surrender
Yes, surrender does mean, quite literally, “to give up.” In the context of battle, giving up brings about negative consequences and may even change the course of history. But, in the context of your fight to stay sober, surrendering can only benefit you. It will help change your attitudes, behaviors, and outlook, not to mention improve your relationships with others. It will also allow you to live a much more God-focused life, which allows you to live in the moment instead of trying to control the outcome.
At the most basic level, you must first surrender your drug and alcohol problem if you want to be successful in recovery. For many, the first attempt is quite easy. After months of trying to keep it all together, in spite of the overwhelming evidence that drug addiction and/or alcoholism had taken complete control, giving up can be a liberating experience.
When you acknowledge that self-will has run riot and your life is in shambles, you really have no other option than that of unconditional surrender. After fighting to be victorious over the bottle, the pipe or the needle, you come to understand that the only way to win is to surrender.
If you want to get your life back on track, you have to give up the idea that you are in control and that by some miracle, you can pull it all together. By finally saying to your addiction, “Okay, you win. I am powerless over you. I give up trying to prove to myself that I can beat you at your own game,” you win. Putting an end to your drug or alcohol abuse and admitting powerlessness means you no longer walk your path alone and bear your burdens in secret.
You will arrive at many places that require surrender
You may have to surrender your addiction to caffeine, an unhealthy relationship or a job that is causing you problems. More importantly –and this happens on a moment-to-moment basis –what you must learn to surrender is your own will. This means you must learn to take your hands off the steering wheel of your life and give control to your Higher Power. This allows you to surrender your perceived power and allow God to work out the details of your life in a very powerful way.
Learning to surrender is no small task. Talk to your sponsor about the power of surrender and how you can learn to partake of this spiritual practice. Make a commitment, just for today, that you will give up the fight and surrender to win.