Spiritual Surrender: The Art Of Saying “I Need Help”

Updated: Jan 15

Let me ask a question.

Do we really like to say “I can’t do this” about anything in life?

Before answering, think about the question. People for years have fought tooth and nail to keep their ways of life, beliefs, objects of desire, and “toys” because it feels so good.

Yet there are plenty of examples where alcoholics and addicts have practiced this way of life and found it turns into a train wreck.

Remember the first time someone suggested that you give up drinking, drugging, sex, love, gambling, working too much, overeating, caretaking, etc., in excess? I guarantee there was some resistance.

There is this weird thing in recovery when we surrender. The Third Step is all about surrender: “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.”

I can possibly speed through the first two Steps and admit powerlessness and unmanageability. When taking an honest look at my life and the wreckage of my past, it certainly shows that I have to make changes. After that, I am asked to believe that a Power greater than me can restore me to sanity.

Step Two might be the first time I have ever thought about any Higher Power in a different way. Many people enter recovery with a lot of ideas about God or Higher Power. Some stick to their original ideas; others throw out the baby and the bathwater. There are those who will not mess with the God thing. That’s why “We Agnostics” is a nice chapter in “Alcoholics Anonymous.” I highly suggest reading it with an open mind, even if you are a believer in God.

Spiritual surrender can send men and women literally to their knees. To me, it means that I can’t do this life thing like I have been. It means that I have to find something greater than my own brain to help me change.

Honestly, the first time we look at a person in the eyes and say “I need help” and mean it from the heart…that’s when things start cooking. It is the baby step that leads to other baby steps. Add those baby steps up over time and we can watch our lives change.

“I need help.” Say it right now. I don’t care if recovery is brand new or not.

Dang it, those three words are hard to say because — and this is from my own experience as a perfectionist — I have to take care of it all. That’s what runs in my head.

Some of my own internal script dates back to childhood: “I can’t trust you, Mom, to be there because you’ve abandoned me. You slam into walls when you are drunk and it scares me. I have to take care of you and do it perfectly.”

In writing about spiritual surrender, an element of trauma resolution starts taking place. If I simply admit that I have a problem and need help, then the trauma that I have been trying to shake like a bad cold gets addressed. Trauma issues are part of the “shadow” side that The Recovery Crew at Deep Waters discusses.

This spiritual surrender stuff is serious business. Sure, laughter and joy make recovery a little lighter and as alcoholics and addicts we’ve spent way too much time being serious in a very harmful way.

We do have to surrender the old patterns of living and change. It would be fantastic if I just told you straight up that we can stay like we are and make little adjustments. That’s not the truth.

“Our insides have to match our outsides.” What it means is I have to surrender, get clear on what my part is in the messes I have made, and begin the healing process. That’s also part of integrity, something else The Recovery Crew at Deep Waters talks about a lot.

Nobody likes to surrender. Ask someone in recovery if they like to surrender and admit defeat. Surrendering feels like wimping out.

Surrender is a spiritual key to a wholesome and healthy recovery process. We surrender addictive, obsessive, compulsive behaviors and attitudes a little at a time and the motor of change starts up…and we don’t have to do this alone. Let’s walk this path together.

It’s the start of something big.

-Joe Rutland

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