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Surrender Happens 24/7

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When I came into OA, I was on the edge of a mental breakdown. I’d tried everything to stop my food obsession and my destructive food behaviors. I’d done a lot of work on myself and learned lots of self-help tricks, but nothing was working. I was numbing my feelings 24/7 and could not see a way out. That was my life, and I had to accept it . . . or so I thought.

Two years in recovery and a bit more than a year of abstinence has shown me a new facet of life. The first time I experienced a strong feeling, I went into a panic attack. I wasn’t used to have any sort of feeling, let alone a strong one.

At first, I had to surrender to the program. I had to learn what a plan of eating was and what healthy portions looked like. I did not want to make outreach calls or go to meetings, but I did because I wanted out of the prison I had created for myself.

The most challenging part of my recovery presented itself when I was a year abstinent. I came in touch with a new layer of delusion that scared me at first, but my recovery was already shaking years of ingrained misconceptions and old beliefs. God was asking me to surrender more. At the beginning, I was asked to surrender the externals I was clinging to, the ones that made me feel safe. But then came the surrender of other, more sophisticated safety mechanisms, ones that were showing up in the way I had developed love and connection with others.

Things like busyness started showing up as problematic and obstructive of my connection with God. Letting go of doing too much led to pockets of time where I was faced with a new feeling: boredom. Who am I if I am not doing something? Am I of true value if I’m not helping someone? When I came to the realization that God loves me whether I do something or don’t, I had to surrender the fear of not having validation from others that I was good enough. A new journey started.

“Let go,” I could hear the voice saying. “You’re safe, just because you are—no need to prove or to push.”

I felt an emptiness and feared crashing into despair and going back to destructive patterns. “Can I do this?” This question was my only prayer.

And then came the miracle, a new sense of power and connection.

The synchronicities I’ve experienced after that moment are beyond description, but what has felt even more liberating is a new level of awareness and faith: faith that I’m taken care of in any situation, faith that God will always be there.

In the past year, I’ve had to surrender worship of my career and let go of a very important position in a company because it wasn’t serving me anymore. I’ve had to surrender the idea that family comes first. I’ve learned that God comes first, and there is no negotiation in this. I’ve learned to surrender putting other people on a pedestal and making them my higher power, including my sponsor. I’ve had to let go of prejudices and pride. But I never found these more difficult than going through the experience of letting go of busyness and being faced with boredom.

Accepting that God is pure joy, light, and happiness—feelings that are experienced independently of what happens in the outside world—is a very difficult concept for an addict of my degree. But the moment I go within and connect to peace, to “the Presence of Infinite Power and Love” (Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., p. 56), is the moment I give God an opportunity to show up in my life. For me today, “God either is, or He isn’t” (p. 53); he is everything or he is nothing.

I’m infinitely grateful to be able to realize that surrender can happen 24/7. There is not one thing that cannot be surrendered to the infinite Power. As I am in my first two years of abstinence, I often find myself in some sort of withdrawal, and I am learning to be okay with it because today I want to know God more than anything. I want to be in church 24/7, never abandoning this Power that is showing me what needs to go and what needs to stay. For today, God is showing me that I am enough and that he loves me just because I am. I am a gift to the world and have been gifted with the ability to connect to the Power. Thank you, God, the Fellowship, and this OA Twelve Step program for sharing the discovery of what unconditional love is.

— Elena

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