Yesterday, I discussed different transitions in life that require us to be ready. We plan, we prepare, and we embark on new journeys. We do our best to to anticipate everything yet know that there will be some obstacles, some challenges, that will take us by surprise. So we become entirely ready by being ready to endure in the face of those obstacles.
In sobriety, being entirely ready relates to the next step after the confession. Once we have acknowledged what we have done wrong and shared that with ourselves, God, and another person, we then begin to strip those things that led us to our wrongdoings out of our lives .
It is not enough to just acknowledge one’s wrongdoings. That is an important step. But the next essential step is to begin the process of changing one’s life.
When I looked over my moral inventory, it became quite clear to me that I had several issues that needed to addressed. While I was in my addiction, I was able to blame alcohol. But having removed the substance from my life, I realized that the substance of my life was essentially the same. The parts of me that were dark and manipulative and controlling and dismissive were still there. Alcohol did not create them; it only masked them.
Now, the mask was off. So I had to make a choice: would I embark on the part of the journey that required me to make several changes? Was I entirely ready for God to remove all these defects of character?
What did entirely ready mean? I had often balked at making any change in my life because I convinced myself I couldn’t do it. It would be too hard. I would be too weak. So since I could not imagine being able to face every obstacle, I never tried. Because I couldn’t even imagine every possible scenario, I stopped myself from even attempting sobriety. But I had to realize that being entirely ready did mean knowing and preparing for every potential obstacle. Being entirely ready meant I had finally come to the point in my life when I knew that my past actions were no longer good enough. I was ready for change. I was ready to keep the mask off.
What did it mean that God, and not me, would be doing the removal? Part of my hesitation was the arrogant belief that I would be the one doing all the work. Combine that arrogance with the lack of self-worth that led me to believe I was not good enough to do all the work, and I was paralyzed.I finally had to admit that I could not do all the work–not because I wasn’t good enough but because I needed a strength greater than my own. The process of 12 step recovery was essential for me here, because I had already done the work of acknowledging and beginning to rely on God. So at this point in my recovery, I learned it was time to let God do what I believed God could do.
Can we apply this to more than just recovery from addiction? This season on the Christian calendar is called Lent: it is preparation for Easter, Resurrection Sunday. During this season, many people fast from food or other substances or sometimes activities in order to remember that it is God who sustains us, not the things of this world. It is a time when we remember that we are human–we came from dust and we will return to dust. In order to grow spiritually, we must let God do the work.
So if you are someone who follows a faith tradition, it is likely you have some tradition or practice that reminds you of your need to be entirely ready: you want to have the shortcomings removed, you are willing to face the challenges and difficulties that lie ahead, and God will be doing the work.
So are you ready? There is much work yet to be done.