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Surrender, Surrender, Surrender

Dec 31, 2019

Bart Ross, Recovery & Alumni Services Coordinator

A single surrender is not enough. Our first surrender was admitting complete defeat over alcohol and the unmanageability in our own life. (Step 1) and a willingness to submit to a Higher Power (Step 2). These two Steps happen simultaneously. Bill W. refers to it in his story as “How dark it is before the dawn!”

Surrender means to feel, not just in our head, but in our whole body. “We learned that we had to concede to our innermost selves we were alcoholics.” When we surrender we live—when we don’t we (fill in the blank). A spiritual surrender is surrendering to life as it is. “Thy will, not mine, be done.” The way we surrender here means that we turn our thoughts and actions over to the will of a Higher Power. (Step 3) “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.”

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Yes, we have been given the ability to think and take action. I’ve experienced that when I bring God into my decision-making and with me wherever I go, my life goes much better. Then I try my hardest to do the best and accept the results. Strange how the human condition is, even though we become aware of this, we don’t always do it.

One-third of the 12 Steps involve taking inventory of how we’re living (4, 5, 10 & 11). The Twelve Steps as a way of life urges repeated inventories, not just one.

(Steps 4/5) “A business which takes no regular inventory usually goes broke.”

I’ve noticed each time I do a 4th & 5th Step through the years how my ego changes. It becomes time again for letting go of the old that no longer works. What becomes obvious is that it’s time for another surrender. This requires another leap of faith. In this surrender, we have to let go of what we can’t control; I know I can hang on to control until my fingers bleed. What becomes apparent again is how disconnected we’ve been from ourselves, others, and God. Surrender here implies the end of resistance, control or fighting. We now can see who we are not, and we “thank God from the bottom of our heart that we know Him better.”

(Step 7) “My Creator, I’m now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad. I pray that you remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellow. Grant me strength, as I go out from here, to do your bidding. Amen.”

When we take this Step with a wholehearted surrender, our lives can become very busy. Which brings me to this thought, as a part of the alumni team, I love it when you guys get In touch with me by phone or email to share all the cool things your Higher Power is using you for. It makes my day!

(Step 10) “Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.”

This Step is about awareness, surrender, and “to grow in understanding and effectiveness.” For me, the watching is easy most of the time; it’s the surrender in the moment to God’s will that still takes more practice. I’m sure that’s one of the reasons for Step 11 evening review: to catch what we missed or get a second chance to look at how we should have handled a situation better. “And we have ceased fighting anything or anyone – even alcohol.”

(Step 11) Each morning we wake up to a new surrender.

For me, it’s like trying to turn on a lamp without plugging it first. “we ask God to direct our thinking, especially asking that it be divorced from self-pity, dishonest or self-seeking motives.” If I don’t surrender my thinking for the day by plugging into God, it’s probably not going to be a good day. “We alcoholics are undisciplined. So we let God discipline us in the simple way we have just outlined.” Our ego always will return, so we learn to accept and practice a disciplined way of life.

(Step 12) This surrender is the ultimate byproduct of all the other surrenders.

My experience is we develop a passion for having God working through us to serve Him and the people around us. This is where we see that we have become one with God.

“Every day is a day when we must carry the vision of God’s will into all of our activities.”

Relapse is not a part of recovery; it is part of the disease. Years of sobriety alone are no insurance against relapse. Alcoholics, regardless of how long we have been sober, can never relax our guard against the rebuilding of ego.


Hanley Center is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance use, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We offer renowned clinical care and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting recovery.

For information on our programs, call us today: 561-841-1033.

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