At the beginning of my Step 11, seeking to improve my constant contact with God, my sponsor (as a reminder, he is the only smiling happy sadist I have ever met) instructed me to develop a process for making decisions. I did that and it actually works for me and my wife. Good stuff. So on to finishing these steps, right? Not quite.
So he challenged me to make a list. Every day. A list of the things that were distracting, anxiety inducing, stressful. Things that seemed insurmountable. Things that were too big for me. That felt too big for God. Ok, that seems a little bit scary, put the source of my fear into writing. Giving them reality and weight.
And I did. I started writing them down. Actually acknowledging their existence. By doing that I found…that they didn’t immediately go away. Ok, so that sucks. Thanks, sponsor. Now I am even more anxious about them. So I kept doing that, writing them down, putting them aside.
I pulled out a list from a month ago. Here is my list in its entirety. These are the things that were keeping me up at night:
My son’s college choice
Paying our bills
Paying for college
Work credit card bill
Those were my worries, the things that were causing me endless anxiety and stress. Thirty days ago. Thirty days of focusing on identifying my issues and fears and making sure I talked about them with God.
Something weird happened. Those aren’t fears or anxieties anymore. They weren’t all solved how I wanted them to be solved. What did happen is I gave them up. By identifying them and recognizing my powerlessness, I got practiced at overtly sharing them with the One who can.
In focusing on improving my constant contact with God, I have realized something that I learned in step one. Yes, I know, I am a very slow learner. I am powerless…not just over my addiction. I am powerless over my fears, my anxieties, my bills, my relationship with my wife, my son’s college. My list.
Psalm 55:22 says “Cast your burden on the Lord and He will sustain you.” Not He will give you everything you want or He will solve all your problems. Not He will check all the boxes on my “wish” list. He will sustain me.
My list is different now. It includes things like worrying about my parents being able to continue to afford assisted living, my youngest son integrating into a new school, my wife starting a new job. My list keeps changing. I wish I could say I don’t worry or stress or feel anxiety over my list. I could say that but I wouldn’t be rigorously honest. What has changed is my contact with God has changed.
Instead of holding onto my list, obsessing over it, trying to fix everything, I do some of those things, but I also talk to God about my list. I know I am powerless to handle my list. I know he isn’t powerless. He is all powerful, the Almighty, the Great I Am (does that name for God just not sound cool??). Talking to him about my list breaks my isolation and my control. It improves my constant contact with God, and He listens.