My life was unmanageable. Out of control. If you are reading this, you know what I am talking about. Either you are experiencing this now or you have experienced it in the past. That powerlessness you feel from not being able to change. The overwhelming sense of dread that occurs when you want to be different, but you just don’t know how or can’t put together more than a few days or weeks or even months of change.
For me, I couldn’t stop lying, hiding my behavior, seeking out other relationships outside my marriage. The shame and self-hatred from knowing who I was and what I was doing was suffocating. I felt cornered. And I was. My own carelessness and inability to manage led to my wife discovering part of my behavior. I ended up disclosing the rest. And then recovery began.
To say I survived the first few months is downplaying the actual struggle. I survived on a day to day basis. I would most days reach the end of the day, thankful that it was over. I couldn’t handle it. I had all the components of recovery: a counselor, meetings, a sponsor, check ins with other guys, accountability partners. I followed the rules and called other guys daily. I muscled through and stayed “sober.” I was hanging on by my fingernails. Nights in the guest bedroom for those first few months were soul killing. I hated where I was, who I was, and how I was.
Working the steps began my journey to understand how, like life before recovery, I couldn’t manage life in recovery on my own. Detailing my own powerlessness and the unmanageability of my life in Step One gave me the specifics of what life would be if I chose to continue living how I did before. The slow long gradual fade of my behavior, destruction of my marriage, and distancing of my children were all reminders of the fallout from a life of selfishness and addiction. Sharing my secrets and shame with my wife and the men of my recovery groups ripped the top off a container of darkness and hiding, forcing light into areas that were so damaging.
Even after exposing these secrets, my life was still unmanageable. I survived each day, struggling to just stay sane and balanced, losing my job in the process. My turning point came in Steps Two and Three. I first recognized that only God could restore me to sanity. Recovery, the Steps, my groups, my wife, my accountability partners…they couldn’t do that. I couldn’t do that. I couldn’t will that. Only God could.
Step Three required me to decide…would I turn my life and will over to God or not? For all of my life the answer was not. My journey to this point in life gave me the overwhelming preponderance of evidence that my own manageability of my life wouldn’t work. Only destruction would follow. So I chose to give God control.
I wish I could say that everything changed in that moment. It didn’t. I kept working through the Steps. Kept going to meetings, kept meeting with my accountability partners, kept going to counseling, kept checking in with guys…and started developing a relationship with God. I started each day by submitting control to Him, knowing that me being in control of my day wasn’t sustainable.
Each day isn’t smooth sailing. It isn’t perfect. It isn’t my design. Its His design. He leads me where He wants me, refining and teaching me to continue along this journey of sanctification. Because that what life is as a Christ Follower, continually submitting control to Him in order to refine me to be more like Him. My life was and IS unmanageable on my own. Each day is only manageable through submitting to Christ.