The Problem with “Letting Go and Letting God”

May 22, 2012

Tuesday Re-mix –

Step 3: We make a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God.

[I am using these Tuesday Re-mixes for a few weeks to think (again) about addiction to self-reliance and how that addiction is one of the biggest challenges to genuine community which we face in the American church culture.]

Applying step 3 to our particular addiction (the addiction to self-reliance), feels a little bit like comedian Steve Martin’s simple process for becoming a millionaire…Step 1: go and get a million dollars.

For those of us who are addicted to self-reliance and independence, “turning your life over to God” has always been a bit of a troublesome concept.  Oh, it’s easy enough to say…and it was easy enough to do when we were 7 years old at children’s camp and our “life” consisted of  a bike, a broken G.I. Joe and an annoying little brother, all of which we would gladly “turn over to God” in exchange for Heaven.  Moreover, even the concept of turning our “will” over to God seemed like a small price to pay at the time, given the reward of spending eternity in Heaven with all the donuts and sports we could ever want (what? you didn’t get that promise in your package?).

But it didn’t take long to start growing up and watching our “stuff” and our wills expand to cover a great deal more territory.  Then, the desire for the applause of men and the insecurities which were beginning to haunt us caused us to turn more and more inward and to take more short-cuts and to work harder to control the environment around us in order to survive.  The more we strove to control our environment, the harder it became and the deeper our “addiction” became.  Interestingly, the better we got at being independent, the worse we got at actually relying on God…and now, when we hear preachers and church friends talk about “letting go and letting God”, we nod politely as if agreeing, but we don’t really get it.  Not really.

We don’t get it because we just have a hard time really trusting God (or even more so, God’s people) to meet our pressing physical and emotional needs.  Spiritual needs, sure…no problem there.  But the more practical things like finances and health and children and jobs and success and sexual desires and ambition and…well, you know the list…all those things we would rather handle ourselves.  We will gladly give God our Sundays (at least a few hours of them), but turning to God otherwise is a last resort for us.  It is what we do when there is literally nothing else we can do.  We know (intellectually) that God loves us and has our best interests at heart, but we just are not sure we wouldn’t rather handle these practical concerns ourselves.

So, for those of us in this particular group, step 3 in the 12-step process is more than just a next step in the recovery process…it feels an awful lot like the complete cure for our addiction!  No small step.  Forgive me, then, if I scoff a little at this “next step”.  I haven’t yet found the secret to really nailing this one down.  Have you?  Care to share?

© Blake Coffee
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