We have been given three paradoxical steps to set a foundation for a successful life. By successful, I refer to the internal sense of knowing you belong and matter to others, and to the external sense of being known for your ability and integrity. By describing the steps as paradoxical, I refer to how the steps on the surface seem unattractive. Nevertheless, the steps speak to how we are created to live so that we can have success. These steps occur in order and progressively. Also, they are a lifestyle. All we have to do is desire to live successfully. The steps do the rest.
Admission of Powerlessness
Admission of powerlessness opens the door to facing reality and living truthfully. We are powerless over how we are created as emotional and spiritual creatures. We are created to live fully through emotional and spiritual, relational connection with our selves (head to heart), with others (heart to heart), and with God (heart to God). We can deny this reality, dissociate from it, or avoid it through rationalizations. Nevertheless, the reality of how we are created for relational connection remains.
By admitting our powerlessness over how we are created and our powerlessness over Life itself, we come to the doorway of the lives we are created to have. We admit how we are created, including the vulnerability that admission entails. We admit the inability to make ourselves self-sufficient, and we admit our need of others and God. We admit our attempts to avoid such vulnerability. By starting with the truth of us, we become open to fulfillment, instead of closed by the attempts to pretend that we don’t need. We admit that our attempts to live the “world’s” standards of success take us away from “creation’s” pathway of success. We are created to connect our hearts to others and God.
We surrender how we are created in hopes that there really is an order and way of living that is bigger and better than our attempts to succeed without being in need of others and God. With the openness of honest desire, of course, comes the potential for deep wounds. However, where the heart’s hunger for relationship is exposed, so is the potential to be fed. Surrender literally means to render over or hand back over. It implies that we took something and need to give it back. We deflate our egos (easing God out) and offer the truth and experience of our true selves, that is, the person who lives behind the ego. We are created to be able to give ourselves to something we trust that is bigger than our own egos.
Admission and Surrender
We are made for love, to receive it and give it. Love comes as a result of admitting that we are created to find fulfillment in relationship, and we must be open to relationship for love to be experienced. Love requires that we admit powerlessness over how we are created and our attempts to avoid that vulnerability. Love requires that we surrender to the way life works instead of the way we attempt to make it work. This courage to live in vulnerability can give us great strength. Our emotional and spiritual desire is used to live truthfully instead of in hiding. Our desire is used to live openly instead of defensively. We become capable of tolerating deep hurt and exceptional joy.
When we admit our powerlessness over how we are created, and surrender to the reality of our need for help, we grow through new experiences to have faith that God is doing for us what we cannot do without God—live in trust, faith, care, risk, courage. As life happens to all of us, we become capable of living life’s losses and joys through dependence on God’s care for us and God’s order amidst chaos. Acceptance means that we face life on life’s terms while walking in the experiential faith that it all works out if we continue to live how we are created—for relationship with our selves, others, and God.
Everyday presents us with the opportunity to admit powerlessness, surrender to God’s processes, and accept the outcomes as part of the goodness and order that is at work in our lives. At the same time, we lose our invulnerability, avoidance of neediness, and the appearance of being in control that has kept us from the success we are made to live in. The presence of God and others is very much with us as we do these things. These three paradoxical steps lived daily and grown daily into a lifestyle bring us success. All we actually give to the steps is our desire to be successful. We “walk” them daily. The process of them does the work.