Friday, December 09, 2005

Compliance, Surrender and Flatulence

Philosopher, in a comment on Redhead Gal's blog, made a distinction between surrender to a Higher Power and compliance with a Higher Power that was helpful to me. Rusty expressed some of what I've been thinking lately: I'm coming close to a year sober, and I really suck at AA. I don't call my sponsor every day, I've been unreliable in commitments, I've let 3-4 weeks pass between meetings sometimes. I've done the steps, but far from thoroughly. For me, it shows how powerless I really am, that my recovery has very little to do with my efforts, and is an undeserved gift from God.

Surrender is not compliance. We don't call them the Twelve Commandments. They aren't the Twelve Agenda Items. They aren't the Twelve Standards of Compliance promulgated by the Alcoholics Anonymous Recovery Standards Board. Sobriety is not something that can be "accomplished," in my opinion, and it does not require adhering to any onerous, kill-joy, identity-destroying precepts.

For me, surrender is a willingness to try to conform my will to God's will, as best as I can. For me, obedience to God's will is precisely identical to accepting God's gifts. So, surrender is a desire to accept the gifts and blessings God wants to give us. How hard is that, really? :)

God doesn't hate me for the many times I fail to accept His gifts. He isn't going to condemn me to hopeless drunkenness if I don't call my sponsor today. I will condemn myself to misery, possibly including drunkenness, if I choose to tell God, "No, thanks, I'm turning down the gifts you offer me, because they are different from what I expected and requested from You."

Compliance is not our purpose or our goal. In itself, compliance gives us nothing. Freedom and happiness is what we seek. Surrender is the method we use to approach the freedom and happiness God wants to give us. Rough compliance with the suggestions of AA, with Biblical commandments, with the eight-fold path, with our conscience, with whatever, is a byproduct, an indirect indicator, sometimes a guidepost, of surrender to our Higher Power.

To me, at least. :)


I think my son has had too much time with his Papi, without Mommy around. Last night we were in the car. He farted loudly, and then laughed uproariously. It's a good thing his mother is coming back Sunday, before he starts eating road kill.


At 12/09/2005 06:37:00 PM, Blogger Horace Finkle said...

Cool blog page. I'm bookmarking it for future visits.

If you want a really good laugh, read

At 12/10/2005 03:24:00 AM, Blogger dAAve said...

I think there is such a huge difference between sobriety and recovery. Some of those differences are what you are writing about.
OK. Maybe I'll do a post about that.
And maybe I won't.

At 12/10/2005 07:07:00 AM, Blogger jules said...

I heard a fantastic speaker who said that AA is not for people who want it, or people who need it, AA is for people who DO IT. So however it is that you do it, whether it is one meeting a week- or two meetings a day- just make sure that you do it. You are in my prayers.

At 12/10/2005 01:08:00 PM, Blogger Phil said...

Julie: How true that is! Thank God I don't have to do it perfectly. :)

Everyone, be sure to stop by Julie's blog! She shares some great experience, strength and hope. And it's always good for this alcoholic to be reminded how our disease metastasizes to those around us.

Dave: Most of your blog posts show, in some way, the difference between sobriety and recovery, whatever topic you choose! That's the second reason I read your blog. The first reason is to make smartass comments. :)

Horace: Uh, thanks. It's great to be admired by a sociopathic teenager.

At 12/10/2005 04:31:00 PM, Blogger Jane said...

Sounds like a typical boy, but trust me little girls can blow a mean ripper too.

(ew, i just grossed myself out)

At 12/10/2005 05:28:00 PM, Blogger Phil said...

Jane: And because you (like other girls) are grossed out, humans don't live in caves any more.

At 12/10/2005 06:55:00 PM, Blogger Jane said...

LOL. great theory Phil!

At 12/11/2005 04:29:00 AM, Blogger Trudging said...

O.K. first of all I can tell that you were raised Lutheran(-: Second, it is real normal to freak out a little when you are coming up on a year. Third, my seven year old (as of December 1) almost always rejoices when he farts or burps loudly. We caution him not to to say "excuse me" instead of "Oh Man Good One" when he does it in public. But, what the hell farting is a joyus thing.

At 12/11/2005 05:33:00 AM, Blogger dAAve said...

I'm gonna go fart in my cats face. Maybe I'll take the camera.

At 12/11/2005 07:05:00 AM, Blogger Scott W said...

Phil, So glad to see you posting again. I need to add you back to my links.

At 12/11/2005 11:13:00 AM, Blogger Phil said...

Trudge: Yeah, you can always spot a Lutheran by the way he farts.

I'm actually freaking out more about the upcoming anniversary of my last relapse, which was, like a Lutheran fart, short but grim. (Actually, a lot of Lutheran people are short and grim.) Pray for me that will be "last" as in "final," not just as in "most recent." :)

Dave: Jane put it best: "ew."

Scott: Thanks, buddy. To be worthy of such an honor, I may start deleting Dave's comments. :)

At 12/11/2005 01:45:00 PM, Blogger Grace said...

Good to see you again Phil :-)

At 12/11/2005 03:26:00 PM, Blogger dAAve said...

Well, I NEVER took you off my linques. I waited for 4 long, agonizing months for The Return.
Delete me if you must. My thoughts, unlike my comments, will not disappear.

At 12/11/2005 03:27:00 PM, Blogger dAAve said...

3 months

At 12/11/2005 09:15:00 PM, Blogger Phil said...

Dave: So, 3 months agonizing for The Return, preceded by 1 month agonizing for The Disappearance?

Grace: MWAH :)

At 12/12/2005 11:10:00 AM, Anonymous Rusty said...

I'm really glad you're back, Phil. Good luck with all the new stuff that's going on in your life. BTW, both my kids (boy and girl) think it's hilarious to rip them whenever biologically possible...makes no difference where they are or who they're with. I have such charming children.

At 12/13/2005 01:53:00 PM, Blogger Shannon said...

LOL I just read that HP was going to fart in his cats face.... I am still laughing my ass off at that my coworkers think I am nuts...

and Phil... I am praying for you... go to lots of meetings, stay connected with people and your sponsor and your HP... oh and go to lots of meeting and stay connected with your sponsor and HP

Have a great day

At 12/13/2005 09:03:00 PM, Anonymous tania said...

i love the tension you have between compliance and surrender. i think ultimately it speaks of a relationship we have with our HP. surrender implies trust, whereas compliance connotes a sense of harsh judgment. i would like to believe that my children trusts my relationship with them to "surrender" to my decisions when it doesn't make sense. i think God does too.
just ran into your blog. love it.

At 12/13/2005 10:16:00 PM, Blogger Phil said...

Rusty: Those same angels in your Flickr pics? LMAO

Shan: Consider all of Dave's comments NSFW. Thanks for your prayers. I've been refocusing on my "suit up and show up" routines. :)

Tania: **light bulb in Phil's head** Yes! Surrender:Trust::Compliance:Judgment. That's a beautiful and elegant distinction. Thank you!

At 12/14/2005 05:48:00 PM, Blogger Pat said...

I don't believe God sees anyone except as perfect. I would venture to suggest that attack/vengence/fear are our own making. If I had to bet, I would bet the farm that if we could learn to see only the real goodness in everyone then we would be able to actually see God.

At 12/14/2005 08:51:00 PM, Blogger Phil said...

Pat: I agree that attack/vengeance/fear are human -- the God of my understanding is not a source of attack, but of protection; not of vengeance, but of forgiveness; not of fear, but of comfort. And I think you're right that when we see goodness in others, we catch a glimpse of God.

As a Christian, I believe God views us not as perfect, but loves us in spite of our imperfections, that he forgives us falling short of the perfection of His image. I think the love a parent has for a child gives us a glimpse of the perfect love He has for us.

Thanks for your comment, Pat. God bless you!

At 12/14/2005 08:57:00 PM, Anonymous Logan Wick said...

Phil, my oldest son is 19 months old, and when he rips one, he laughs so hard he cannot remain standing. It starts young. Well, I guess he had a good teacher (yes, that would be me).

Compliance and surrender...I'm going to have to thing about that one for a while.


At 12/15/2005 07:18:00 PM, Blogger Phil said...

Logan: 19 months, wow! He's quite precocious. You must be so proud LOL


Post a Comment

<< Home