Step One: Being a Sponsor

Step one says, “We admitted we were powerless over our {compulsive sexual/romantic obsession} and that our lives had become unmanageable. You know what? Those brackets could be filled with a lot of other things. I can’t control the weather, I can’t control many of life’s circumstances and I can’t control other people. When I deceive myself into thinking I can control things outside of myself, my life becomes unmanageable extremely fast.

On a daily basis, I get to practice the first step in my interaction with my two sponsees. (note:My sponsees are not aware of this blog and I write here anonymously, so their identities are totally secure.) Both of them are struggling. One, after just a couple of months, seems to think she’s got this think licked, thank you very much. She’s fine on her own and will let me know if she needs me. I fear a train wreck in her future, but she can’t see it coming. The other will try to follow directions, but is still in the place where she just can’t seem to stop  acting out. She wants to be sober, but retreats into her compulsion whenever she has uncomfortable feelings. And then, she lies to me instead of asking for help.

With both of these women, I need to remember that I am powerless over their thoughts, attitudes and choices. I can be available to help them when they’re willing to accept their own powerlessness. I can show them compassion and offer them hope when they stumble. I can walk them through the steps and show them a better way to live, if they’re willing to do the work. I can speak the truth in love, even when it’s difficult to say. But what they do with all of that is entirely up to them. And that’s hard to remember some days. When one of them acts out, I am tempted to ask, “What did I do wrong? Where did I fail her? How can I keep her sober?” When the other is cavalier and refuses the help I freely offer her, I can wonder, “Why am I not getting through to her? What more do I need to do to change her attitude and behavior?”

Those questions contain lies. Nothing I do or don’t do can force another person to change her behaviors, thoughts or attitudes. I can be a good example. I can try to inspire through my words and deeds. I can be available to help. But ultimately, each person will make her own choices.

It can be difficult to leave others to their own devices. As addicts, we are typically people who think that we know what’s best for everybody around us, even when our own lives are spinning out of control. If people would just do things our way, everything would be better. We try to take the place of God in others’ lives.

It reminds me of something my first sponsor told me: “You need to quit trying to play God because you suck at it!” She was right. When I live my life according to my own wishes, it becomes unmanageable frighteningly fast. But when I turn my will and life… and other people’s wills and lives…over to the care of the one true God, I can relax and trust that he has everything in his loving care.

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