Just in time for Independence Day, we are delighted to bring you a wonderful article from Rev. Lynn Osborne, pastor of the Center for Spiritual Living in Sequim, Washington. If you are like us, thinking about freedom this week, then we know you will enjoy reading today’s post.
In gratitude, harmony, and support,
1 – 2 – 3 – I’m Free
By Rev. Lynn Osborne
I have been a student of Science of Mind since age 13, and before that, I attended a very middle-of-the-road Methodist church. Later, in my forties, I found 12-Step programs that helped me with codependency issues and gave me a more practical use of Science of Mind principles.
For 20 years, in addition to my church ministry, I also worked as a Chemical Dependency Counselor. I was always pleased to discover the ways the two life philosophies––Science of Mind and the 12 Steps––worked harmoniously together. It was just a matter of changing some of the terminology here and there.
I have often found that when people involved in 12-Step recovery programs first attend Religious Science Churches, they bring up questions regarding power. It comes from the 12-Step understanding of the first step which says: “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol, that our lives had become unmanageable.” This seems to be in conflict with the stance Religious Science takes that we are All-Powerful. So, let’s explore the first three steps of A.A. in ways that we can utilize both concepts––because both concepts are true.
Step One: We admitted we were powerless over alcohol (food, gambling, etc.)––that our lives had become unmanageable
First of all, an alcohol addiction, or any addiction, is an effect. It is the effects in our world that we are powerless over, e.g., people, places, and things. In Religious Science, we often make statements or affirmations about being Powerful. So on the surface, these two ideas can seem to be in conflict.
How can we gain a clear meaning and a realization that the two ideas are actually compatible? I think we can all identify with feelings of powerlessness when we try to control our lives at the level of effect. To feel powerless in situations doesn’t feel very good. Feeling out of control can seem degrading and helpless. And to keep trying to control external effects can make our lives unmanageable.
Yet, Science of Mind says that we can become empowered, that we can take charge of our lives. But it seems that in order to do this, we need to be able to identify those things over which we have no control.
For example, we have no control over someone else’s opinion. We have no power to change anything that happened in the past. To become upset because our golf game got called off due to weather can make our lives a little unmanageable for that day.
To become empowered is to be aware that there are a whole lot of things over which we have no power and to let go of the need to control those things. Dust storms in the desert always had an oddly calming effect on me. Just how can you argue with a dust storm, or an earthquake?
In The Science of Mind textbook, Dr. Holmes writes: “We learn that persistent, constructive thought is the greatest power known.” He talks about the Power within, which blesses all with whom It comes in contact. So, yes, we are indeed Powerful. When we let go of those things over which we have no control, then we become empowered.
What is it in our lives today that we are trying to control at the level of effect? What can we do when we miss a flight? When someone close to us doesn’t agree with us? When our bank statement doesn’t balance? Or we’re late for an appointment because we are stuck in traffic? Our uncomfortable feelings are indicators that we are in our First Step––that we are just now powerless and at risk for life becoming unmanageable. It is at this very point that we can acknowledge our powerlessness over effects and move to the Second Step.
Step Two: Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
If we have been trying to control things we can’t control, we have been acting as our own “Higher Power”––and that can be pretty insane. To continue to operate solely on self-will becomes exhausting.
But when we are into that kind of insane thinking, we often believe our own self-will is all we have. We don’t believe we can depend on anyone else, and we don’t even have a concept of a Higher Power. We believe we have to struggle through on our own.
Perhaps we have had a history of not being able to reach out for help. We may find it impossible to believe a Higher Power can really help us with our problems.
In Step Two, we can become willing to believe in something greater than ourselves. If we have been honest in Step One, being able to let go of things over which we have no power, then we have begun to build a good foundation for accepting and being willing to rely on a Power greater than ourselves.
All we need is the willingness, really. We can try it out on the “little things,” like finding a parking place. Just making the statement: “I am always in my right place” or “I am not alone in this” can open us up to becoming aware of the many times life is working for us.
The more times we become aware, the more we build the foundation for a strong belief in a Higher Power.” We can, then, see that the Power even works through the people, places and things, so we have no need to control any longer.
Step Three: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him (Her, God, It, etc.).
Ernest Holmes writes: “We must trust the invisible, for it is the sole cause of that which is visible.”
Step One was admitting our powerlessness over effects. Step Two was coming to believe that we are not alone, that although there were some things in our lives that felt insane, there was a Power greater than ourselves that could put our lives into balance.
Step Three is the action Step. We are now making a decision. We are taking affirmative action as a result of the developing awareness we gained by going through the first two steps. Now we are actually going to turn ourselves over to a Higher Power without reservation and with total abandon.
Again, we need only be willing. If we have been used to handling our lives on self-will alone, perhaps we have felt separate from God, and the idea of surrender is frightening. Our prayers in the past may have been focused on things or specific goals. But now, we are turning our very essence over to the God of our understanding We are letting go of the need to control the outcome and we are learning to depend on a Power that works through us.
Jesus said, “It is not I but the Father within me who doth the work.”
If we can see situations that we did control and see where maybe they didn’t turn out very well, it becomes a little easier to trust our Higher Power to guide us. Our fears and resentments and faulty behavior patterns can begin to become manageable if we decide to turn them over and to put God in charge.
As we begin to see positive changes take place in our lives, it becomes easier to rely on and trust our Higher Power. Depending on a Higher Power means gaining our own personal independence. I call it a 1-2-3 Formula to get out of trouble: “I can’t. God can. I think I’ll let God.”
I believe that every day of our lives there is something we are powerless over, something we try to control that we can’t. Sometimes when we hit a snag, it is difficult to think up the perfect prayer or affirmation.
But, this is simple: Just realize that the reason you are feeling uncomfortable right now is because something is out of your control and life is feeling unmanageable. Then, realize you are not alone; there is something more powerful than you that can restore your sanity––and you have access to it. Then, take charge of what you can control and turn the rest over.
Let go and let God, and say with me: 1 – 2 – 3 – I’m Free!
Rev. Lynn Osborne is pastor of the Sequim Center for Spiritual Living in Washington State. An excellent spiritual counselor, she credits the combining of Science of Mind Principles with 12-Step Recovery methods as being the perfect formula for healing. Visit her here.