Someone in Charge
This is a phrase that my parish priest often reminds us of – “God is above.” Not in the sense that He is at all distant from us, but in the sense that He is in charge and He is watching over us. I find it a thought of immense comfort. Our children also find immense comfort in knowing they are being watched over by someone “in charge.” Despite the fact that my three older children share a room, several times a week one of them will wake in the night (sometimes several of them in one night!) and wander into our room and want reassurance. While my children’s sleep habits may be less than ideal for everyone’s sleep they show the deep desire we all have to know that we are being cared for. We, the grown ups in our children’s lives, God willing, give our children a sense that we are watching over them and will take care of them.
Children are not the only ones who benefit from knowing that there is someone watching over them. We all do. In my work as a physician I have been blessed and deeply honored to work with people recovering from addiction to drugs and alcohol. I have been truly inspired by my patients’ strength, humility and perseverance in the face of significant life struggles and hardships. Regardless of religious affiliation or creed the patients I have worked with have all recognized the power of the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous (although I know this is not universally true for people with addictions) – especially that “a Power higher than ourselves can restore us to sanity” and that “we need to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand Him”. People who struggle with addiction, especially to something as powerful and destructive as drugs and alcohol, often have become so humbled by their experiences and their own sense of powerlessness that they are willing or able to recognize their need for help.
Whose the boss?
Those of us who have have not been so outwardly humbled may imagine that we are the boss of our own lives. Especially in modern day society we are taught that we can be and do anything that we set our mind to. We proudly assume that we are masters of our own destiny. Children don’t have these misgivings. They know they are not in charge. And if we have raised them in the knowledge of God they will know we are not in charge either – not fully. Sometimes in moments of power struggles between my children or even with me I will somewhat foolishly remind my kids that they are not the boss. On the occasions that I do this I am always humbled and grateful to hear my children remind me that I am also not the boss – that “God is the boss.”
He will take care of us
As a sometimes cynical adult who has been witness to (but not affected directly by) much suffering, poverty and difficulty I sometimes struggle to have faith that God is in charge and that He will not “abandon me nor forsake me.” I work hard against this but it is a constant effort. For our children, however, especially when young, this faith is simple. What we tell them (if we are trustworthy in their eyes) is Truth – and we do well to remember this and not abuse this power. This period of Faith doesn’t last long and cynicism will soon creep in. But in building a strong foundation of Faith when our children are young we can help keep some of the cynicism at bay.
We have cats who have insisted upon becoming outdoor cats and reverted to their predator ways when outside. This Spring I was often found chasing them around to remove a baby bunny from their jaws or tidy up the many voles that they ousted from our garden. My three year old was curious about all this. And when we would worry if they had hurt the animal I would reassure him that “God is above and God will take care of them”. A few weeks later as we were climbing the stairs to our house my son stepped on an ant – “Oh!” he said a bit sadly, “I squished that ant!” Then he kept walking on “Well,” he paused. “God will take care of it!” It was a precious moment.
Simultaneously we teach our children that their actions are important and should reflect God’s grace. We let them know that we are meant to be God’s light in the world – carrying out His wish for us and living His purpose for us.
“For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.” – 2 Corinthians 2:15
This same God who guides us will guard us as we learn to put our trust in Him more and more. My same precocious three year old is often the one to remind me that, as he puts it, “God is over us”. I am sure He takes this very literally at his age, but the phrase will remain in his mind and heart and blossom with time I pray.
What a blessing to be able to, as my mother often reminds me, “let go and let God.” We only have so much control, we are the copilots of our lives, our choices hold power but the ultimate power is in God’s hands. A beautiful children’s song for this concept is “He’s got the whole world in his hands”. (Listen to a lovely version by Nina Simone here). Let us remember this and remind our children of this often. It does truly seem to be the only way to restore ourselves to (and maintain our) sanity.
With love in Christ,
The 12 Steps of AA
AA’s 12-Step approach follows a set of guidelines designed as “steps” toward recovery, and members can revisit these steps at any time. The 12 Steps are:
- We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
- Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
- Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
- Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
- Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
- Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
- Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
- Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
- Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.