Cotton Candy and Surrender
One of the greatest successes of the 12-Step program is in teaching addicts how to surrender instead of fighting against desires that they feel ‘powerless’ over. How can we all apply this to our struggles, regardless of if we're addicts or not? What does surrender really mean and how is it different than ‘fighting’?
I thought of an analogy that might help us understand better how this works. Let’s imagine a 6-year-old child who is crazy about cotton candy, he simply can’t resist it. He passes by the cotton-candy man each day and uses his pocket money to buy himself the delicious treat. But his Dad keeps telling him that it is bad for him, it is just plain sugar and will make him fat and give him cavities and make him sick. But he just can’t say no. Each day, as he gets closer to the cotton candy man, his mind begins fighting back and forth, he knows it’s bad for him and that Dad doesn’t approve, but he just can’t resist the temptation and keeps falling for it. The fight is basically a foregone conclusion for this 6-year-old. He simply doesn’t have the maturity of thought, nor the self-discipline or ability to visualize the future damage that he is causing to himself. Could we expect more from a 6-year-old?
But now, let’s imagine that his father is taking him for a walk. Soon they are about to pass by the cotton-candy man and the young boy begins to imagine the sweet taste of the candy and wishes he could run and buy the treat. But he is holding his father’s hands and feeling his father's love. He knows that his father only has his best interest in mind always, and even though he is perhaps too young still to fully appreciate it, he is very grateful for his father’s presence in his life. As they get closer, he remembers how his father always chides him about buying the treat, and he knows deep down that his father is right. After all, he is just a little boy and his father is so much older and wiser.
In this scenario, does the boy have to "struggle" not to break away and go buy himself the treat? His father’s will for him is so much stronger than his own, and he knows that it’s for his own good. He doesn’t need to fight anyone, neither himself nor his father. He just naturally ‘lets go’ of the notion as they pass by the cotton candy machine and continue walking down the street. And he can't help but notice how his father gives him a big smile as they pass by, and he feels his love more than ever.
Perhaps this is how surrender is supposed to work. We are like 6-year-old kids facing the seemingly irresistible cotton candy. Sometimes we’ve even lost the ability to think rationally or visualize the future damage that we are causing ourselves when we fall, and our own strengths can no longer win this fight. But the more we bring G-d, our Father, into our lives and trust fully that He truly has only our very best interest in mind, we begin to feel that He is always holding our hands, even when we feel down. Then, when we pass the temptation, we no longer need to fight with ourselves to give it up. We simply surrender to a Will that is so much larger than our own, in the knowledge that we are being cared for by Someone so much greater and wiser than ourselves.
So the next time the temptation strikes, let’s try to imagine we are walking hand-in-hand with G-d, feeling His love, and trusting that He only wants the best for us… And hopefully, we will see that instead of fighting, we can simply surrender our will to our loving Father and move on with a smile :-)