This morning I heard a woman at the podium tell of her journey from an alcoholic bottom into the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous. An older woman with over thirty years of sobriety, she was funny and candid and radiated joy throughout her story. She had a great message for me today.
She talked about how difficult it was for her in early sobriety, not being able to admit that her life had become unmanageable. She’d felt that she had always been in complete control. For her, the job, the family, and the finances were separate aspects of her life. Compartments that were separate from alcohol. It took her awhile to see that it was alcohol that caused these compartments to become unmanageable.
She also didn’t have a God of her understanding. Her upbringing was very strict and religious. The God she was taught about as a child was a punisher. There certainly couldn’t be room for that God in the fun she wanted to have, so she had no room for any God.
And then there was Step Three. Miraculous enough that somehow she’d finally been able to admit her problem with alcohol and find a God she could talk to, now she had to TURN HER WILL AND HER LIFE OVER TO THAT GOD’S CARE. She had to completely trust God to direct the play and run the whole show. That is definitely not an easy task for someone who likes to be in control. Her description of a visualization that helped her do this was really quite beautiful. It got my attention.
She said that she had to imagine that each morning she climbs into a hot air balloon and is gently lifted from the ground. There’s no way to choose direction or destination, the balloon just takes her into her day. She’s simply along for the ride, a passenger, not having any choice but to trust that wherever the balloon takes her is the right place to be taken. Floating. Trusting. She turns her will and her life over to the care of God like a balloon ride. It’s a beautiful and perfect analogy.
I’ve always called it letting God steer. Kinda like asking Jesus to take the wheel. You steer, God, and I’ll do the pedaling.
My day always go best when I don’t make the choices or resist the ones that are made for me. Something always comes up that tells me where I’m supposed to go and what’s supposed to be. All I have to do is show up and face forward. I watch. I listen. There’s something I’m supposed to learn or notice or experience. There’s something I’m supposed to say or do. I just do what’s directly in front of me. And I have no idea what any of those things will be until they are happening. The balloon ride, when I take it, is light and easy. Peaceful. Smooth. It’s surrender. I have faith and trust that wherever it takes me is where I’m supposed to go.
The trouble comes when I doubt the balloon. What if I crash? What if the balloon hits something and bursts into flames? Isn’t that a storm up ahead? Those thoughts are me losing faith and trust in the balloon ride. I lose trust that it knows best and it knows the way. I stop believing that everything is going to go exactly as it should.
Worse yet are the days I don’t get in the balloon’s basket at all. I wake up in the morning and skip the praying. I wanna be the one to call the shots on those days. My will has a need to be in control and make things the way I want them. I want to direct. I want to steer. My will not yours, Lord. And believe me when I tell you, that always leads me in the wrong direction. I end up in the storm. Or I get lost.
Today was a good day for me from beginning to end. I spent time with family and friends today. I heard a great message from a woman who is happy, joyous and free. I took some time to be outside in the sunshine writing this post you’re reading. I was exactly where I was supposed to be all day long today. I know this to be true because this morning I prayed, I got in the basket, and I went for a hot air balloon ride.