Step 3: Part 5 Lessons From The 70s on Willingness

In Step 3: Part 4  I asked how you would define ‘will’ and ‘lives’ in the wording of Step 3.

Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understood Him. Alcoholics Anonymous, 2011 p 59

In the 70s, I was willing to teach high school English by day and coach the drama club by night and add to that, drive an hour commute. I was young, optimistic and enthusiastic—an ideal candidate for the small school district of Olin, Iowa.

The prospect of developing my own curriculum, teaching in my own classroom and being the only drama coach was exciting. I’d borrowed more money than I could envision (college tuition) and buried myself for 4 boring years in the dusty tiled halls of academia to reach this point of independence and responsibility. I was pumped! Life was going to be wonderful. I was using my will to accomplish my goals:

  • Teach high school English
  • Coach drama students
  • Mentor kids in creative writing

It took roughly one school year to experience the defeat at the wheel of power and control. I, who virtually never get sick, was bedridden that Spring. I was depressed, exhausted and depleted. My self-willed life lesson plan was handed to me with my bed tray at the age of 23!

Being self-willed, I often tripped up. I am an optimistic enthusiast, without the physical stamina, nor the right mindset to sustain my desire to rise to the level of an actor who can run the whole show.

Granted, there are people who can easily teach, sponsor the drama club and drive a long commute without a breakdown, but I’m talking about me. (Again, typical alcoholic that I am—its all about me.)

Therefore, this quote is found in my favorite portion of the Big Book of AA.

“The first requirement is that we be convinced that any life run on self-will can hardly be a success. On that basis we are almost always in collision with something or somebody, even though our motives are good. Most people try to live by self-propulsion. Each person is like an actor who wants to run the whole show; is forever trying to arrange the lights, the ballet, the scenery and the rest of the players in his own way. If his arrangements would only stay put, if only people would do as he wished, the show would be great. Everybody, including himself, would be pleased. Life would be wonderful.” Alcoholics Anonymous, p 62

In the past, I was the assistant administrator of a beautiful beach-side resort. I loved the work and it was rewarding, but I also was having chest pains from the stress of the 24/7 job. The job wasn’t the problem. I was. My desire to CONTROL others dove-tailed with being in charge. Having taught leadership, I know better. Big difference between leading and controlling. I fell prey to my natural instincts again.

It took 5 years in a cactus field to show me that I do best in a quiet environment with lots of time for contemplation. I’ve learned to seek His will and honestly, I’ve never regretted that!