In Step One of Healing Through Christ, we “come to understand and accept that we are powerless over the [behavior] of a loved one and recognize that our lives have become unmanageable.”
Coming to understand implies that there is a change in our interpretation of the situation. We see it differently than we have before. When we accept something, we admit that it is going to exist whether we want it to or not. With this recognition, we also realize that there is no longer a need for resistance on our part. If it’s going to happen anyway, is there really any reason to fight it?
So what exactly are we learning to understand and accept in this step? It is our own powerlessness over others. This is not an easy truth to understand or accept. Our loved ones are important to us, and we naturally want to send them down the right path. We would hate to see them make a mistake or experience pain. We want to tell them everything we think they should do and know because we want them to succeed. We worry about them, and we feel that it’s our obligation to do all we can to make sure they have the lives we want for them. This is all very well-intended, but there’s a problem.
Our Heavenly Father sent us to this life as part of a wonderful plan, and the most important factor in that plan is our agency. Each individual child of God has been given the gift to choose. When we make our own choices, we learn. Sometimes we succeed, and sometimes we fail, but the lessons learned through this life’s experiences are critical for the growth we were sent here to achieve. For many of us, it is easier to protect our own agency than to respect the agency of another, especially when that person is someone close and special to us. However, when we interfere with our loved ones exercising their agency, our lives become unmanageable.
The inability to manage our own lives is result of pain, frustration, resentment, disappointment, grief, fear, worry, and other negative emotions that occur when someone else’s choices are different than what we think best. Trying to manage another person leaves little energy for our own needs and usually doesn’t help them either. Even if our help is sometimes desired by others, they might still miss valuable learning experiences if we’re not careful about how much we’re getting in the way of their ability to find solutions to their own problems.
[Thanks to Britney for submitting this post. If you would like to submit a post that reflects your hope, faith, and experience with the Steps, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org]