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Aligning Self-Will With God's Will

by Robert G. Waldvogel

While most people make decisions and plot and chart their own courses in life based upon intelligence and sound logic, their view of time and circumstance is limited. Predicting how the pieces will come together, even in the near future, is impossible, and it is often only in retrospect, upon review of what has already unfolded, that a common thread can be determined.

“God sees the whole picture, whereas my knowledge of what is best for me is based upon my fluctuating perspectives of my tiny world,” according to a share in Al-Anon’s Hope for Today text (Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., 2002, p. 119). “My Higher Power created me with human limitations, so I need to depend on Him. If I follow his guidance willingly, my life will be easier, saner, and safer.”

That Higher Power is the cornerstone of any twelve-step program and two of those steps specifically entail a connection with Him—namely, “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understood Him” (Step 2) and “…prayed only for knowledge of his will for us and the power to carry that out” (Step 11).

But there are many reasons why those who partake of such recovery may find this more of a theory than a practical reality.

1. Those who experienced blaming, shaming, condemning, and even abusive upbringings confuse and distort God, the eternal parent, with their earthly ones, repelling Him as opposed to connecting with Him.

2. Because they may have received little to no help during their powerless and vulnerable developmental years, especially from those they most needed and should have been present to protect them, they may doubt that a Higher Power even exists.

3. Instead of breeding trust, these circumstances created doubt and trepidation.

4. These circumstances left them abandoned and independent, teaching them that they were “own their own” and prompting them to question why a Higher Power would help them in adulthood when He seemed absent during their far more helpless childhood.

5. Finally, they have free will to turn to and listen to their Higher Power or chart their own course, even if they do believe that He exists.

Free- or self-will is something everyone is endowed with; and while no one would want to have it removed, it may be questioned why they were given it in the first place, since issues of aligning it with a Higher Power’s would not arise and the world would most likely be a better, less chaotic place.

But God’s reason for it is that there can be no true love without it. Everyone would otherwise be commanded as if they were robots, locked into his directives, and society would be nothing more than a dictatorship.

Those who grew up with tyrannical “authority figure” parents and responded out of fear for their own safety, may be more acquainted with these aspects and may not have been able to have identified much love within them.

Yet God created everyone and every atom in the world out of his sheer word for a specific purpose, endowing these souls with the strengths, talents, and abilities to complete their mission to fulfill that purpose. Most are unaware of what that is and even fewer may know how to complete it, despite what their knowledge, reasoning, intelligence, and even ego may otherwise indicate.

Aligning a person’s will with that of his Creator can certainly provide the guidance and direction that lead to better results.

“It helps me to think of aligning my will with that of my Higher Power…,” Hope for Today continues (ibid, p. 137). “Developing a healthy relationship with my Higher Power is about teamwork, with an emphasis on my difference to his will.”

Despite what may not be known, God keeps everyone in his mind’s eye from the moment they are born and not only knows what is right for them, but when they are ready to accept it. How he communicates his will varies—from infusing them with a desire to do something to placing them in certain situations to directly communicating with them to teaching subtle, sometimes unpleasant and even painful lessons when they stray too far on their own. Sometimes, in fact, he has to break their hearts to enter them.

Nevertheless, whatever God’s will is for a person always ends up being a masterpiece, but it may take time for that picture to be seen, only framed later in life.

“The only times I have ever found lasting satisfaction were when I let go of self-will and committed myself to seeking the will of my Higher Power,” according to Courage to Change, another Al-Anon text (Al-Anon Family Groups Headquarters, Inc., 1992, p. 145). “Prayer and meditation are two means by which I seek to discover what God’s will holds for me…”

While sublimating a person’s free will to God’s can be both a struggle and a conflict, it must be remembered that God is all good and always seeks to accomplish the greatest good in everyone, leading to ultimate—and mutual--fulfillment when they accept this fact.

Robert G. Waldvogel has earned the Interdisciplinary Certificate in Behavioral Health for Late Adolescence and the Emerging Adult and a Postgraduate Certificate in the Fundamentals of Cognitive Behavioral Treatment at Adelphi University’s School of Social Work. He has led Twelve-Step support groups on Long Island for the past decade, and created the Adult Child Recovery-through-Writing, and the Strengthening Our Spirituality Programs taught at the Thrive Recovery Community and Outreach Center in Westbury. He is a frequent contributor to Wisdom Magazine.

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