Jul 22: Paradoxes in our Program

Paradoxes in our Program

There are a few paradoxes in the program of Alcoholics Anonymous and “We Surrender to Win” is one that is essential to “get” in order to go further on this journey. I had to surrender to a Power Greater Than Myself before I could get out of my silly self that got me in so much trouble before joining AA. I lived my entire life on self will and, in retrospect, I can see today that this way of looking at life led me to nothing but chaos and unmanageability! Yep – –it took some time – –as early on I DID, in fact, have some fun times, living in the “fast lane”. In the end it led me to nothing but misery and in prison

Here are some of the paradoxes that have worked for me in this program:

“1. We SURRENDER TO WIN. On the face of it, surrendering certainly does not seem like winning. But it is in A.A. Only after we have come to the end of our rope, hit a stone wall in some aspect of our lives beyond which we can go no further; only when we hit “bottom” in despair and surrender, can we accomplish sobriety which we could never accomplish before. We must, and we do, surrender in order to win.

2. We GIVE AWAY TO KEEP. That seems absurd and untrue. How can you keep anything if you give it away? But in order to keep whatever it is we get in A.A., we must go about giving it away to others, for no fees or rewards of any kind. When we cannot afford to give away what we have received so freely in A.A., we had better get ready for our next drunk. It will happen every time. We’ve got to continue to give it away in order to keep it.

3.We SUFFER TO GET WELL. There is no way to escape the terrible suffering of remorse and regret and shame and harassment which starts us on the road to getting well from our affliction. There is no new way to shake out a hangover. It’s painful. And for us, necessarily so. I told this to a friend of mine as he sat weaving to and fro on the side of the bed, in terrible shape, about to die for some paraldehyde. I said, ‘Lost John’- that’s his nickname-Lost John, you know you’re going to have to do a certain amount of shaking sooner or later. “Well, he said, for God’s sake let’s make it later!” We suffer to get well.

4.We DIE TO LIVE. That is a beautiful paradox straight out of the Biblical idea of being ‘born again or ‘losing one’s life’ to find it. When we work at our Twelve Steps, the old life of guzzling and fuzzy thinking, and all that goes with it, gradually dies, and we acquire a different and a better way of life. As our shortcomings are removed, one life of us dies, and another life of us lives. We in A.A. die to live.”

second edition, Alcoholics Anonymous


I have found that I have “won the battle” by giving the program of AA my all. Today I have total trust in my HP (Higher Power) and give myself to Him/Her every morning as a part of my morning rituals of prayer and meditation. I no longer resist what is and accept everything as an “opportunity for growth” instead of as a “problem”! I have found that EVERYTHING is just the way it is supposed to be and all I have to do is go with the flow, praying for guidance all the way!

IT WORKS WHEN I WORK IT, and doesn’t when I don’t!

I look forward to our shares on how the paradoxes work in your life.

Susanne L. Murphys, CA 8/17/91