I was in grad school when I first got into recovery. One of the challenges I had in those early days was reconciling my heady intellectual pursuits with the spiritual process of the Twelve Steps.

I especially struggled with what it meant to decide to turn your will and your life over to the God of your understanding.

But then I read a daily meditation on Step 3 in Al-Anon’s “Courage to Change” daily reader that ended with a quote by Albert Einstein.

That quote really fascinated me and became a bridge between my intellectual pursuits and the spiritual journey of the Twelve Steps. I found it especially relevant since it seemed like so many of my intellectual insights when I was writing my term papers or even my dissertation seemed to come out of nowhere, almost like magic.

So, I became really interested in Einstein. And fortunately, since I was required to take a second foreign language as my degree requirements (I was already studying French,) an advanced German composition class I was taking required us to write a composition on a native German speaker.

I chose Einstein.

Most people are probably familiar with Einstein’s famous formula: E=MC² (Energy equals mass times the speed of light squared.)

What many people may not know, or what I didn’t know, at least, was the incredible thing that Einstein had discovered about the nature of light.

Einstein discovered that light is both a particle and a wave.

According to the classic laws of physics, this is not supposed to be possible.

And yet it’s true. What Einstein discovered about light laid the groundwork for what we now call quantum physics. Because light isn’t the only thing that behaves this way.

So, what does this have to do with Step 3?

Well, when I learned this about Einstein, I started thinking about what was necessary to make this incredible discovery possible. Hint: It wasn’t his incredible intellect. (Not to mention, when he was young, Einstein was failing math.)

In order to follow where his research was leading him, Einstein had to let go of everything he thought he knew about energy and matter. Everything we still think we know about energy and matter.

And that’s what brings me to Step 3.

For me, making a decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of God as I understand God is a decision to let go of everything I think I know.

Because my best thinking is what got me into these rooms.

So here are a few of the greatest hits of what I thought I knew when I walked into the rooms of 12-Step recovery:

  • My addicted loved ones had to change/recover in order for me to be okay.
  • I have no valuable skills. (That was the nice way to put it. What I was honestly saying to myself was that I was a sorry excuse for a human being.)
  • Recovery wouldn’t work for me.
  • God is a terrorist.

I rarely can explain how or why, but I do know that the magic that happens when I make a decision to let go of the things I think I know is truly quantum.

So now I’d like to hear from you. What did you think you knew when you walked into the rooms that turned out not to be true? What are the things that you still think you know that maybe you need to let go of?

Share your experience, strength, and hope in the comments. I read every one.

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