I’ve read often in recovery literature that surrender is essential to healing from our addictions. But it always frightened me. Surrender felt like giving up—it felt like admitting I can’t do it on my own.
Guess what? I can’t do it on my own. Even just typing that sentence was difficult but lately I’ve found surrender can replace anxiety and fear with peace
A few weeks ago, a young woman at Mass asked if I’d like to participate with a group of people planning a Marian consecration (This was before COVID-19, when I could actually go to Mass with other people).
I agreed, not really knowing much about it. She told me to order 33 Days to Morning Glory: A Do It Yourself Retreat in Preparation for Marian Consecration by Fr. Michael E. Gaitley. A few days later we met for an introductory meeting. So far, so good, right?
The book is based on the wisdom of four great Marian saints but interpreted for a 21st-century audience. On Day Five I hit my first wall. The book suggested that I should give to the Blessed Mother all my good works and received graces so that she could dispose of them as she wished.
In other words, to surrender.
There it was again, rearing its ugly head. But this time, since it was in an entirely different context, I listened. I sought the advice of others who were on the retreat with me. I listened to the testimony of others who had already surrendered. And it all began to make sense. I decided to go for it and trust that Our Lady would take care of me.
By the time our weeks of consecration preparation were over, we were unable to gather together due to COVID-19. For a Cajun who loves to hug, and whose love language is “physical touch,” social distancing is a difficult sacrifice to make.
Instead, I went to drive-up confession and asked my priest to bless my consecration bracelet. I watched Mass on Facebook. We gathered via Zoom to jointly recite our consecration prayers. Although it was not the same as being together it was still meaningful.
I have to tell you that those 33 days changed my life completely. Our Blessed Mother has opened my heart to receive more blessings than I could have imagined. My prayer life has been transformed. I have interior peace. I renew my consecration and my surrender every day. Sometimes I have to do it more than once a day, as I am easily distracted. That might seem obsessive to some but it keeps me grounded.
I still struggle with food addiction but I have not had a full-on binge in quite some time. Slowly, very slowly, the addiction is speaking in a quieter voice as opposed to screaming. It’s growing easier to ignore its demands.
When it becomes more difficult I turn to Mary, my Mother, and lean on her for support. I also lean on the members of my small group Bible study.
We can’t meet in person right now, but we keep in contact with one another and lift one another in prayer. I am closer to these ladies than almost anyone else on the planet. They are my rock. They understand my struggles and accept me unconditionally. They are the sisters I never had growing up.
Oddly enough, COVID-19 has also helped me with surrender. This whole thing is a big, bad, and ugly thing I can’t control. It’s outside of me while my addiction is within.
But surrendering to “stay-at-home orders” has actually prevented me from going out to buy binge foods. And in many ways this quarantine has become a personal retreat for me. My days are calm and peaceful, not busy and exhausting. Plus, I’m able to work from home, which is a true blessing when so many people are unable to work at all.
During this time, I have been able to embrace surrendering instead of fleeing from it. I still have a long road ahead on my recovery journey but the road is becoming more of a pleasant walk on a shaded path as opposed to a trek through a desert.
Will there be tough times ahead? Assuredly. But I don’t fear them. I know if I can find peace in the midst of the chaos of COVID-19 that I can get through whatever lies ahead with the help of our Blessed Mother.
Celeste is a wife, mother, and grandmother living in Louisiana’s Cajun Country. She is a lifelong Catholic and committed to spreading the Gospel through small group formation programs. She is a recovering food addict (embracing the slogan, “If you can’t stop at one, have none!”), an avid knitter, and a lover of God.