Sweet Surrender

Sweet Surrender

We welcome guest blogger Bronwyn Marmo, who writes about Steps 3 and 4 of the Twelve Steps, which Richard Rohr discusses in his newly released book, Breathing Under Water: Spirituality and the Twelve Steps. Breathing Under Water is available with a free online study guide.

Step 3: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God.

“Sweet surrender” is how Fr. Richard Rohr beautifully describes Step 3 of the Twelve Steps in his new book, Breathing Under Water. He says, “Surrender will always feel like dying, and yet it is the necessary path to liberation.”

The kind of death that started me on my path to freedom came at a time when I was emotionally, physically, and spiritually debilitated because food was ruling my life. I turned to food to comfort and soothe me, as if it were my best friend and lover. I used food as a coping mechanism to escape the emptiness I felt inside.

I couldn’t stop eating, even if I wanted to.

Like alcoholics or drug addicts who are obsessed with their next “fix,” my first thoughts in the morning were “What can I eat?” and “Where can I get it?” Then, in fear and despair, I would think to myself, “Oh no, another day.” I would let out a big sigh and pull the covers over my head to hide. I desperately wanted to fade away, to silently slide into nothingness. I felt as though the weight of the world was on my shoulders, and I didn’t want to go on anymore.

Then, one day while compulsively shoving cookies in my mouth to relieve the horrific pain, I had this shocking awareness that something was wrong with me because I couldn’t stop eating, even if I wanted to. With crumbs stuck to the side of my mouth and tears streaming down my face, I fell down to my knees, reached up and cried out in agony and desperation, “God, help me! Please help me!”

Just then, a deep loving feeling enveloped my body. I could feel the flow of limitless energy within me and around me, and it convinced me that I was loved more than I could have ever imagined. With that “sweet surrender” that Fr. Richard refers to, I realized I no longer had to be in control of my food, my weight, my body, or my life, and I made the decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of God.

Step 4: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

I have discovered that it’s not always easy to look at my flaws but very necessary for my daily healing and recovery. Fr. Richard refers to Step 4 as “a good lamp,” and I couldn’t agree more.  He says, “God brings us through failure—from unconsciousness to ever deeper consciousness and conscience.”

My ego would have me believe that it was the other person’s fault, that I was completely justified in my outrageous behavior, and that the other person owed me an apology for what they did to me. Feelings of anger would arise because I was consistently replaying the past where I believed I had been wronged. Now I can see why feelings of distress and suffering were familiar to me. I was walking around as a “wounded soul.”

It’s truly amazing to me to see the patterns of destruction I have uncovered in myself by doing what Fr. Richard calls some honest “shadow boxing.” Yes, it can be scary, but now I have come to know that I am not walking this journey alone. The God of my understanding is with me every step of the way, loving me inside and out and never abandoning me. It’s because of God’s love and grace that I choose to continue my transformation, one day at a time.

Bronwyn Marmo is a bestselling and award-winning author, speaker, and weight-loss success coach. She is the associate producer and one of the featured experts in the documentary film, The Inner Weigh™. Her book, The Food Is A Lie: The Truth Is Within, is an Amazon bestseller and winner of the Outstanding Book of the Year Award for Most Life-Changing.  By God’s grace, one day at a time, she is now living free of food addiction, binge eating disorder, and body image distortion.


Franciscan priest Richard Rohr is founding director of the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He considers the proclamation of the gospel to be his primary call, and some related themes he addresses include eco-spirituality, Scripture as liberation, non-dual thought, the integration of action and contemplation, peace and justice issues, and male spirituality. Author of numerous books, including Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality. Preparing for Christmas With Richard Rohr: Daily Meditations for Advent, and Wondrous Encounters: Scripture for Lent, he gives retreats and lectures internationally. He is a regular contributing writer for Sojourners and Tikkun magazines. Richard Rohr spoke about Breathing Under Water during a live webcast on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2011.

Featured photo © Stephen Bonk




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