Powerless Over What?

We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.

Step 1 of the Twelve Steps of Al-Anon

“It’s not just alcohol you are powerless over. You are powerless over people, places, and things that are not … you.” My sponsor spared none of my feelings those first 2 years of recovery in Al-Anon. And – she gave me an incredibly powerful gift. “Replace ‘alcohol’ with whatever you’re stressing over. See if it fits.”


“I admit I am powerless over … my church?”

Yep. Yep, I am. I am powerless over the structures, the ideologies, the mis-interpretations, the power plays, the misogyny, the racism, the elitism, the entrenched hierarchies, the abuse – oh dear God, the abuse, and so much more that exists in the Church.

I am powerless over 70+ year old folks who refuse to let go of their authority, leaving nowhere for younger folks to lead. I am powerless over younger folks who flit from congregation to congregation, hungry for something but not willing to commit to working to find what they are looking for. I am powerless over my own generation – Gen-X – who statistically left church and become Done.

I am powerless over the misconception that being a minister means I CHOOSE to be impoverished – So. Not. True. I am powerless over how scrutinized I am regarding the money I spend – especially during stewardship month. I am powerless over the false belief that I don’t pay taxes. (Ahem. Wanna really see how much I end up paying each year? It’s a LOT!)

I am powerless over how folks in church have mistreated my children -and I am powerless over how my children have chosen to avoid anything to do with “church.” I am powerless over how my pastor husband has been abused over two decades and some of ministering.

I am powerless over the histories of Christianity – the abuses, the bloodletting, the toxicity of politics and religion scratching each other’s backs, the wars, the malformed theologies, the death-dealing rigidities, and the loss of the diversities over the centuries.

I am powerless over fundamentalist piety and damnation. I am powerless over progressive denial of evil and sin. I am powerless over establishment’s entrenched refusal to see beloved people through sacred eyes.

I am powerless over any thing not within my hula hoop.


My hula hoop. Another of my sponsor’s brilliant metaphor’s – she had me imagine taking a hula hoop and placing on the floor. She then had me step in to it. She then said, “Cristine. What’s in the hula hoop?” I answered, “Me?” She grinned (with a bit of snark) and said, “All you can control is what is in your hula hoop.”

She then left me to ponder her words and their reality.

I really am powerless over the Church. And that is a blessed thing, indeed.

Disclaimer: The links to Al-anon resources anywhere on this site are just that … resources. There is no affiliate program for Al-Anon. You can find Al-Anon meetings here.

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