Nikos Kazantzakis, philosopher and writer (He wrote “Zorba the Greek”) said, “In the first half of life we fight the devil; in the second half of life we fight God.” He was saying that in our growing up and in young adulthood we are learning what not to do and about right and wrong, But in the second half of life—in maturity and in our aging into death --we let go of rules and surrender to what is bigger and unknowable.
The first half of life is about discipline and self control and managing yourself. But the second half of life is about giving up control; it is about surrender. That, of course, is much harder.
I was chewing on these ideas today and I realized that there is a parallel for us in recovery. In the first period of recovery (as we go into the woods) we fight the devils: alcohol, substances, addiction, impulse, weakness, and our “character defects”. We learn self control and self management and discipline—what many of us did not learn earlier. We learn the disciplines of AA to give our lives structure. And in later recovery (maybe the “out of the woods” period) we seek God even more than abstinence, and having some structure then from living a 12 step life—we then live sober not to follow rules but as surrender. We go from the known and dictated and externally imposed toward what is greater than us and what is completely unknown. Hence faith.