No More Wonder Woman

The first step in the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous says: We admitted we were powerless over alcohol-that our lives had become unmanageable

When you talk to anyone in a twelve-step program, they say that this first step is one of the hardest. Who wants to admit they are powerless? Who wants to admit they can’t manage life? It’s those confessions that keep many from recovery. But it’s the place they have to start in order to heal. Admitting powerlessness is the key that unlocks the process. It’s the obstacle that needs to be surmounted in order to know healing, serenity, and the ever-present love of a Higher Power.

We had our first Firstfruits Well Time session on Zoom this past Wednesday morning. Over thirty women joined us as we shared our fears, our concerns, and our hope. After the session one of the participants sent me an email with a reflection by Henri Nouwen. I want to share it with you.

Obstacles to God’s Love by Henri Nouwen

What keeps us from opening to the reality of the world? Could it be that we cannot accept our powerlessness and are only willing to see those wounds that we can heal? Could it be that we don’t want to give up our illusion that we are masters over our world and, therefore, create our own Disneyland where we can make ourselves believe that all events of life are safely under control? Could it be that our blindness and deafness are signs of our own resistance to acknowledging that we are not the Lord of the Universe? It is hard to allow these questions to go beyond the level of rhetoric and to really sense in our innermost self how much we resent our powerlessness.

I have a hard time accepting my powerlessness. How about you? Until we can accept that powerlessness as reality, we can’t know fully the love God has for us.

It’s in the laying down of our swords that we let in the love and provision that God has waiting for us. Our need to feel in control is one of the biggest obstacles to experience healing, serenity, and the ever-present love of our God.

Take that first step I quoted earlier and replace “alcohol” with a blank. Then fill in the blank for yourself. What do you need to admit you are powerless over? Really powerless. Where do you think you have control but you really don’t?

Where has your life become unmanageable? Maybe it’s not your outward life. Perhaps you are still keeping your house clean, your bills paid, and the refrigerator filled. To an outsider looking in you are “managing” just fine. But inside, your emotional life has become unmanageable. Fear has you unable to curb your temper. Sadness has you unable to enjoy the silver linings. Anxiety has you monitoring your temperature hourly.

Trust that thing to God. Lay down the sword.

This time, when our world as we knew it has been spun around and turned upside down, we are reminded of how truly powerless we are. But we are also reminded of the One who is waiting to fill that powerlessness we feel with his power through his unshakable love.

The second step in The Twelve Steps of AA says: Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. Ahh, there’s the hope. Sanity and serenity are only a belief away. Let’s help each other see and believe what is right before our eyes. Hang up the Wonder Woman cape and wrap God’s arms around you instead.


Joan Carey, Firstfruits executive director, is an author and speaker with a passion for helping women grow in their relationships with God. Her Ponder This book contains a series of modern day parables sure to get you thinking about and seeing our extraordinary God in our ordinary experiences. Joan invites you to use resources on this website for daily reflection in your journey to grow in God's loving care for you.
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