Thursday, July 03, 2014

Notes on Sobriety: The Humility of Step

Step 7, humbly asked him to remove our shortcomings, used to feel like a twig in the eye. Being an agnostic atheist in recovery each time the word “God” or one of the ineffable pronouns, such as “Him” was used I stopped listening. It drove me absolutely bat shit crazy. More than once I found myself reevaluating why I was in such a theistic recovery program. Wasn’t there another way?

However, I love the people in my home group. I love the care and concern that I’ve been given by others in program. I’ve ultimately decided to stick with it and let my friends have their god or higher power and remember to keep the focus of my recovery on me and not on what someone else believes. This is the basis of a sound recovery program.

I don’t come to these rooms to debate beliefs or discuss theology and philosophy. I come to AA and to AL-Anon to learn how to heal from the disease of alcoholism and to help others do the same. I come to share, listen and learn. I come to bear witness to the pain and the joy of the family of my choosing. Hopefully, as I apply the principals of this program in all my affairs the improvements in my own life and character will also benefit my family of origin. If it doesn’t than I have my own wellbeing and that is enough.

These days whenever I encounter the word god or one of the many pronouns associated with deity I just use it as a reminder that I don’t have all the answers. No matter how smart I am or smart I think I am, the latter being the case really, I still have limits to my knowledge, my understanding and my abilities.  I still need help and I need the love and care of other people too. Additionally others need my love and support. This is how we help each other.

Ultimately, Step 7 is really about an ongoing character refinement that underpins my entire process of recovery – humility.  It doesn’t matter where the answers to my problem or the help I need comes from. It just matters that help comes.  Before this realization I was often like the man in the old joke that waited for god to save him from drowning in the flood. He ultimately died because he refused the help that came in the form of a log, canoe, row boat etc.  Qualifying what acceptable sources of help are may blind me to the generosity of others and the legitimate help that is being offered to me in the here and now. I can apply the slogan, “keep an open mind,” without succumbing to credulity – a fear that is often the basis of my intellectual arrogance.

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