Last week was a difficult week for me. I was struggling with stress from work, the time I was spending with my recovery groups, time with family, time with church obligations, and on top of that I felt like I was not giving enough attention and effort to my relationship with my wife. I felt like I was crumbling underneath it all and not doing well in any one of them. I was beginning to feel self-pity, resentment, fear, and anger. I ignored it for a few days, but finally I found the humility to admit that I was once again powerless over this struggle and needed to reach out to someone immediately. I prayed to ask God to remove from me what I could not handle. I texted my sponsor to see if he could call me that day or the next — and thankfully, he was available that evening. What a blessing it always is to talk to him. He’s been in recovery for almost 6 years now and reads the Big Book constantly and most times his advice comes right from the book itself.
When he called, I shared exactly what I had been going through and I did not hesitate to recognize and admit my own selfish behaviors as part of the problem. I am still very much human after all! He had a good chuckle, and was quick to relate to me that he could remember going through what I was going through in that very moment not too many years ago himself. It was good to hear his voice. It was good to not be judged for my character defects. It was good to hear him laugh and realize that if he could get through this using the 12 steps — then so could I! We talked about what my patterns of study and use of the steps was each day and he soon zeroed in on something that I had been missing each day.
In step 11 it instructs us:
On awakening let us think about the twenty-four hours ahead. We consider our plans for the day. Before we begin, we ask God to direct our thinking, especially asking that it be divorced from self-pity, dishonest or self-seeking motives. (AA Big Book, Chap 6, page 86)
I was actively performing the first part of step 11 each morning (there is also instruction for the end of our day and I encourage you to read it if you haven’t before — or to read it again if you have). BUT, I had completely forgotten about the second half of my morning prayers:
Before we begin, we ask God to direct our thinking, especially asking that it be divorced from self-pity, dishonest or self-seeking motives.
As my sponsor repeated this to me from memory my heart felt lifted, and my mind cleared — for I knew this was the answer to my dilemma! I had forgotten to ask God each morning to remove my character defects that stood in the way of me going about His work helping my fellow brothers and serving my wife, family, and friends. In that moment, I knew God was guiding my sponsor and guiding me. I received the answer I was looking for but unable to find on my own.
Once again, I was reminded that I cannot solve this myself. God will solve it for me if I will but give it to Him, and then commit myself to work on those things He would like me to do for Him throughout each day. I was trying to actively do His work each day, but I wasn’t seeking His help to do that work. I had fallen back into the trap of “self-reliance” that is merely a clever mask for “selfish pride”. Yes, God has enabled us with minds of our own. Yes, He has given us talents with which we can perform amazing works. But He also has given us weaknesses as a reminder that we should continually seek Him out for assistance.
For when we are humble, and remember Him, He will take our weaknesses and help us do great works in His name.
Sigh. It seems so simple when I write it down and read it back — but I forget. Over, and over again. The nice thing though, is that no matter how many times I forget, no matter how halting my progress is as I try to improve, God is ALWAYS there for me. Always. Every time. He doesn’t hold a grudge. He doesn’t quit on me. He doesn’t have resentment or anger towards me. He loves me. Always 🙂
And He loves you too! No matter where you are in your progress to heal, just keep going. We get credit for trying. We improve with the tiniest steps. Keep taking them! You can do it.
My name is Mike