humble

“Create in me a clean heart, O Lord, and renew a right spirit within me.”orange tree

Much of my early adult life was spent believing that I, LarryPaulBrown, marched to the beat of a different drummer.  I continually envisioned myself as a step ahead of the crowd, a few watts brighter than most, a loner totally comfortable with only me as my fan club.  I read all the newest self-help books and listened to only PBS or BBC.  I knew the latest diet fads, drank only spring water, and avoided fried foods like the plague.  My favorite beverage was scotch and water chased by a beer, usually many beers.  Life was a self-contained, self-directed, self-driven existence which everyone could see as a fiasco except me.

Finally at age 34 with the admission that I was an alcoholic, a number of my fondest assessments of myself got knocked down a few notches.  With continued fellowshipping amongst other sober people and with my first 4th step inventory, I became acutely aware that “me, me, me” was not the center of the universe, that actually the universe did not need me at all.  That in itself was a sobering revelation.  Thank God my fellow AAers just smiled and said, “Welcome to the real world.”

Recognizing that I was one of the most insecure, immature, and directionless men I had ever met, the task of rebuilding a wrecked life seemed monumental.  I struggled with anxiety, depression, and sober panic attacks while sitting at the tables with my newly discovered sober friends believing they could not see what was going on inside my head.  Later, I realized that they did indeed know because they, at one point in their early sobriety, suffered the same craziness.  I gave up the thought that marching to a different drummer was cool.  The other fantasies I had about myself slowly disappeared as my own sober time grew.  And the craziness also mellowed to a controllable, occasional period of melancholy.

Life is good today.  It is manageable.  It is uncomplicated.  It is unfettered by emotional highs and lows.  It is no longer a roller-coaster thrill ride.  Humility has been the cornerstone of my recovery.  Humility is defined by Bill W. as….“consisting of a state of complete freedom from myself, freedom from all the claims that my defects of character now lay so heavily upon me.  Perfect humility would be a full willingness, in all times and places, to find and to do the will of God.”  AS BILL SEES IT, pg. 106

Like most newly sober drunks, the last thing I wanted to hear was a lecture about the virtue of humility.  I had been humiliated, degraded, brought to my knees, and defeated by our common enemy of alcoholism. That to me was humility.  I did not need to feel any more inferior to my fellow-man.  But, as stated in his definition, Bill W.’s correction of my misconception about humility established a new playing field.   Self-esteem and self-respect developed.  I learned that I loved myself more fully when I gave myself away; I discovered how a life free of myself was a bold step into a liberation never realized before.  Freed of the restrictions and defects which had previously defined me, I stepped into a world of self-sacrifice previously unpracticed.

Another definition of humility by Bill W. is…..“a clear recognition of what and who we are, followed by a sincere attempt to become who we could be.”  TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, pg. 58

Life is still a work in progress never expecting that there will ever be perfect humility.  Familiar words from the Big Book state, “We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection.”  But, the horizon encountered soberly always offers  a better understanding of my Higher Power with which I hope to become a man who is less addicted to self and more interested in others.  I don’t do anything perfectly, least of all practicing humility.  But, I’m getting better and I know I am at my best when self-will-run-riot takes a back seat to “Thy will be done”.

 

humbled

“a clear recognition of what and who we really are, followed by a sincere attempt to become who we could be.”  Bill W. 12 AND 12 pg 58cropped-brilliance.png

Bill Wilson’s definition of humility can be extremely difficult if I try to cover it with my old ideas about being humble.  I don’t want to be weak.  I don’t want to be submissive.  I don’t want to turn the other cheek.  Humility is not the American way.  We are proud, strong, and invincible.  Then I take a look at my flawed condition and my brokenness.  “Yeah, and look where your pride has taken you,” a voice inside says to me.

That inventory which we are guided to do early in recovery can be a very excruciating experience when we go into it honestly with courage.  I shuddered at the list of transgressions and defects which had to be shared later with God and another person.  I did not want anyone to know my deepest, darkest secrets.  Exposing myself like that would shatter the self-image I presented to the world.  “Yeah, and look where that image has taken you.”  Damn that voice inside.

“His admission is the beginning of humility – at least the newcomer is willing to disclaim that he himself is God.”  Bill W. AS BILL SEES IT pg 191, from a letter of 1966

“a clear recognition of what and who we really are….”  Like most newcomers to the program of Alcoholics Anonymous, I had lived a life apart from the concept of God.  Some of us never knew God, some of us refuted the God which we knew.  When my new sober friends advised that initially the group itself could be the greater power necessary to begin me on the road to recovery, I cautiously accepted that idea.  I had no choice.  My way was described as ‘self-will run riot’ and I had to reluctantly agree.

I love Bill Wilson’s connection between Higher Power and humility.  It tells me that I am not in charge, that I am not in control, that I am not God.  And Bill goes on to say “this is the beginning of humility.”  In my active alcoholism, I had never given credence to the thought of not being the master of my life.  It was an alien idea and totally un-American.

I am not God.  When the miracle of Alcoholics Anonymous is undertaken with this understanding, the 12 steps are not a daunting, unpleasant experience, especially steps 4 and 5.  I am humbled in a fellowship which advocates honesty and courage.  Sober living becomes second nature because I am no longer forced by ethic or tradition to be the man in charge.  No, I don’t control the miracle happening.  I am still a work in progress.  I am still flawed and broken.  But today I know a Higher Power who can heal and fix me.

“Humble yourselves therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.”  1 Peter 5:6

namaste rainbow

 

 

relevance

CANDLE

“This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.”

Does anyone else remember that verse from childhood days in Sunday school class or perhaps vacation Bible school?  Yes, we would all stand up in front of our families, friends, and neighbors gesturing in unison our hands uncovering a candle being held.  The parents, the teachers and the preacher smiled in appreciation for our efforts.

Several weeks ago after church service I shared with a friend that I was feeling extremely irrelevant in today’s world, that a majority of my neighbors followed the beat of a different drummer socially and politically, and alas, even within our congregation there was division and discord.  We talked at length about the political climate, the lack of congenial discourse, the increase of violence.  From previous conversations I knew she was on the same page as I regarding tolerance of and inclusion for differing walks in life.

We talked awhile consoling each other when she twinkled an eye and began singing softly, “this little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.”

Yes, that is what we do as messengers of a Higher Power which embraces things not born of this worldly system, but extremely relevant to our journey.  We shine forth with what we know as truth.  In our AA literature humility is defined as “a clear recognition of what and who we really are, followed by a sincere attempt to become who we could be.”

All too often we view this “humility” thing as a negative, we see it as needing to release pride and self pursuit.  But, if we recognize the greatness which God has empowered within each of us, if we realize the inherent spiritual connection, then we can begin to feel and believe that we do indeed have something to share with the world in which we live.  We are relevant to today’s worldly problems when we understand through genuine humility who we truly are and what our purpose is.

I don’t need a lighthouse, a beacon on a hill, the bright lights of fame, nor the adoration of the multitudes to walk this path with purpose or relevance.  I’ve been given my own personal little candle to hold and, by the grace of God, I’m gonna let it shine.

rainbow-solidarity

Humility

“……a clear recognition of what and who we really are, followed by a sincere attempt to become what we could be.”  pg 58  TWELVE STEPS & TWELVE TRADITIONS

http://www.aa.org/pages/en_US/twelve-steps-and-twelve-traditions

Humility is not about being a shrinking violet or assuming an attitude of deference.  No, our sobriety literature says humility is an act of celebration followed by stepping out into the world and embracing the restored life our Higher Power has given us thus empowering us with a renewed involvement in the world.