“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 58
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