When I do something for you, I’m not doing it for you, I’m doing it for me. “Charity is really self-interest disguised under the form of altruism” Anthony de Mello Awareness
My life today depends on being of service. Not only am I self employed in a service oriented profession, I have integrated a desire to be helpful and generous wherever possible. The most important realization to me about this is, that it truly is selfishness that is behind it. By recognizing and admitting that, I am relived of the urge to pat myself on the back. It’s just something I have to do today. I must give back in measure of what has been freely given to me.
This is, in case you were wondering, the last installment on principles to live by. (For me in particular) Service is the principle behind the 12th step from Alcoholics Anonymous. In the book this is where it describes how by sharing our experience with recovery from alcoholism/addiction, we are able to stay sober/clean.
I am of the mind that I can take this idea and incorporate it into the entire way I am. Looking for and finding ways I can be helpful. Being generous with my time money and acquisitions. Listening when someone is speaking, without formulating a response before they’re finished. And most of all acknowledging and expressing gratitude when someone is helpful to me.
I feel so lucky to be able to embrace, wholeheartedly, the idea that I can improve my conscious contact with God. I acknowledge that many face seemingly insurmountable obstacles when even considering this. It started with the barest beginnings with me. Saying Please when I wake and Thank you as I lay down to end my day.
I am, in this piece, divulging my experience with spirituality. This is the principle behind AAs 11th step- Sought, through prayer and meditation, to improve our conscious contact with God As we understood Him, Praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
I find it impossible to describe what or who my God is. I ascribe to the idea that God is incomprehensible to the human mind. In addition, that the greatest obstacle to finding God is the word, God. In my endeavor to get and stay clean and sober, I devoured all sorts of spiritual and religious texts. We here in the U.S., how each of us is exposed to God is one of family tradition. Neither my mother or father was outwardly religious, from what I can remember. I consider that a blessing, I had not been, “indoctrinated”, in any one flavor of Christianity. I, to this day, could not tell you the difference between a Baptist to a Lutheran and don’t think it matters. My encounter with God is personal and unique to myself. I have no right to say what is right for you.
I do believe though it is important to exhibit (be) an example of the change that God/Christ has made in my life, however failingly.
There is a source of Grace, Mercy, Strength, and Love available to any and all who find a reason to seek for any of those. It is unlimited and infinite. I have found it is also not possible to ever stop getting closer to this source. Call what you will, if any who care to, can stop and be still for even a moment, will find it is there and always will be.
Like the fragrance of a flower, the warmth of the sun, the refreshment of a summer rain, God is in me and I am in Him. Spirituality is the cornerstone/keystone of my life today. As best as I am able I am in a constant state of prayer/meditation/mindfulness. If I get caught up in my natural frailties, inevitably something brings me back, a bug hitting my windshield, a bird in flight, the breeze on a hot day, the smile of a stranger, the beauty of a piece of music or the way lyrics of a song touch. Events such as these will help me remember what I’m here for. To be of service, more in my next installment.
We I’m here, writing again about principles that I work toward living by. Today I am writing about justice, which is aligned with the 9th step. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
For me though, the step is taking direct action out of love for my one self. I have done a great deal of harm toward others by acts of commission and omission. And in doing so damaged my spirit, my being, this damage led to a pain of the sort that compelled me to continue using. At this stage of working through the 12 steps, I have gained a better knowledge of myself and my frailties. I have also become more sensitive to the effects of my behavior on myself and others.
I must do what I can too, to start healing myself. If I delay, I will endure discomfort and continue to crave relief, leading to all kinds of odd self-seeking self-gratifying and potentially harmful knucklehead activities. I must reach out to those I have affected and offer to make things right. No apologies, I merely acknowledge the infraction and the desire to make it right.
This excerpt from The Big Book Alcoholics Anonymous is often recited at meetings and they have all come true for me.
If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed beforewe are halfway through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves. Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us–sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them.
Continuing with my venture into describing principles acquired, developed, learned, what have you, recovering from addiction. It is my assertion that the 12 steps and the order they are in, are divinely inspired. All of the previous steps and principles are needed to make progress to the next.
So we’re at step 8. Made a list of all the people we harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
Old timers say that the principle here is brotherly love, there seems to be a bit of debate about this as I have seen a few others. Willingness, discipline among others. I contend that it truly is Love.
I have realized that what I do to or for others I inflict or provide to myself. My spirit is damaged or enriched by the actions I take toward others. Even just in thought.
If I am to heal my being and become a decent human, able to interact and function in society. I must be rid of the hurt I have caused myself and others. Writing down the names of those I have harmed and becoming willing to bridge the chasm created by my behavior is an imperative exercise on the road to recovery.
Contemplating the love of God is invaluable in this undertaking. God knows my heart and all of my history and Loves me. I must do, be that love to work through this.
On the brink of May 2017, I am continuing to share my experience with spiritual principals learned and incorporated into my life as the result of following the program of recovery from alcoholism. The 12 steps in Alcoholics Anonymous.
Today we’re at step seven, “Humbly asked Him, to remove our shortcomings.” The principle behind this one is Humility. I’ll start with the definition then relate what I’ve heard and learned.
the quality or condition of being humble; modest opinion or estimate of one’s own importance, rank, etc.
Now considering all of that and what I know of humility it’s just a bunch of words trying to describe something that is on the verge of indescribable.
Being humble or having humility is, I have heard, “Not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.” “Being Right Sized”
For me, it is the polar opposite of what we’re taught to be. Consider others before myself. My importance is derived from what I have to offer, not what’s in it for me. If I’m in pain or struggling, that is within me and not the result of what I may think has been done to me. I’m responsible. I’m willing to be a cause in the matter.
If you want to make a difference, start with the person you’ve known, longer than anybody else. Me 😛
“If you want what we have and are willing to go to any lengths to get it.” Then you are ready to take certain steps. From How it works. Here we/I are/am at step 6
Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
So I have identified and shared my less than savory aspects of my behavior. I have also discovered where I have been deceitful to myself and others to achieve my objectives and the self-centered fear behind all of that.
How does one become entirely ready for anything, much less having all of my survival mechanisms removed? I must first recognize that they might not be and that it’s not up to me that they are removed. As with all the occasions where I find that I am reluctant, I am instructed to pray.
As I become willing for my character to be repaired, I am faced with being an active participant. Namely, where I have been dishonest, I need to stop lying. Where I have been lazy, I need to get up off my ass and do something positive/productive. Where I have been disingenuous, I need to learn how to say no.
The most important thing, in my opinion here, is to have and cultivate greater faith that all is well and I will be allowed to make mistakes to learn valuable lessons. And that is not only ok, it is Good.
Welcome, if you’ve not been following along on our trip, investigating the spiritual principles behind working the steps found in the 12 Steps, primarily from the book Alcoholics Anonymous
So here we are at Step 5 Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being, the exact nature of our wrongs. I am not going to talk here, about how it’s done, or why, or the ways to overcome the inevitable reluctance to performing this step. There is a plethora of writing on those subjects.
I want to relay my experience of how admitting the sheer wretchedness of myself leads to integrity.
When I first learned that integrity was the principle behind this, I automatically thought #1 here and was confused other than the idea of integrating my entire past, however repulsive, by honest admission.
I have found, though that this step is imperative to arriving at #2 being whole.
Throughout my life, I denied or fought my demons or impaired myself to escape it. In doing so I gave these secrets power, which in turn pushed me to even more erratic insanity. I have to be a member of the human race and society, however painful it is. By sharing my weaknesses and flaws with another, healing my battered character can begin.