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.