Thoughts on Recovery – No. 56 – We are putting our lives in order but that is not an end in itself – What is our real purpose? Into Action – Page 77
I am looking at the 3 sentences on the top of page 77. In the last thought I focused on how we are trying to put our lives in order. But this is not an end in itself. “Our real purpose is to fit ourselves to be of maximal service to God and the people about us.” How do we do that?
How do I fit myself? Isn’t that what we are starting to do in steps 4-9. In step 3 I make a decision. This decision is to turn my will and my life over to the care of God. Steps 4-9 are designed to sweep away the debris of my past. Cleaning house. Facing and being rid of the things blocking me from God’s power, guidance, and direction.
Step 4 is where I can see the truth about my behavior. My resentments. My fears. My conduct. They are the manifestations of my life lived on self will. My attempt to satisfy the instincts of life. My self centered thinking triggers my character defects. These led to harmful and shameful actions. I need to live a God centered and directed life. I have become willing to have these character defects removed when they crop up. I am trying with Gods power to practice the characteristics of a God centered personality. I have prayers to ask God to remove my anger and fears whenever they surface and change the way I react. In step 9 I am making amends to those I have harmed unless to do so will cause more harm. I have forgiven everyone on my list. I am beginning to fit myself to fill my purpose in life.
Too fit myself means to get myself in proper relationship with God so I can be of service to him and others and to practice love and tolerance. Fit myself. To get into condition. When one wants to get physically fit we exercise and take action. Now I am trying to get spiritually fit. I need to do spiritual exercises. Steps 4-9 can be seen as a set of spiritual exercises that prepare me to be spiritually fit. However these steps are just the beginning of my spiritual training. I am learning what exercises I need to do and how to properly do them. I am just beginning this process of getting spiritually fit.
How fit do I have to be? They tell me that I need to continue to improve my spiritual condition every day. I am never cured . I get a daily reprieve from my alcoholism by maintaining a fit spiritual condition. But they tell me I must continue to GROW in understanding and effectiveness in the world of the spirit. So I must exercise every day. Since alcohol is cunning, baffling, powerful, and a mortal foe I can never be satisfied in my spiritual condition! I must stride for improving my fitness all the time. Step 10 is where I practice steps 4-9 as an exercise program every day for the rest of my life!
I ride a stationary bike every day. Been doing it for many years. Today I did almost seventeen miles in one hour. For my age that is very fit. If I take even a few days off it is very hard to repeat that level the first day back. If I take longer time off, the first day back, I am even less fit. So the point is how fit do I need to be today to combat my alcoholism?
The founders are implying that if we let up on our spiritual training we will be in trouble. Step 10 is where I use the tools I learned in steps 4-9 each day. The purpose each day is to maximally serve God and those about me. My effort in doing step 10 will determine how effectively I am able to do that. Step 11 is where I inventory each night how effectively I exercised each day.
Remember my purpose is to be of maximal service to God and those about me. So I need to be serious about doing my spiritual exercises every day. I cannot take a day off. I cannot live a spiritual life if I am not spiritually fit. Remember we seek spiritual progress not spiritual perfection! They are saying I need to progress and to progress means I need to keep working harder every day. I cannot reach a point where I am satisfied with my spiritual condition. If I begin to think that way than I am beginning to slip away. The more I slip away the further I get from God. Being far from God is a dangerous place for this alcoholic.
I must remember that I cannot stop seeking. Not stop growing. Not stop working my spiritual exercises. Never be satisfied. Why? I have a disease that doesn’t want me to grow spiritually because then my ego loses power over me! If I want God to give me power to live I need to constantly fit myself to receive it!
The purpose of spiritual exercise is to keep myself in the world of the spirit. If I am in the world of the spirit I receive the 9th step promises. I keep them in my life by staying in this world. In that world Alcohol will have no power over me and I will be God centered not self centered. But staying in this world requires constant effort. Our work is never done.
In the next thought I am going to look at the 9th step promises and try to put them into context and then will look at step 10. welcome any comments email@example.com
“Step 4 is where I can see the truth about my behavior. My resentments. My fears. My conduct. I see how my character defects have driven my life.”
How does this statement change with the knowledge that my behavior and character defects are mere manifestations (physical evidence) of my Self.
Constantly working (imperfectly) to remain close to God every day produced a small miracle for me Sunday. I’d decided for myself to not attend my church. But God pushed me there through an unusually strong desire to ignore “my plan” for that morning, which had been to go into my office instead. During the service I turned at the point when everyone was to give the “sign of peace”. I found I was shaking hands and delivering that blessing to a person who figures prominently in the 1st column of my house cleaning inventory—a person I’ve spent several months praying to forgive and act with love toward despite my character defects which encourage me to resent and be inconsiderate of. I am absolutely convinced God brought us together Sunday. It never occurred to me this person was even a follower of Christ, let alone a member of “my “ parish. It was a jarring and emotional, electric event I will never forget. God put us both there in those particular pews at that particular time to give us both the opportunity to choose to follow his son’s example. I don’t care whether or not my “opponent” gets the message or not. But I’d have to be a bigger fool than even my alcoholic brain urges to ignore the hand of God in this. I wept with gratitude to God afterward for the first time in my life. I hope and believe it won’t be the last if I continue to work every day all day to obtain and maintain conscious contact with God.