Straining at Gnats and Swallowing Camels

I am getting quite the late start in writing this post, to the point where I almost opted not write it, but we had such a good meeting this morning, I wanted to share it with all of you.

I wrote last week that a newer attendee of my meeting was celebrating 26 years of sobriety, and opted to share her celebration with my Monday morning group.  I was both honored and humbled by this decision… I would imagine that after 26 years of attending meetings, there are all sorts of options available to her, so it means a  lot to me that she chose my itty-bitty meeting!  She brought some people with her, which will hopefully mean more future attendees!

So, first, there is always such joy in announcing an anniversary.  You can feel the collective pride in the room, as if it were a separate entity, and it never fails to amaze me. I asked her to select the reading for this week, and she selected a chapter entitled “Watching Out For Anger and Resentment,” a topic that any alcoholic/addict should contemplate/read/discuss on a regular basis.

Now the only catch in her selection is that we had read this exact chapter last month when it was time to read from this particular book, so we all heard each other’s thoughts on the subject.  For me, especially, as the first to share, I struggled to find something new to say that I hadn’t talked about 4 weeks ago.  But, as in all recovery literature, something new pops out each time I read it,and, as usual, I gained some new insight on the chapter that I shared with the group, as did every person in the room (which is the best part of the smaller meeting!).

The best takeaway for me came from a gentleman who just returned to the meeting (he had been taking an academic course on Monday mornings, and now the course is over).  He has a decent amount of sober time, and he shared that what he looks out for the most in this stage of his sobriety is not the large, dramatic resentments, but the small, petty little annoyances that come up with a much greater frequency.  If he does not handle them, promptly and effectively, they will pile up and disrupt his serenity as surely as one rage-producing issue.   At this point he referenced a bible passage, reportedly quite common (although you can’t prove it by me, I’ve never heard of it!), which is the title of this post.

This share hit me like a ton of bricks, because it describes me perfectly.  Most of the other people at the meeting talked about starting their road to recovery with so much anger they couldn’t see straight.  But this idea of straining at gnats but swallowing camels… this is something to which I can relate.  The big giant issues in life, the crises, the dramatic moments, I can be as cool as a cucumber.  But put me behind a driver who is breaking the “Road Etiquette According to Josie,” and I completely lose it.  Prior to this morning’s meeting, I would just shrug off the road rage as one of my peccadilloes, but now I will look at it in a new light, and do my best to improve my reactions.  Because enough frustration at the idiot drivers on the road, enough disgust at the flawed customer service in any given store, enough annoyance at the repeated mistakes of my children, could lead me back to a mind-altering substance.  When viewed from that perspective, it seems almost ridiculous not to get a grip!

Today’s Miracle:

Well, technically it’s not for a few hours, but what the hell… Happy Birthday to me on the 12th, and what a miracle it is to be celebrating another sober birthday!

Posted on November 11, 2013, in Recovery and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. I was sitting here about an hour ago wondering “is Josie going to post today?” I need my Monday fix…lol. So glad you made it. 🙂

    As for that expression – never heard of it either. New to me, but I get that whole thing of sweating the small stuff. I think we all have our little things that set us off. Funny how for most of us it’s driving. For me it’s people who clip their nails in public (especially the bus or subway). I have a lot more…but in the end I guess it depends on how spiritually fit I am that day…ha ha. But I much the same, Josie. Can take those big things on, but can get derailed on the tiny things.

    And I get what that member was saying about the large things…I think we lose many of those through our inventory, etc. It’s the small things that don’t seem “worthy” of 10th stepping or not that fall between the cracks. And I am guilty of that too. So I try to make sure that I get those piddly things…but I am not always succeeding…ha ha.

    Anyway, Happy Birthday (for tomorrow!). I was just on the the 9th – so hi there fellow Scorpio! 🙂

    Blessings and birthday hugs,


    • And yet another thing we have in common, Paul! I hope you had a wonderful birthday as well (I did, and I am sure you will read about it in today’s post!)

      Thanks for the validation, and what a great perspective… things that are not worth of 10th stepping, boy if I attempted a 10th step every time I acted impatiently, I would be A LOT busier making amends. But now that you have brought it to my attention, I am going to work on it, so thank you!

      Thanks, as always, for checking in!


  2. I love the perspective you put on things in your last paragraph! I so agree… get a grip on the daily irritations. What helps me is to pretend I am telling my hassles and irritations to a patient on the burn unit or to the victims of the recent typhoon in the Philippines.


    • Thea, as always, you are insightful and practical. I am, very seriously, going to adopt this attitude, and picture that scenario in my head the next time I want to complain. If that doesn’t get me in a better frame of mind about the blessings in my life, nothing will!

      Thanks so much for the comment, and the advice!


  3. It just occurred to me how lucky I am to feel like I’ve gotten the best parts of a meeting when I read your posts. I remember the Grapevine as being described as a “meeting in your pocket” and I feel this way too when you describe a reading you shared or about someone taking their 26 year coin. It really means a lot and I’m grateful you choose to share with us, and in such a respectful and humble manner.


  4. I’m with BBB …. I, too, feel I get the gem of the meeting with your posts. Note to self:My thoughts matter. Think and communicate at a higher level Lisa …
    Happy Birthday xox L


    • This is just too funny. Once again, your words are prophetic. You wrote this hours before I worked through or wrote today’s post, but please keep “Think and communicate at a higher level” in your head as you read today’s post. You are my prophet!

      Thanks for the birthday wishes. As you will read, it was a fantastic day!


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