M(3), 7/21: Listening With a New Set of Ears (The Better Late Than Never Series)

I have stopped and started with this post all week because I have out-of-town guests (my sister and her family, in from the West Coast).  I would think to myself, “I need to go sit in front of the computer and finish that post up!”  But then I would turn around and there would be somebody interesting to talk to right in front of me, and I would be waylaid, yet again.  As this “staycation” finishes up on Friday and I leave for a vacation with my husband’s side of the family Saturday, I figured I better at least knock this one out, because I won’t be sitting down to do this again for a while.

So Monday’s meeting was a unique experience for me.  It marked the first time someone from my personal life attended the meeting I run:  the same West Coast sister I mentioned above.  As George Costanza from Seinfeld would say, “Worlds are colliding!”  But I jest, because there was nothing uncomfortable about her being there; in fact, it offered me a unique perspective in listening with a newcomer’s ears.  This was my sister’s first visit to any 12-step meeting, much less the one I run, so I felt like I was listening with a different set of ears… how do we in the meeting sound to an outsider?

Our reading selection for the week was Step Seven from Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions.  Step seven is:

Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings

In most meetings I have attended that discuss step seven, the topic most often covered is humility, and this meeting was no exception.  I shared my favorite definition of humility, the one that was easiest for my early sobriety brain to grasp:  not to think less of yourself, but to think of yourself less.  It was an important lesson for me, both in early sobriety, and today, as I am one to think I can skate by on the humility lectures, because I run towards the lower side on the self-confidence scale.  And if I’m low on self-confidence, then I am humble, right?  A big WRONG on that one.  If I’m making everything in life about me, then I’m the opposite of humble.  This definition reminds me to get out of my own head and think about others.

A timely reminder, as I have had all sorts of family gatherings that have tested this resolve.  The day before the meeting, several family members that I consider close friends made some remarks about me that I found highly offensive.  I did not find out about the comments until hours after they were said; in fact, I was getting ready to go to bed when I found out.  Of course, bed time was delayed as I stewed about the various ways to let my feelings be known.  I was half out of the chair on the way to my email, where my program of recovery stopped me, and guided me gently back into my seat.  I was nowhere near ready to let it go, but I’ve learned enough to know that any reaction I was to have at that moment would not be my best one.  So I calmed myself down, and figured I could always write the email in the morning.

And of course the topic was humility, and I am once again humbled by the way God speaks to me.  Because at the end of the day, the offensive comments spoke louder about the people making them than they do about me.  In the situation about which I’m speaking, when I consciously apply humility to the situation, then answer is so obvious it’s almost funny, and it immediately made me feel better.  Gratitude galore for me at the meeting.

So, back to the original point:  how did the meeting sound with my own ears, differently tuned due to a newcomer?  I heard a group of people from all walks of life:  religious, educational, blue-collar, home makers, happily jumping in to share their thoughts on a topic thrown out at them at random.  Every person listened attentively, and built their discussion upon all the previous shared experiences.  I saw people attending a meeting for the sheer joy of the fellowship, although I know from personal experience so much more is at stake.  I heard true joy and laughter, and I saw empathy and light bulb moments throughout the entire 60 minutes.

What did my sister see?  She told me she was surprised at the level of happiness all the people present showed at being there that morning, how joyfully they greeted one another.  She was impressed by how well people spoke, and what meaningful things each had to say.  She was amazed at the level of emotion one woman showed, as she had been away from the meeting (and, in fact, out of the country) for three weeks, and she was so happy to be back.  Finally, she was surprised by the excitement everyone displayed when I announced I had baked a cake, but I told her that’s less 12-step related and more universally human:  who doesn’t like it when someone bakes them a cake?

I was proud to bring my sister to meet my friends, and I was equally as proud to show off my friends to my sister.

To all of my blogging friends:  I miss you all so much, my inbox is overflowing with tantalizing announcements of unread posts.  I am really hopeful to get back to the reading and commenting side of things when I am away next week.  I hope everyone is well, and I will be catching up with all of you soon!

Today’s Miracle:

If you are reading this, then most definitely today’s miracle is hitting “Publish.”  This is the longest I have ever spent on a single post!





Posted on July 25, 2014, in Monday Meeting Miracles, Recovery and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. That’s so cool that you sister was there! It’s cool to hear how others see it. I know when my family were at my 1 yr medallion, they were very impressed too. Smashed ideas of what a meeting is like.

    And yes! Humility is not laying down in front of everyone and trying to people please and be a martyr. As you wisely said, it’s the opposite. It’s self-centeredness just turned on it’s head. But it’s all about us there, isn’t it. It’s all about us being right sized. Not lesser nor greater. And that’s been a struggle for me for a while, but am getting into a good place about that now, Josie. I think you’re there too, no? We’re God’s children too, ya know 🙂

    Glad you had restraint there, Josie. I had a situation at work where I could have really let someone have it, but restrained (everyone was impressed) and that was more because I didn’t want the situation to be about me and what I did…I would rather the other party see the error of their ways unimpeded by me having a meltdown…lol.

    Love the post!



  2. Late comments! Been catching up with posts I’ve missed… I love this definition of humility: “not to think less of yourself, but to think of yourself less”. I will remember that. Your whole description there … if I’m low on self confidence, then I’m humble, right? That’s me. Reading this post was a real lightbulb moment for me, just as you describe people in your meeting having! I honestly would have said that I was humble, but no… I am definitely guilty of, as Paul says, “laying down in front of everyone and trying to people please and be a martyr”, making it all about *me* and generally being a pain and uptight and not a lot of fun to be with. Ack. I’ve done it this evening, an hour before reading your post! Food for thought here… thanks for your insights 🙂 xx


  3. I like your post very much i had nice time while reading your post


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