It is one of the most beautiful compensations of life, that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself. -Ralph Waldo Emerson
I’ve got to make this quick, kiddies are clamoring. Big, BIG news: I have been asked to be a sponsor! Obviously much more to follow…
I think today’s miracle is self-evident!
When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. –Ralph Waldo Emerson
This morning I woke up about an hour earlier than I am scheduled to get up, then could not fall back to sleep to save my life. Then I had the same argument about outerwear with my son that I’ve had about 150 times. We were rushing to get to school early because he is participating in his school’s Reading Olympics. So I get to the drop-off line, and no one is there to let him in. After many phone calls, I figure out I had the date wrong, and the early morning practices don’t begin for another 2 weeks. At this point we either sit in the parking lot for 25 minutes, or go home and come back. We sit and wait. While we sit and wait, a song comes on the radio that I like (Joe Cocker‘s Feelin’ Alright), so I start to sing. Keep in mind we are completely alone in a big parking lot. My son then yells at me for embarrassing him with my singing (remember, we are alone in the car, and in the parking lot), which then leads to another argument.
I’m writing about all of this because, despite all this aggravation, I am having a fantastic morning. Because none of these incidents determine my day, only my attitude towards these incidents.
The end of the story, and the part I am choosing to focus on, is this: after the “disagreement,” and several minutes of silence, I start flipping the radio, and come across the same song that started the fight. My son asks, “what song is this anyway?” I tell him the name of the song and the artist, and his 10-year old giggles over the last name have me smiling even now…
That I can choose to look at the good, instead of the annoying, in a situation.
What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson
Because it is June, the 6th month of the year, many of the meetings I have attended recently focus on the 6th step, which is:
were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character
I am nowhere near Step 6 in my own recovery, and anything I hear about it overwhelms me, because the idea of trying to even comprehend all of my defects of character seems like an insurmountable task, much less working towards ridding myself of them!
What has been interesting, in studying this step, is thinking about the “less glaring” defects that we all have. When contemplating defects, I imagine most people think of the big ones. For example, addicts belonging to a 12-step program are obviously seeking help in removing the obsession to drink or use drugs. This is a glaring defect, one which causes immense discomfort to the individual, and consequently there is a big motivation to eradicate it.
But what of the smaller defects, ones that bring no real discomfort to our lives, and in fact can bring pleasure? Gossiping is a good example… it is clearly a defect of character, but for those of us who engage in this habit, can we really say we are entirely ready to rid ourselves of it? There are many such examples of lesser defects that we all possess, and should want to eliminate, but that does not mean we actually want to rid ourselves of them!
One of my primary “smaller” character defects, as I understand them at the present time, is impatience. It runs rampant through my life, but does no major damage (of which I am aware, anyway). But it is so ingrained in my life, and has been with me so long, I simply can’t imagine myself as a patient person.
So how do I work on it? Again, I am not on this step yet, so I’m sure my answer will change in time, but for now I have received this piece of advice that makes perfect sense to me, and I am going to try it out and see how it works: ask God to remove your character defect, and then act as if He has already done it. Truthfully, I have laughed each time I have pictured myself trying to act like a patient person, but, as is said all the time in AA, it’s about progress, not perfection!