This week’s “Here’s To Your Health,” is a continuation of Step Seven taken from Bill Wilson’s book, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. “Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.” True, most of us thought good character was desirable, but obviously good character was something one needed to get on with the business of being self-satisfied. With a proper display of honesty and morality, we’d stand a better chance of getting what we really wanted. But whenever we had to choose between character and comfort, the character building was lost in the dust of the chase after what we thought was happiness. Seldom did we look at character building as something we would like to strive for whether our instinctual needs were met or not. We never thought of making honesty, tolerance, and true love of man and God the daily basis of living.
This lack of anchorage to any permanent values, this blindness to the true purpose of our lives, produced another bad result. For just so long as we were convinced that we could live exclusively by our own individual strength and intelligence, for just that long was a working faith in a Higher Power impossible. This was true even when we believed that God existed. We could actually have earnest religious beliefs, which remained barren because we were still trying to play God ourselves. As long as we placed self-reliance first, a genuine reliance upon a Higher Power was out of the question. That basic ingredient of all humility is a desire to seek and do God’s will.
For us the process of gaining a new prospective was unbelievably painful. It was only by repeated humiliations that we were forced to learn something about humility. It was only at the end of a long road, marked by successive defeats and humiliations, and the final crushing of our self-sufficiency, that we began to feel humility as something more than a condition of groveling despair. Every newcomer in Alcoholics Anonymous is told, and soon realizes for his or her self, that their humble admission of powerlessness over alcohol is the first step toward liberation from its paralyzing grip.
So it is that we first see humility as a necessity. But this is the barest beginning. To get completely away from our aversion to the idea of being humble, to gain a vision of humility as the avenue to true freedom of the human spirit, to be willing to work for humility as something to be desired of itself, takes most of us a long, long time. A whole lifetime geared to self-centeredness cannot be set in reverse all at once. At first, rebellion dogs our every step.
When we have finally admitted without reservation that we are powerless over alcohol, we are apt to breathe a great sigh of relief, saying, “Well, thank God that’s over! I’ll never have to go through that again!” Then we learn, often to our consternation, that this is only the first milestone on the road we are walking. Still goaded by sheer necessity, we reluctantly come to grips with those serious character flaws that made problem drinkers of us in the first place, flaws that must be dealt with to prevent a retreat into alcoholism once again. We will want to be rid of some of these defects, but in some instances this will appear to be an impossible job from which we recoil. And we cling with a passionate persistence to others, which are just as disturbing to our equilibrium; we still enjoy them too much. How can we possibly summon the resolution and the willingness to get rid of such overwhelming compulsions and desires?
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