In the Original Manuscript of the Big Book, on page 26 of that manuscript, Step Seven reads: Humbly, on our knees, asked Him to remove our shortcomings, holding nothing back.
There are such religious notions, peppered throughout the Original Manuscript. Not all of them made it into the first printing of the Big Book in 1939.
I actually have a First Edition Big Book, printed in 1939.
Some of the more drastic “suggestions” that might seem, just a little too harsh for the sensibilities of those who see the Judeo-Christian influences in the Big Book, a problem in getting sober, were scrubbed from the final copy that went to print.
In one pass at my Steps a few years ago, in reading the Twelve and Twelve, approached Step Seven with this process: Read Step Seven, and find every word Humble or Humility.
Step Seven is the Step where we encounter this term. Humility.
- What does it mean,
- What does it look like,
- And how do I find it for myself ?
For me, as I have stayed sober, Humility has been defined and refined over my years.
One friend tonight said that for him, “Humility was the recognition that he was not as big as he thought he was, but also that he was not as small as he thought he was either.”
Others talk about being “Right Sized” What does “Right Sized” mean ?
My definition of Humility, at this moment, means, “I don’t know.” I also add that, one specific old timer has offered to me that, “If I think I know something, I’d better sit down, and keep my mouth shut.”
Humility asks us to be Vulnerable to that Power Greater than Ourselves.
We constantly work towards turning it over, to that Power, which I choose to call God, every day.
Humility has been the lesson that has been hammered home in my life over the last year.
When the Orlando Tragedy happened, I threw in my spiritual towel and I cursed God. I fell apart in public, and fell to my knees, sobbing, pleading God to help me, because I was bereft, and had no idea how to begin to figure out why I was on my knees sobbing.
It all begins, when we get on our knees.
We might not know the reason why ? But to defer to God, and set one’s self before God in humble supplication, begins on one’s knees.
I learned that in Seminary. Why we prayed, and why we knelt and what it meant as men who came together to learn how to follow God. The men who were leading us, in the end, turned out, not to be the finest example of humility, based on the scandals they caused during their tenures in their priesthoods.
I wanted, so badly, to count myself as a man who would serve God. I made God that promise all those years ago, as a teen-ager, with stars of God in my eyes.
That promise to serve God would take my entire life to figure out.
It has to be the right time, the ground fertile, and I would be able to fulfill that promise, one way or another.
A year ago, I fell to my knees, and was rebuked by a man who was LONG sober, rebuking me that “You think you are so special, that we should treat you differently, You are such a child.”
I could have slapped the shit out of him right then and there. I could have hurt him seriously, in that moment, but my better judgment took over, and I got up, wiped my face and walked away, keeping my mouth shut, and not saying a word or acting on my impulses.
Thank God, Elder Spencer came into my life.
I don’t think I would have made it without him, today.
Sometimes, I have shared, that I need to be Bitch Slapped by God, in order for Him to get my attention.
Oprah has a better definition of this process:
God speaks to us in a whisper. If He whispers and we miss it the first time, He will whisper again. If we miss it the second time, He hits us over the head with a 2 x 4, if we miss Him the third time, finally, He drops a wall on top of us.
I actually lived this out a few years ago.
I’m not sure God was trying to get my attention, with a catastrophic massacre of kids in a nightclub to get me to notice Him. But He had my attention for sure.
Which led to an entire year of trying to find God, after I had cursed Him as I sat where I am sitting right this very moment.
Enter Elder Spencer … There are no coincidences. Only God.
I was there at one time, now I am here.
Now I Know !
The message is loud and clear. My life and sobriety are all about God and His goodness and kindness. I can let go of that old, tired and miserable story.
Sobriety today is about Humility, Faith, Love and the Atonement.
The Atonement makes everything work.
Without it we are nothing, and can be nothing.
Humbly, on our knees, we asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
Holding Nothing Back.
And the week ends, on the best night of the week, with all of my best friends in my life, all in the same room. And one of my very best buds celebrated 5 years sober. Congrats to him.
But more on that later …
“To those who have made progress in A.A., humility amounts to a clear recognition of what and who we really are, followed by a sincere attempt to become what we could be.”
I feel like I’ve been stuck on Step Seven for more than a year. The way life has played out, i guess I am just more conscious of what is really going on, because at one point, God had to drop a wall on me so that I would look up, (from my proverbial smart phone). Not that I am always looking down at it. I don’t. But it does deliver tunes where ever I go.
When the reading was read, I was trying to find words to speak. It took a while, but eventually I had a thought.
There are three things that get in the way of humility for me, they are:
- My will
- And my Expectations
For a very long time, in my life, I did not know what was best for me, as the story goes.
Life was an abject failure until I hit the proverbial brick wall, they call AIDS.
And even after that happened, I still did not know what was best for me. When everybody bailed, and Todd had stepped in, I would begin, in earnest to learn a little humility.
Looking down into a toilet, that has a cup stuck inside, backwards, and there is shit and piss all over the floor, because said toilet has overflowed, and it is your job to stick your hand in there, get the cup out, then clean the bathroom.
I did what I was told to do, even if I did not want to, because those were the rules.
In the end, the lesson about the toilet was this:
If you learn how to clean up shit, when you get really sick, as was supposed to happen, and I ended up in a diaper, like many of my friends at the end of their lives, I would know what to do… Thank God I never got that sick…
Those two years with Todd, was the primer in learning how to be right sized, because I was faced with certain death, and there were things to learn, for that period. I amassed a huge bank of knowledge and lessons that would get me back into life.
But with Todd gone now, and left to my own devices, with no one to guide me further, I failed at life, miserably.
Fast forward a couple more years, and at a meeting I heard the words:
Go away, Leave this meeting and Don’t Come Back …
That was detrimental. And almost killed me.
I detached from the fellowship. I stopped communicating, and took back my will, because I thought very hard about being told to go. That was like ingesting poison.
I took leave of my senses and my friends, and stepped into a vortex of drugs and alcohol.
So much for willfulness.
Where I ended up, in that rehab house when it was all said and done, someone, a friend, sent someone to get me and take me away. Out of humiliation into humility.
Out of humiliation and into humility is a theme tonight.
I did not go quietly, back into recovery. I still had drinking to do, I chose not to go for help, until I hit another brick wall, in a haze of blackouts.
It was then, I realized, that prayer was all I had, when I took my last drink.
I got on my knees and I asked God for help.
The rest is history.
I was not very humble when I walked into that first meeting when I got to Montreal. I was, and I don’t know where it came from, honestly, Cocky.
I had been sober a few months. I moved here. And funny, that, I walked into a meeting one night, and had verbal diarrhea. I spouted off some shit, like a list of expectations for God, now that I had come back …
Funny that, the old timers all laughed at me and told me to keep coming back.
Needless to say, that night, I got knocked off my high horse, the first time.
When ever I take my will back, or I get in my own way, or I expect things from God, myself or another human being, humility goes right out the window.
A friend of mine talked about becoming RIGHT SIZED.
My entire journey in recovery, has been a long lesson in getting RIGHT SIZED.
I chose to move here, because I wanted a better life. I needed a better life, because the one I left in the states, was toxic, terrible, and sick.
I changed everything in Sobriety. And then the geographic. The final swing of the proverbial ax.
Now that I look back on my time here, When I finally let go and let God, life began to get better, incrementally.
All these years later, I know a few things:
- I don’t need many “things”
- I don’t need an ego
- I work every day to be a better me, even on my worst days
- I’ve learned what “just enough means”
- I’ve learned to live inside my means
- I’ve learned the value of money. Having it, Not Having it, then Having it
- I learned what it meant to finally Become a Man
Over the past fifteen years, as life came and went, every challenge was a test of my skills in sobriety, my skills in being a partner/boyfriend/then husband. Learning how to put the needs of others before my own.
They say that we are who we are, from the five people, we spend the most time with.
I am in good company, if I do say so myself.
Expectations, are as bad as Resentments and Anger.
Because, you know, Expectations always lead to Resentment and Anger. Plain and Simple.
A little more than two years ago, I embarked on a relationship with Baby Mama and Lu. I did that because prior to that decision, I knew Mary, in the meeting. I was there the night she walked into a meeting bewildered, because she learned she was pregnant.
After Three Pregnancy Tests…
All the women rallied round her. But that would not last. Promises were made, words were given. But in the end, words meant nothing. All the women failed in the one job that was needed. Someone to be with Mama, on the day Lu was born.
Two weeks prior to Lu’s birth, the women all fucked off. I did not know this was going on behind my back. And it came as a complete surprise to me when she told me she was returning to New Found-land to have the baby.
Lu was born, and the next day, I decided to call Mama. That one phone call, tuned into the relationship we have to this day. A year later, I would be at the airport the day they returned to Montreal to live.
Meanwhile, behind the scenes, I had gathered a number of women back into the fold, to help me welcome Mama and Lu and get them settled, in what I thought would be a forever home.
Those women, gave me their words, and for a while, went through the motions.
WHAT GOOD IS A HUMAN BEING, IF NOT FOR THEIR WORDS AND ACTIONS ???
I take very seriously, someones WORD.
Coming out of the AIDS crisis, when your life depends on the words, services or actions of another human being, if you tell me you are going to do something, then DO IT.
Don’t Fuck Me Over. Which happened countless times over the years…
How many times, in my life, have I relied on people’s words, and be terribly betrayed.
Even to this day, I only ask things of people, when I need things.
This all falls under Expectations.
Over the last year, those women disappeared, one right after the other. And at one point, Mama decided it was time to leave.
I expected my women to stand up and be counted. Because they told me that they were all worthy to be counted. And they weren’t.
In the end, ONE woman went to say goodbye, because then she realized, just what she could milk out of the situation, to appease me.
And this is what I have learned about humility …
Fifteen years ago, I made a decision that would change my life. And the journey began in earnest. There was no time to waste, because I don’t know how long I am going to be here, really …
And I turned my will and my life over to the care of a Power Greater than myself, whom I choose to call God.
Thus goes the story.
When needed God would prune my tree. When needed God would adjust my course. When needed I would get what I needed, when I needed it and not a minute before.
For the past two years, I have been totally committed to Mama and Lu. I was the only man in their lives, besides Grand Pa (and Grand Ma). Baby Daddy pays child support because we went after him legally, but aside from a deposit, he wants nothing to do with Lu.
He was the one who suggested to Mama, when she got pregnant, to get an ABORTION.
My expectations of my women were too high. They did not meet my muster, because none of them had what they really needed or the ability to do the job.
And on Tuesday night, as I sat in the meeting, my heart breaking inside, several of my women were sitting in the meeting, not caring one bit that Mama was just a few hundred yards away from the meeting hall (across the street actually), and only ONE went over to say goodbye.
I became LIVID. I stormed out of the meeting and came home. I called my sponsor and raged and ranted and raved, with many four letter words attached.
I was unhinged.
The take away from this:
My relationship with Mama and Lu was my own. This was a defining moment in my life, and it was all my own. In the end, this one relationship changed my life, even beyond my own marriage.
It was a job, a relationship I took on as my own. It started with me, and it went with me, and Mama and Lu are in New Found-land now, and it goes on with me. This was my duty, not the duty of anyone else, because I believed God’s will was to be a man and to help to the best of my ability. This was all my own and not anyone else’s.
This is the life I wanted. It was a choice I made to be present and accountable.
And God blessed it and made it work, for as long as it did. But like I said above, there was not enough of me to go around, when everybody else fucked off on us.
No matter what happened, I remain accountable. Humbly and Honestly.
I cannot rely on people, who don’t have it in them to be accountable and present. Even if they think they are, actions speak louder than words.
And that’s the way it all played out.
This isn’t about me, I am not the center of the universe, I must decrease so that HE may increase.
This is how my life turned out, because I asked for this life, and I was prepared to do whatever it took to be the best ME in my life.
God helped me live my best life. It all comes down to Humility.
This is, hands down, the best my life has ever been.
Even if Mama and Lu are far away. I did not fail them.
And they know that.