Facing the Facts
My first encounter with real humility came when I recognized and admitted my addictions. And I grew in humility as I worked to see myself more honestly when doing my personal inventory. The work I did made it possible for me to humbly ‘own’ the facts about myself. When I have the real facts about my choices and my life, and see them realistically with clarity, I am less inclined to rationalize my destructive actions, minimize my difficulties or ignore the pain others have suffered because of my character defects. When I know the facts of my life, I know my own limitations and can accept my own needs and shortcomings.
You and I, as humans, are not all-powerful. We do not control ourselves all of the time, nor do we control other people any of the time. Humility helps us to see these facts, giving us the eyes through which we will see God change who we are, the way we think, the way we handle our emotions and the way we act. As we are changed on the inside, our lives change on the outside.
So, I have learned to think of my improving character development as a responsibility and a gift at the same time. The growth and maturity I experience is a gift God gives to me as I responsibly admit and correct my character defects in the most honest way I can. When I notice my character defects expressed in my thoughts and actions, I choose to change my thinking and my actions as well. My character defects lose some of their power when I do this. Every time I say no to them, the grip they’ve habitually had on me loosens a bit. Nothing is so helpful to healing addictions and changing character defects than to stop doing the addiction and change the way we live our lives day-to-day. Great empowerment comes from God when we live in obedience.
As we work and make progress in our recovery, our priorities and the things that concern us will become re-oriented. We will discover a humility that desires obedience more than blessing and character growth more than comfort — all so that we may help and not hinder the work of God. The greatest blessing for any sex addict is to live free from addiction, fully aligned with the will of a loving God. Even before we asked, we received from God everything we ever needed. He satisfies our heart! God is always one-step ahead of us!
Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.
I Peter 5:6-7 NLT
A great turning point in our lives came when we sought for humility as something we really wanted, rather than as something we must have. It marked the time when we could commence to see the full implication of Step Seven.
Alcoholics Anonymous, 12 Steps and 12 Traditions pg 75
I can’t count how many times — usually motivated by guilt and religiosity — I would ask God for patience, only to get angry with myself if patience didn’t show up when I wanted it to. This obviously proved I wasn’t really interested in being more patient. I think what I really wanted was to feel relief from the tension and other uncomfortable feelings I was experiencing at the time. With what I now know, I find it much more helpful to me to simply admit to God and to someone else the fact that that I struggle with being an impatient person. I tell them, sincerely, I want to change, to think, and to act differently, in a more patient way, as I move forward in life. Seeing myself honestly and sharing what I see is humility for me. This builds a willingness to ask others for direction and a humility with which to follow the direction I receive.
Saying, “Dear God, I want to be more patient” sounds good, but we may miss the subtle demand we are making, holding God responsible for our character defects and problems. But by saying “Dear God, I am an impatient person and I want to change,” we offer up the truth about ourselves and we accept responsibility for being impatient. Humbly asking is asking for change internally, with no demand for changes to the current conditions or external circumstances. Changes in our circumstances are optional; changes in our character are necessary. We become the changes we desire. The ultimate purpose of all prayer is to get hold of God, and to do so, we let go of our pride, inviting God to act according to His purpose in our lives. God will be our strength. He will empower us to do what we are responsible to do.
My Creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad. I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows. Grant me strength, as I go out from here, to do your bidding. Amen
7th Step Prayer, The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous
Character defects cultivate and facilitate our addictions. They reduce us to shame-filled, fearful little children. When we face and admit the failures we most want to hide from others, we discover God has been waiting for us patiently, ready to make a life-transforming connection with us. Moving to become His in this way, we get hold of a life and goodness that was impossible before. We let go of the personality characteristics which have held us back for so long, so nothing will keep us from “knowing the measure and stature of Christ.” Though previously we were ruled by lusts, addictions, and other people, we are becoming the kind of people who admit our character defects and, in doing so, we more fully receive the transforming spirit of Christ. In humility, we become good and powerful men.
God’s kingdom is like a treasure hidden in a field for years and then accidentally found by a trespasser. The finder is ecstatic – what a find! – and proceeds to sell everything he owns to raise money and buy that field.
Matthew 13:44 MSG
Our relationship with God and our spiritual growth must always come first, being more important than career, hobbies, church, even our friends and family. This is because without recovery, nothing else matters very much because nothing else will survive our addictions. Anything good stays good only as we couple our humble heart with God’s love and care. Without Him, nothing is worth having.
So in terms of what every man needs most crucially, all man’s power is powerless because at its roots, of course, the deepest longing of the human soul is the longing for God, and this no man has the power to satisfy.
Frederick Buechner, The Magnificent Defeat pg 33
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