Thursday, January 19, 2012


There is a quote from a well-used book, a quote which I hear frequently, that comes back to me again and again.  It says in full, 

There is a solution.  Almost none of us liked the self-searching, the leveling of our pride, the confession of shortcomings which the process requires for its successful consummation.  But we saw that it really worked in others, and we had come to believe in the hopelessness and futility of life as we had been living it.  When therefore we were approached by those in whom the problem had been solved, there was nothing left for us but to pick up the simple kit of spiritual tools laid at our feet.  We have found much of heaven and we have been rocketed into a fourth dimension of existence of which we had not dreamed.   

The great fact is just this, and nothing less: That we have had deep and effective spiritual experiences which have revolutionized our whole attitude toward life, toward our fellows and toward God's universe.  The central fact of our lives today is that our Creator has entered into our hearts and lives in a way which is indeed miraculous.  He has commenced to accomplish those things for us which we could never do by ourselves.  - the Big Book of AA, 4th Ed., page 25

Google Images showed me this photo at:
There are some pretty basic tools in this toolkit.  I just want to touch on a few that might seem obvious, but which are so very needed in order to remove those barriers to relationship with God, with the self, and with others.  

It's pretty evident isn't it? We think of ourselves as honest people.  But are we? Are we hiding from things we don't want to face about ourselves, about our fears, our failures?  Can we take an honest and fearless inventory of our lives, not just that overall blanket-type statement that covers everything from soup to nuts ... but specifics?  Can we delve into the hurts of our pasts (whether childhood or even recent past) and face the messages we find there or take responsibility for the mistakes we have made?  

This goes right along with honesty but adds another component.  Sure, we might be able to be honest with ourselves, for example, but can we ADMIT what we find to someone else we trust? Can we open our innermost heart to scrutiny by God, or by ourselves? When it comes to others who are trustworthy, can we trust them enough to share some of our struggles? This may leave us vulnerable ... are we prepared to risk it?

This is the next step along that path.  Are we willing to let God make those inner changes in us as we continue to open ourselves to Him and be honest with Him?  Are we willing to use the rest of those God-given tools in our toolkit to dig into our motives and our I-can't-help-it-that's-just-me excuses?  Are we willing to get outside our comfort zones and let God lead us into areas we never thought we'd ever get into?

The messages we tell ourselves can make or break us.  And if the messages we've heard so often that we believe them are false, where do you think we can find messages to counter them?  We can tell ourselves the truth, that's what! We can do what psychologists call "self-talk"! 

Yes, I can hear you now.  Enough of that psychological clap-trap.  But hold on a minute ... I can tell you one person who talked to himself and encouraged himself all the time, someone that God called a man after His own heart: King David!  "Why are you cast down, my soul? why are you disquieted? hope in God!"  "I commune with myself on my own bed."  "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name.... forget not all His benefits..."  The list is endless.  

Telling ourselves the truth about ourselves - instead of buying into the self-destructive lie that we are worthless - can counter decades of systematic programming to condition us to loathe ourselves.  This was never God's intention.  He delights in us, spent all He had to give us a way to come to Him freely without all the religious trappings in the way.  It might feel awkward and we might not believe it when we first tell ourselves that we are worth something... but if we remember that it took years upon years for the opposite message to burn its way into our psyches, then it will take just as intense a deprogramming to un-learn and (as a friend recently put it) un-believe those lies.  I only just started doing it a little less than 3  years ago.  And today, far from being egotistical, I can better receive goodness from God and from others ... and I have more capacity to give it.  

There are more tools in the toolkit of course.  But those are the major ones.

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