Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Trouble With Paradise

Lately, I’ve been thinking that my recovery has been going pretty well. My daily gratitude list is long. My inventory of fears is short. Most days, I feel happy and serene. And that’s the problem.

It’s a problem because when things start to go too well, I begin to struggle with humility. Once again I begin to think I’m pretty smart, that I have all the answers. I forget that I didn’t get here under my own power.

I came into this program utterly defeated. Life had humbled me. And that was a blessing. Because only then was I willing to try a new way. Being humbled made me teachable.

I heard someone say once that humility is like a mirage. It shimmers off in the distance. As soon as we think we have reached it, we put out our hand to touch it, and it dissolves before our eyes.

It’s been like that for me.

That same person told a story about a pastor of a church who had been declared the most humble pastor in the country by a selection committee that had combed every corner of the land. The congregation was so excited that it had buttons printed up that said “most humble pastor in the country.”

Sadly, the congregation had to fire the pastor when he showed up the next Sunday wearing the button.

And that’s the problem with humility. As soon as I say I have it, that’s pride and ego speaking. The mirage floats away.

I can only keep working on my intention by reminding myself that I only get a daily reprieve based on my spiritual condition, and by realizing that life will not always feel this way.

I will fall off the beam.

This is not projecting. It’s acceptance. I’ve seen it happen to people with many years in the program. And I’ve watched them climb back up using the tools of the program.

When my sponsor presented me with my chip on my last Al-Anon birthday, she said, “If you talk to Kathy, there’s a serenity about her. Maybe that’s the gift of this age.

“Don’t get used to it.”

I wonder if those times we fall off the beam serve the same purpose as the brokenness so many of us feel when we come into these rooms. It reminds us that we are not in charge. That we do not have all the answers. That we don’t do this under our own power.

Until then, the best way I know to find humility is to get on my knees each morning in prayer. Just the act of prayer is an act of humility, because when I pray to God, I admit that I am not God.

And I pray in the position of humility because thoughts follow actions. If I accept the position of humility often enough, long enough, sincerely enough, the feeling will follow.

One day at a time.

Hubby and I are off to the land later today. I hope you all enjoy your Memorial Day weekend. I’ll drop by when we return.


  1. Like you say, all you can do is work your program one day at a time with no expectations. I hope you enjoy your weekend with your hubby. Hugs.

  2. hi kathy~ you often speak of humility and i appreciate the ways you point out that it is helpful. you're so right. it can help us remember that everything is not up to us, and when things don't work out as they sometimes don't, that it's ok. that it's ok to surrender and relax and accept life as it is.

    but one other thing struck me about your post here. i'm reminded of how when things are going well, i start to worry that they're going "too well" which i think is another sad effect of growing up in a dysfunctional or alcoholic home. we're taught not to get too comfortable. not to enjoy the good times. because we know something bad is about to happen.

    so i just wanted to say, that along with the reminder of humility and the acceptance of the fact that it's ok that things may not always be great. to say also, that i think it's great that you've been doing so well lately. and i think it's ok to enjoy that. and to feel proud of the work you have done. you have worked so hard and it looks like you've started to see results. which doesn't sound arrogant to me. it sounds encouraging. that the program does indeed work. it doesn't mean you're not humble, if you allow yourself to enjoy the moments when you feel at peace.

    hugs to you :)

  3. I am so grateful that I went through the breaking process. I learned more from that process than anything else in my entire the power of prayer, and exactly how powerless I really am which once I accepted that fact, it ended up being such a relief! I still get tripped up of course and have to find my way back...but at least now I have a program and a road map.

    Anyway, all of that is to say great post!! I can relate to so much and appreciate you sharing it so eloquently. Also, thank you for the very kind comments you leave on my blog. I always really appreciate your insights and your words.

  4. When things are going well, I tend to forget my pain and also let my guard down when it comes to expectations. I have to remember that dealing with the cunning, baffling and powerful disease of alcoholism can bring me to my knees at any moment. Great post. Enjoy your weekend.

  5. I really like this post. The pastor story is so funny. God has been working over the last year on this one subject with me. He has me doing things that no one knows about. Do you know how hard it is not to tell anyone? This shows me what a work in progress I am. If I was humble, I would not need to tell, right? So, off we go, one day at a time...... asking Him for the grace to be humble. It goes against my "prideful" nature.

    I agree with you about the temptation to take credit for what God has done.

    Trying to live for His glory alone....some days are better than others.

    I thank God He is so patient and merciful.


  6. "I can only keep working on my intention by reminding myself that I only get a daily reprieve based on my spiritual condition, and by realizing that life will not always feel this way."

    wonderful summation of your whole post.

    Ihave to conintually emind myself that it's okay to feel down some days, that I'm allowed to be human and that it's expected that I will not always remember everything in the program perfectly.

  7. I love how you said that "being humbled made me teachable". The biggest thing I had to overcome when I came into program was my ego. I thought I was smarter than everyone else and it took being broken down into complete surrender for me to listen. Stubborn girl! Now I am careful, like yourself, because I realize that when start feeling good, I become the teacher instead of the student, and that is when I get myself into trouble. Good thing is that I have learned that I don't have to be perfect, and as long as I learn a new lesson each time I hit the wall, well then, I guess I'm ok with that. Thanks for your post.