In all these strivings, so many of them well-intentioned, our crippling handicap has been our lack of humility. We had lacked perspective to see that character-building and spiritual values had to come first, and that material satisfactions were not the purpose of living. Quite characteristically, we had gone all out in confusing the ends with the means. Instead of regarding the satisfaction of our material desires as the means by which we could live and function as human beings, we had taken these satisfactions to be the final end and aim of life.
I have a few thoughts. I never really set out to possess lots of things and be wealthy, but I did want material things most, in my case in the form of children. And I wanted a house in the suburbs and a reliable car. Enough money to go to the doctor and the movies. Again, I was young when I stopped drinking, and all of my adult life has been spent in sobriety and in the program of AA.
Where have I gotten with all this? I do value character-building and spirituality, although all times of rapid growth for me have been the result of new pain. I still feel that my most important job and calling is in caring for my (young adult) children and helping them become independent adults. It’s been most important to me all along to provide them with what they need to be safe and comfortable and to grow. I know this isn’t necessarily bad, but I may have carried it to extremes at times. I don’t know.
My focus will have change soon. At least I hope it will, in that my kids will very shortly not need me the way they have. I keep hearing horror stories of the “failure to launch” variety, but I’ll wait to worry about that one.
I’m having trouble intellectually connecting a lack of humility and the striving toward material possessions. I understand I am to see myself as a person among people, and to serve God and my fellow human beings. Acquiring possessions maybe means I see myself as more important? I’m not sure.
I know for a fact that I don’t share the material wealth I have in a way that values other people. I do still hoard and collect, while others do without. I do however enjoy the work of spirituality here and in other areas and ways. Maybe I can keep going, even after the terrible pain has passed.