Advanced Humility

Still, however, God continued with my spiritual growth. He showed me, as F. B.
Meyer suggests, that even while I sang His praises, I was inclined to admire my own
singing. He showed me that, while my face shone with a new light, I was noting that
fact in the mirror. He showed me that, in my most earnest appeals to come to Christ,
I was greatly admiring my own earnestness. He showed me that I was proud even of
my new humility and that I congratulated myself on the knowledge of divine things
which other men might not possess.
Carole and I are reading “I Was a Pagan” by V.C. Kitchen.  This was published in 1934 and it describes well some of the Oxford Group philosophy that helped form AA.  Honestly, there are phrases and concepts that leap off the page at us as being extremely familiar, they are so similar to what we find in the Big Book and the 12 and 12.  This book I do recommend that others read, though I have to say I don’t think I could read it nearly as well alone as I do with someone.  If I didn’t have Carole to read these things with, I would probably look to form some kind of meeting to do it, and I would probably run into problems with “unapproved” literature, but she’s here so I’m not facing that.  But that’s a topic for a different post.
We are almost to the end of the book and yesterday we read the passage quoted above, and it smacked us both in the face for its truth and humor.  The book IS Christian, and AA is NOT Christian, so readers will have to be able to get past the C-word in order to profit from the book.  My personal translation of “come to Christ” would be something like “follow the will of my Higher Power.”  So ” . . . my higher power showed me . . . that, even while I sang the praises of God (my higher power), I was inclined to admire my own singing.  God showed me that, while my face shown in a new light, I was noting that fact in the mirror.  God showed me that, in my most honest appeals to know and follow God’s will for me, I was greatly admiring my own earnestness.  God showed me that I was proud even of my new humility and that I congratulated myself on the knowledge of things which others might not possess.”
I just ran this past Carole and asked her what it meant to her, and she said something like, “It shows me where I still need to grow.”  Something like that.  I read it and know I’m looking right at something vitally important to my continued growth, but I’m left feeling a little bit disheartened that I don’t think I’ll ever advance in this way.  I can’t imagine getting to a place where I don’t note that I’ve made progress, if I have, where I don’t admire my own earnestness.
I work with people who have developmental disabilities, and the needs are endless and profound.  There is a young woman I’m trying to help right now, and while it is my job to help her I’m doing more than my job calls for, because I want to and I can.  I’m regularly getting praise for this and the occasional satisfaction of actually getting something accomplished, plus a measure of hope goes along with the situation that I can really change something by the force of my efforts for this person, and I find the hope reinforcing as well.  That’s all well and good.  What I’m trying to describe and maybe bring to light is the positive emotion it all engenders in me.  I cannot understand, at the base of it, if it’s wrong for me to get pleasure out of the praise, the internal satisfaction, the feeling that I really helped change something for the better.
I’m not suffering in the helping.  It does bring me closer to a bad situation than I want to be, but I’m not made to visit her awful environment. I give up a small amount of time and no amount of money or material goods.  Sure many people in my place wouldn’t do what I’m doing, but I know they probably do other good things.  I’m not better than most of them.  I say most of them because I’ve known some bad people but not many.  I think I need to think about more and come back to it.  There seems to be some kind of root of humility that I don’t understand.
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One thought on “Advanced Humility

  1. Hi Lydia, and thank you for your thought-provoking site.
    Since entering recovery, I have noticed many athletes pause and point to the heavens after accomplishing a feat. At first, I felt embarrassed for them and wondered at their exhibitionism. With some considerable time in recovery under my belt, however, I believe I have figured it out. They are happy and proud of their accomplishment, and they want to give credit to the Author of their success.
    I have found that when I can realize and accept who and what I really am, I can act in a loving way without conscious thought. Since trying to practice this for a while now, I find that as soon as I feel good about something I’ve done, my next thought is, “Thank you, Lord”. The first time this happened, I was on my way to visit a friend in a hospital. As I walked across the parking lot, I became aware, out of the corner of my eye, of a middle-aged woman leaning back against a car and crying. Without conscious thought, I turned and approached her and said, “Do you need a hug?” I am a dyed in the wool Yankee introvert from New England. In fact I had never before done anything so “forward”. The woman said yes and I held her for a while as she told me of her son’s dismal prognosis. We talked a bit. She thanked me, and I renewed my walk to the hospital feeling blessed, another first. As I puzzled out the origin of this new sensation, I thanked God, again without conscious thought, for using me “to do his bidding”.
    I continue to learn more about my self-serving behaviors and the fears that underlie them. I also continue to feel blessed when with or without my conscious request, my God allows me to act on his behalf. We are building a mutual trust. I have found that, for me, the root of humility is my willingness to “drop the rock” of my false self, give up those obnoxious defensive behaviors I learned while trying to hold my fears at bay, accept my naked and true self as my Designer made me, and live the 7th step prayer. To me, the whole basis of recovery from my self-serving personality is my trust that my Higher Power will “Grant me strength…to do [his] bidding.”
    Thanks for helping me clarify this thought.
    Rick H.

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