My wise and dedicated counselor in rehab insisted that when I returned home I find a Big Book Study and a 12 Step Study and to attend them regularly. I followed her terrific advise and I suggest it to others. My home group is the 5:15 Happy Hour and each Tuesday we read from the Big Book and each Thursday we read a Step or Tradition.
Frequently when studying and discussing a step, we in A.A. focus on a single word or phrase. I always find this a good starting point. Recently at the 5:15, when discussing Step Seven, we did just that. After reading the chapter, we focused on the word, “Humbly.” It can be nice to agree on or establish a shared definition of the important word. How often have we heard an earnest and sincere class valedictorian use the phrase, “according to Webster’s Dictionary . . . ?” Definitions bring clarity.
Searching for synonyms can also increase understanding and promote discussion. Some synonyms for humbly would be; sincerely, honestly, fearlessly, boldly, carefully, precisely, appropriately, openly, completely and without shame. Clearly, any one of these words is an important part of any understanding of the Seventh Step concept of humbly. Such descriptions can help us to focus and stay on task while working on a step.
At our recent meeting, we chose a third way to start our step study. We discussed what humility was not, rather than what it was. We shared that humility was not selfish nor self-seeking. It seems that to achieve some kind of humility, we had to put the overriding preoccupation with our own self-survival aside and allow concern for things and persons outside of ourselves to be of greater importance. Self-seeking leads to such a lack of concern for others that it makes isolation the only possible result. I hope to never return to that lonely place of isolation.
We also learn that selfishness is the polar opposite of service. My sobriety brought a renewed sense of the immeasurable value of service to others. Putting aside our own egos can give us an unexpected clarity of vision and perhaps the discovery of a path that had otherwise gone unnoticed.
It is such a humility, a stepping beyond self, that makes us ready to approach God as required by the step, asking God to remove our shortcomings. There is no room for God’s presence within us when we are already full of ourselves. God needs some space to accomplish God’s will for us. What a relief I felt when I finally looked away from me and looked more actively toward God. God can do for me what I cannot do alone.
Being aware of the connections between service to others, avoidance of selfishness, and trust in God has helped me each day as I try to be actively involved in this program of recovery. I have also remembered to make this idea part of daily prayer and reflection each morning as I ask “How will I give God more room today, and how will I be of greater service to others?”
Perhaps the next time we study this step, our focus will be on “Shortcomings.”
~ 5:15 Happy Hour
615 South 300 East
Community Center Room 134