Courtesy: Flicker Julian Bialowas (Archives)
We are sitting at a frosty (-18c/-27c w.c.) with a low tonight going down into the (-30’s). Where Ontario is, at this hour, under a snow storm warning, there is a blowing snow advisory up for us, but we are not expecting snow until tomorrow. With 10cm falling during the day.
Thank Goodness I don’t have to go out tomorrow…
It was a quiet weekend. This evening I left a few minutes early, because I had a stop to make on the way. It usually takes me half an hour to make my transit. However today, I must have made good time, I had not looked at my clock when I arrived at the church, but cranked it out as usual. When I finished, one of my friends had arrived and I noticed that it was only 4:40 on the clock.
Time must have sped up or I left earlier than I had thought. Any who, it’s all good.
A few folks showed up early to sit and read, having the room open much earlier, allows for folks to come in a be able to sit and read for an hour, prior to the meeting.
Our Matron was away, and I was elected chair by a friend, so I chaired.
We read from the Twelve and Twelve and Step 7 …
Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings!
The buzz word for Step seven is Humility. Where does it come from, and how do we get it?
“Humility, as a word and as an ideal, has a very bad time of it in our world. Not only is the idea misunderstood; the word itself is often intensely disliked. Many people haven’t even a nodding acquaintance with humility as a way of life. Much of the every day talk we hear, and a great deal of what we read, highlights man’s pride in his own achievements.”
“… We saw we needn’t always be bludgeoned and beaten into humility. It could come quite as much from our voluntary reaching for it as it could from unremitting suffering. A great turning point in our lives came when we sought for humility as something we really wanted, rather than something we must have. It marked the time when we could commence to see the full implication of Step Seven: “Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.”
One of my terrible shortcomings is the fact that over my life, my disregard for God, my living in “all about me,” and taking life for granted, usually landed me in the column of being bludgeoned into humility. This is one very long list of things that happened.
There was a time, that alcohol was ruling my life, when did it not rule my life, you might ask ???
In my twenties, I really could not give a shit about God or what was right, as long as it went my way. The drink, then the social interaction that came from it, fed my emotional, and sexual appetite. I really did not have a handle on the issues of the time (Read: AIDS), I was more concerned with getting a drink, and what would come with it.
When you take life for granted, a myriad of things can happen.
I was screwing myself into a tight hole. Literally !!! I made mistakes. I was not safe. In the heat of the moment, under the control of alcohol and with the drugs that usually came with it, meant that we were not thinking about circumstances, and shit happened.
I can’t be sure of the who, what or why of it. (what’s done is done)
I talk about all that God mumbo jumbo. How, for a time I was a good Catholic boy in seminary. Had they asked me to stay, instead of telling me to go, probably my life would have been different. But I took license with freedom, and took advantage of it as well.
My twenties was a futile effort in growing up. And I know that now. And I paid dearly for that error.
Loosing things, like cars, apartments, personal items happened. But I would just pick up and start over where, that would take place. Then I lost a loved one, to suicide. That loss was horrible. I drank my way past it, right into a therapy group for thirty two weeks.
But God really didn’t have my attention yet. It was still all about me. But Todd was there.
I was still unwilling to bow or get on my knees …
Lessons about humility began in earnest.
I was dating someone at the time, when I began to sero-convert. I got very sick. They gave us these little wallet cards that had this information on it … If you are having these symptoms, you might have AIDS.
Working at the bar brought me into direct contact with AIDS, and people with AIDS, and Todd made it perfectly clear, what my job was, To serve others, and not myself.
I did get sick. I did get AIDS. Doctors told me I was going to die.
I called Todd back from his vacation. He met me at the bar, and I told him that I was going to die.
He wept …
I was ready to bow. The end was coming, and I had nothing to loose any more.
Over the next two years, working at the bar, I had several opportunities to get humble.
I remember each one of them, like it was yesterday.
Every time I returned to “All about Me,” Todd would throw a lesson at me, to humble me.
Working in a bar was dirty work. Men are pigs, and they don’t think for a moment about others, and that bothered me. They would put cups in the toilet backwards and let shit and piss flow all over the floor, and it was my job to clean it up. However hard I protested, Todd ordered that I do the job and not complain.
I had to get on my knees.
Then he would add the clincher …
He would say that “If you can clean up others shit, one day you will be able to do it for yourself.”
I’ve said before that in Todd, God became incarnate. He was the man who saved my life, however hard I protested, at times, He had my best interests in mind. He took it upon himself to see that I lived, and did not die. Every night I came to work, I followed the rule.
“When you come to work, you leave your life outside the door. You come in and do your work, without question. And leave the rest to me.”
I turned my will and my life over to the care of God (read: Todd) every day.
I learned a great many things, that I have collected over in the PAGES.
I learned to serve others, and not worry about me or my needs. I learned valuable lessons like approval, ego, pride and humility. While people were drinking, drugging, and partying, and at the same time, they were dying all around me, Todd and I stayed one step above the water.
Being a servant, does not give you much time to be arrogant or prideful. Todd would have none of that. He kept me on a very short leash. One look and I would kneel.
Today, I am alive. Todd succeeded in keeping me alive. I owe my life to him. And I say that with all the humility of my being. If you want the whole story you can read it in pages.
I began my nights on my knees. And ended them on my knees.
There was no time to waste. When everybody fled, Todd stood firm. In the beginning, I had to grow up and I had to do what ever I was told to do, without question, and yes I did grow up. I learned a great deal from this experience.
When Todd moved away, I ended up alone. I had tools. I had my lessons.
But at the same time, without that hand in my life, I did not know what to do. But I survived.
Problems with people, attitudes and assholes, took me for a ride. I spoke about the space that grows between people, and that slip that is not far behind … That slip came.
Upon my return, I was not ready to bow …
When I knew the end was coming, I knew the end was coming, I got on my knees.
You see, I survived. I lived. I took that for granted. Which kept my slip going for a while longer.
I prayed for things from God. And One, Two, Three, prayers came to pass.
I had One, admitted I was powerless, Two, came to believe, and Three, made that decision.
I decided to grow up, and ended my run here. That is when I learned more about humility.
I got connected, found a home group, and I did service. All because that is what they told me to do.
You can’t keep it, unless you give it away.
I met my now husband, and I learned how to give to my partner, boyfriend, now husband.
I became a man, when I learned how to put the needs of another before my own.
Now that I think about that phrase, I learned this lesson with Todd. However I did not see it.
Even today, I see shades of self centeredness. It returns in my memories.
When life gets too hard to stand, kneel …
I am reminded daily, to be humble. I practice, daily, getting down on my knees to pray.
I take for granted that I lived, more often, than I like to admit. And I usually don’t think about being grateful for being alive, except of course, every time I stand at my medicine cabinet and take my pills.
I rely on doctors, my medication and God for life. I also rely on God to help me stay sober.
I grew up. I’ve learned my lessons about being beaten into humility.
There is so many things to be grateful for. If I think of all of them at the same time, I would weep.
More to come, stay tuned …