No! You’re doing it all wrong!!
I have a really bad habit of having all the answers and knowing the best way to do things. Invariably, I can give you the best possible route to get somewhere and even tell you which lane you should be in as you drive. If you would but listen to me, I could give you all the right answers to your math homework or the actions to take to get your wife to stop being mad at you. If I were president things would be MUCH different. You see, I am immensely intelligent and have amassed an impressive variety of life experiences which together qualify me as a veritable expert in nearly every field. (I am still working on my degree in rocket surgery, so I do concede there is one area where I may not have ALL the right answers.)
Though I cannot help the fact that I have been endowed with this preternatural “right-ness,” others sometimes take offense that they so often find themselves on the receiving end of a well-deserved “I told you so.” Therefore, so as to not step on too many toes, I have learned I must gracefully allow people to be wrong. The ease with which I am able to do this varies depending upon the person and the circumstance (as well as the state of my spiritual connection at that time). The greater the pain associated with failure, the harder it is for me to allow others to follow wrong-headed “solutions.”
If recovery does absolutely nothing else for me, it is certainly good practice in letting others fail. And, boy oh boy, do I get lots of opportunities to keep my damned mouth shut! And that’s just in regards to those individuals I meet in the rooms of AA – people that, for the most part, are walking the same path I am and ultimately should end up in generally the same place as me, even if it takes longer than I think it should.
Over the past couple of months, though, I have been preparing for an ACTS retreat which will take place at the end of the month. This is a retreat sponsored by a Catholic church and specified for “Women in Recovery.” I still don’t know how I ended up at my first ACTS retreat, let alone serving on team for a second. I’m so not Catholic that there is at least one thing we will do on this thing that I vehemently disagree with. Plus, “recovery” in this sense is so vaguely defined that even many of our team members have never read the 12 steps, let alone taken them. I am of the mind that you can do whatever you want to support your recovery, but those steps are CRUCIAL and if they don’t make up the backbone of your program, then you really don’t have one. Plus, in order to have a successful recovery group, one has to allow everyone to define God on their own and create a relationship with Him on their own terms.
Why then am I doing this again? Because I did have an amazing experience at my first retreat and I want to give to our retreatants what our team members gave me last year. I am happy to have God use me to express His love to these women who have been hurt by addiction. In order to do that, though, I have to deflate my ego. I have to put aside everything I know about how recovery HAS to be and let God show these women what their recovery looks like.
This is not to say that I won’t share with them what worked for me. There is a reason I was chosen to do this thing, after all. I have a remarkable story and have recovered from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body. No, I have my part to play in this. However, mine is just a small part of the picture we are trying to paint for these women. It is important for me to remember that a painting is much more full and vibrant with many colors than a canvas colored in only one hue. Even though I may want to color the whole thing blue, I must humbly concede that others may have a piece or two of the puzzle, so I must only do my part. Today, I will be grateful that God has chosen to use me to serve His greater Good and not so full of myself to think that I’m the only one in His employ.