Imperfection of Sprituality

The one who is humble brings God’s presence close to earth to dwell among us. Yitro

Moses first instructs Betzalel to build the vessels of the Tabernacle, and then to build the Tabernacle itself. Betzalel, a much younger man, replies that it more makes sense to build the structure first. He continues in his contradiction of Moses, “Who makes furniture before they have a house in which to put it?”

In the ancient world, to disagree on a public matter with someone such as Moses was not done. The repercussions normally would be tragic. However, Moses admitted he had made a mistake and publicly bowed to Betzalel’s opinion.

It takes tremendous strength of character to be able to admit, especially in so public a forum, that you made a mistake. All too often, the burning desire of our egos to be the one who is right overtakes our desire for truth. It’s so easy to defend an opinion, only because it is ours, long beyond the time we know it to be incorrect.

It’s sad that one of the greatest phrases in the English language, “I was wrong,” is so rarely used. In admitting our imperfection; we gain a sense of personal integrity a hugely empowering and uplifting gratefulness. And far from undermining our credibility in the eyes of others, it actually helps establish it.

“I was wrong” is always a fantastic phrase to use (and nowhere more so, by the way, than in a marriage). In a certain way, it’s better for the relationship to be wrong than to be right. When you are right, you have proven a point and made someone else feel less than. When, however, you accept that you are wrong, you have not only learned something new, but you also experience the uplifting trait of humility.

If we are arrogant, there is nor room for our Higher Power, or for spiritual renewal. If we are humble and accept the fact that we are not in control, we can build a tabernacle that is a place to have the Sunlight of The Spirit in our midst.

Life is far too short for us to try to prove that we are perfect. If we learn to be happy recognizing our imperfections, it will save us a great deal of energy battling our imperfections simply to defend our pride.

 If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?  Hillel – Pirke Avot 1:14

Fear I Give You Back

Let these words from Native American poet, Joy Harjo sink deeply in. She writes from her personal experience of fear. Change the details to match your experience, but keep the essence of her message.

I release you, my beautiful and terrible fear.

I release you.
You were my beloved and hated twin, but now, I don’t know you as myself.
I release you with all the pain I would know at the death of my daughters.

You are not my blood anymore.

I give you back to the white soldiers who burned down my home, beheaded my children, raped and sodomized my brothers and sisters.
I give you back to those who stole the food from our plates when we were starving.

I release you, fear, because you hold these scenes in front of me and I was born with eyes that can never close.
I release you, fear, so you can no longer keep me naked and frozen in the winter, or smothered under blankets in the summer.

I release you I release you I release you I release you

I am not afraid to be angry.
I am not afraid to rejoice.
I am not afraid to be black
I am not afraid to be white.
I am not afraid to be hungry.
I am not afraid to be full.
I am not afraid to be hated.
I am not afraid to be loved, to be loved, to be loved, and fear.

Oh, you have choked me, but I gave you the leash.
You have gutted me but I gave you the knife.
You have devoured me, but I laid myself across the fire.
I take myself back, fear.
You are not my shadow any longer.
I won’t hold you in my hands.

You can’t live in my eyes, my ears, my voice my belly, or in my heart my heart my heart my heart.

But come here fear. I am alive and you are so afraid of dying.

Acceptance of Shortcomings

“THE SPIRITUALITY OF IMPERFECTION”
by Ernest Kurtz

The acceptance of shortcomings is a strength. This message resounds, as always, in all traditions, loud and clear: Mistakes are part of being human. The real meaning of “sin” has to do not with committing evil deeds, not with willfully breaking laws, not even with the act of “falling short.” The term sin classically signifies not an action but the state of falling short, a situation of alienation from reality. One brilliance of Alcoholics Anonymous is that it never uses the term sin, a word hopelessly overloaded with convoluted meanings, but talks instead of the “defects of character” and the “shortcomings” of those who are “alcoholics.” For sin has become a word of religion, of absolutes; shortcomings are words of humanity, a concept in tune with the understanding that we are imperfect.
And if we do “fall short”? That very awareness of “falling short” implies two related realities: First, we are trying, and second, we need to try again. There is no failure here, for spirituality, as the ancients reminded over and over again, involves a continual falling down and getting back up again. That is why humility—the knowledge of our own imperfections—is so important, and that is why spirituality goes on and on and on, a never-ending adventure of coming to know ourselves, seeing ourselves clearly, learning to be at home with ourselves. The great need is for balance—when we are down, we need to get up; and when we are up, we need to remember that we have been, and certainly will be again, “down”.

It was a large meeting, well over two hundred people. At one end of the room stood the canister of regular coffee; at the other end, the pot of decaf. Conversation around the first coffeepot centered on a man who was clearly depressed and afraid.
“I just feel like I’m at the end of my rope,” he admitted. “It’s one damned thing after another. Nothing seems to be going right. This week my dog died, my kids came down with strep throat, I can’t keep my mind on my work, my wife and I are fighting constantly. I just don’t know how I’m going to make it.”
“Well, son,” an old-timer said gently, “at least you didn’t take a drink today.”
The conversation at the other end of the room centered on a man who exuded good cheer. “I just feel so wonderful,” he was saying. “What a week this has been! I got a promotion at work; my daughter is graduating from college with honors; my wife and I are like newly married lovers. And just yesterday I had the best golf game of my life!”
“It all sounds great,” another old-timer said gently. “But remember … you’re an alcoholic. Just one drink will destroy it all.

The point of Humility is to find a balance, that place in the middle of life’s teeter-totter that allows one foot to reside on the side of “god/saint/angel” and the other on the side of “worm/sinner/beast.” From this perspective, A.A.’s most significant contribution to the tradition of a spirituality of imperfection can be summed up in two words: sober alcoholic.

Self Esteem & Honesty

We have struggles being honest with self and others. The concept of false self-image, low self-esteem and lying, is prominent in people with substance use disorders
The following story about myself is a prime example:
Last week I was rejected for a position I coveted. I felt it had the potential to help people recover from addiction and stop the cycle of relapse. It fit perfectly with what I am seeking and my qualifications matched. The interviews went well, I thought. But then I was told I wasn’t the right fit, but possible when they expanded and were hiring again I might fit.
It made me feel disappointed.
Soon after anger and fear were creeping in, but never did I feel like drinking or using. I kept sharing with others in recovery and my sponsor. Being told that it would work out for the best, it probably was not meant to be or maybe I should change my focus.
This advice only made me more determined to find the truth about this obvious mistake. It was making me less accepting and unable to find my part until I started praying to my HP for understanding and acceptance. Within 15 minutes a friend of mine with inside knowledge of what had happened casually mentioned to me he heard what happened and was disappointed for me. Suddenly this little bit of compassion transformed me into an accepting person with many good things to say about everyone involved and how fortunate I felt to know of the program and have met such exceptional people.
I am relieved. I became aware of my need for humility and ability to trust my HP to help me grow, to be resilient and understand it all happens for my good.
My self-esteem is fragile and rejection had fractured it.
I was letting my thinking interfere with my heart, losing touch with it and thinking I was in control with my mind.
Thank you, Sunlight of the Spirit, for energizing my soul, helping me trust and have faith.

The Present

Recovery requires getting honest with yourself, your sponsor and your Higher Power. It is the cornerstone of the trilogy: willingness, honesty and openness.

There are reasons honesty, openness and willingness are often cited, as three must dos to be in recovery.

All three require letting go of the past, not projecting into the future and staying in the moment.

Openness is sharing about yourself, what you are feeling and how it is affecting your decision-making, relationships and overall mental health, probably physical health as well. We come to recovery out of desperation without any idea of how to do it, not even sure what we are doing here. We don’ know how to listen because we are so busy thinking. Openness is learning to listen and getting comfortable with what is uncomfortable, sharing our feelings.

Willingness is the action of wanting to do this, making a commitment. Often we are reluctant because just the thought of doing the uncomfortable makes us ambivalent. Once we realized that our willingness didn’t mean we had to jump in with both feet, it just meant that we are trying a new “design for living” and following the directions of others who have been down this path before us.

Honesty presents our most difficult hurdle, because we have not been honest about much. It has been said, ” for most addicts if our lips are moving we’re lying.” Unfortunately, it is mostly a true assessment. It has to start with our self and our relationship with our Higher Power and doing the first four steps gets us there. It is the total turning our life and will over to our Higher Power that from the beginning and continually keeps us being as completely honest as we can be.

There isn’t a principle of recovery that is one hundred percent at any time in our life, because just being human and living a spiritual life accepts that we will be imperfect.

Being in the present allows us to avoid the resentments of anger resulting from past actions, fear over what might take place and the guilt of what we may be doing or thinking now. We just have to “be”.