Thursday, July 22, 2010

“Nobodies Perfect?!?”

Step 7: “Humbly asked God to remove all our shortcomings”

“No-No… nobody’s perfect but maybe I come awfully close”, muses Gene Simmons on the new KISS album entitled Sonic Boom. It seems that Mr. Simmons could learn a thing or two from the 12 Steps of addiction recovery. According to the 12 Steps, no one is perfect. And that is a good thing. Allow me to explain.

Shortcoming, faults, defects, mistakes, and failures contribute in a huge way to why people use alcohol and drugs. Naturally, most people tend to try and escape when things are going poorly. However the way they try to escape is not always healthy. For example, people exercise, go to the movies, read a book, or take a nap when things are overwhelming. Others find comfort in the arms of a love one or through the words of a close friend. These are not bad coping skills. However, a large section of the population is unable to make wise decisions in dealing with problems and they choose alcohol and/or drugs to try and solve them.

This is where shortcomings come into the picture. Pride, selfishness, impatience, ego, judgment of others, resentment, greed, and immaturity cause so many problems for the addict. Paradoxically, it is these very shortcomings that help the addict operate in the world. And when presented with the work of Step 7, many of them balk!

If we look at the step, it is no light matter. It commands a specific course of action. It involves surrender. It involves giving over control to a higher power to change them from the inside out. Step 7 is the ultimate step toward “dying to self” and living for God and others.

The first part of this step involves the quality of humility. Humility is the ability to understand our right place in the world. For example, I have been playing bass guitar for 22 years and feel pretty confident at my skill level. However, it is quite clear to me that I am not or will I ever be Gene Simmons of KISS and play stadiums with 100,000 people. Through humility, I understand and know my right place in the world, namely, a good bass player who is not a rock star.

But how does one become humble? I share with our patients at TCI that there are 5 attitudes that are essential to staying clean. They are:

1). I cannot stay clean alone (i.e. accountability and community are essential),

2). I am not the center of the universe (duh! You’d be surprised how many people think that is their title and geographic location),

3). I do not have all the knowledge in the world (lack of knowledge means you still have to learn and be a student),

4). I do not have all the power in the world (lack of power means I still need help),

5.) I am broken and I need help (lack of wholeness causes fissures in my person and I need others to patch me back up)

If an addict will adopt these attitudes, then I believe they will have come a long way in paving the road to humility. Once someone becomes humble, they then become teachable. Once they are teachable, they can learn to stay clean.

The second part of this step is a verb: ask. You cannot receive what you do not ask for. It is that simple. The beauty or curse, as the case may be, of Step 7 is it requires the addict to change attitudinally by adopting an attitude of humility and by taking a purposeful course of action in asking their higher power to remove all their shortcomings.

Step 7 is not for the faint of heart. It requires a lot but it gives a lot in return. To the addict who is willing, much will be received by taking this step to include a new way of speaking, thinking, and acting in the world they formerly navigated using the broken compass of shortcomings.

As for Mr. Simmons, while I respect his contribution to American popular music, things are not always what they seem, for even the mighty Demon hides his shortcomings…namely lack of hair!

Chris Newcomb - Aftercare Coordinator

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