Tuesday, 03 January 2012

Eventually, It All Catches Fire

by Dov (See all authors)

One of the beauties of the 12-Step program is this: Many people (especially men) tend to think in terms of solving problems. So while we are writing our 1st and 4th steps, or whenever we think or write about our problems or what is messed up in us, we want to see it all in the context of a way out, or solution. This is horrible for me. Take the 4th step, for example: We write out all the wackiness in us, quite a list... then tell it over to another person... then become ready to get rid of all the wackiness... then we ask Hashem to fix us up.

What's going on here?

As soon as I become aware of the ugliness in me, I should be disgusted by it, ashamed, and try to solve it - to get rid of it. Particularly if it is an aveiro! To hold on to it may mean that I really don't mind it, and that'd be bad, no?

But that is not the way this program works, it seems. There are separate steps, which must remain separate: First I admit my mishegaas - ad mokon sh'yadi maga'as. I must sit with the truth for a while. Running from it immediately - call it t'shuvah, I don't care - it is still running from it! I need to 'try the truth on like a shirt' for it to be part of me - walk around for a while getting used to the facts about me. After all, it has been the truth about me for years, decades, forever maybe... it's time I faced it instead of fooling myself, as I always have, that if only I run fast enough from my self-centered greed, fear, pride, and it will not catch up with me. That is not what Chazal mean when they say k'boreyach min ha'Eish! Their point is not just 'running' - but running in the right direction. If my entire house is on fire I cannot just run into another room... I need to leave the house. When we learn more or daven harder, make more money, try to have better or more satisfying sex (yup! that was innocent, too), do more chessed, or more kiruv rechokim - instead of getting free of our lusting - we were just running into a different room! We were convincing ourselves that we are not so bad after all. Till the fire spread into that room, too. That was enabling, not healing. Eventually, our jobs, families, religion, they all caught fire, too. Eventually nothing is left - fire is nasty and doesn't care. And that's how some folks finally come to recovery.

The 1st step is our way of saying "enough running and playing games. There is no way out, so I need a power greater than myself to do some kind of trick get me out of this impossible bind I got myself into. And I need Him to do it for free, cuz I ain't got nuthin' to pay. (Well, we do really have 'something'... and that is where the 2nd and third steps come in... but that's cheating, so shashhhhh!)

Choser chasirah mitachas l'Kisei K'vodo. Sounds kind of tricky, no? He can do those kind of things... He's the Owner and no one can ask Him, "mah ta'aseh - who gives You the right to do that!?"

The most precious words I ever 'heard' at the meetings were a silent, "It's gonna be OK." The drunks tell us that it only depends on our honesty, openness, and acceptance.