12 Steps of Humility :: RADICAL SELF-EXAMINATION

EACH MONTH IN THE 12 STEPS OF HUMILITY WE ARE CLIMBING SAINT BENEDICT’S LADDER OF HUMILITY.  WITH EACH RUNG WE COME CLOSER TO THE PERFECT LOVE OF GOD.


The ladder is our life on earth, if we humble our heart God will raise it to heaven. ~ St. Benedict 

THE SEVENTH STEP OF HUMILITY:
A monk not only admits with [her] tongue but believes in [her] heart that others are better than she is.



It is good for me that I was humbled so that I might learn your statutes. ~ Psalm 119:71

Again the ancient language of Saint Benedict goes against our grain and everything we are taught today. But without a doubt the Rule is Biblical!


This radical self-examination, seeing ourselves as inferior to others is not to be done in a self-deprecating, undervalued way. 

When we can find joy in seeing the value of others over ourselves we allow ourselves to be teachable.

“Once we stop pretending to be what we know we are not, we are free to except ourselves and except others as well…  In this acceptance of our own meager virtues and our own massive failures, we have a chance to understand the failures of others.  We have the opportunity to become kind.” ~ Joan Chittister*


The seventh step on Benedict’s ladder of humility is asking us to make room for personal growth. 



RESOURCES:
Twelve Steps to Inner Freedom: Humility Revisited by Joan Chittister*
A Guide to Living in the Truth: Saint Benedict’s Teaching on Humility by Michael Casey
Saint Benedict’s Toolbox: The Nuts and Bolts of Everyday Benedictine Living by Jane Tomaine
The Rule of Saint Benedict edited by Timothy Fry

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12 Principles of Recovery :: HONESTY

MY RECOVERY WORK THIS YEAR IS FOCUSED ON THE PRINCIPLES BEHIND THE 12 STEPS; ASKING KEY QUESTIONS THAT WILL HELP TO LEARN THESE CORE VALUES AND PUTTING THEM INTO PRACTICE. 




STEP 6
We were entirely ready to have God remove all these character defects.

PRINCIPLE SIX: Honesty

KEY QUESTION:
What must improve?




“When our addiction was the center of our world, we lived a double (or triple or quadruple) life. We said one thing and did another. We told different people different stories. We told ourselves contradictory stories. And we tried to keep track of it all. But of course we couldn’t. No one could. And eventually our world of lies and contradictions imploded.”  ~Dr. Patrick Carnes**


As a recovering addict, honesty is one of the most difficult yet critical things I must practice. After 10 years of recovery I’m still learning how to be honest.


To walk out Principle Six I have made a deal with myself. If I slip or struggle in my area of weakness I must be willing to admit it. Admitting it is far easier and less painful than the potential fall out that might come if it is discovered.

Our confession must not be used against us. We have to feel safe when sharing the weaknesses we have with others. It can’t be used as ammunition later.

The beauty of honesty is its simplicity. Life is much less complicated when we are able to be honest with ourselves and others.

Keeping a check on my self-talk is key. If I am tempted to, or actually do slip, I must ask:

What story am I creating in my mind around my behavior? 

Am I willing to accept the consequences that may come with the honesty that is needed?



RESOURCES: 
A Gentle Path through the Twelve Principles: Living the Values Behind the Steps by Patrick Carnes **

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The 12 Steps of Humility :: CONTENTMENT

EACH MONTH IN THE 12 STEPS OF HUMILITY WE ARE CLIMBING SAINT BENEDICT’S LADDER OF HUMILITY.  WITH EACH RUNG WE COME CLOSER TO THE PERFECT LOVE OF GOD.


The ladder is our life on earth, if we humble our heart God will raise it to heaven.  ~ St Benedict


THE SIXTH STEP OF HUMILITY: 


A monk is content with the lowest and most menial treatment.

I know what it is to be poor or to have plenty, and I have lived under all kinds of conditions. I know what it means to be full or to be hungry, to have too much or too little. Christ gives me the strength to face anything. ~ Philippians 4:12-13





At first glance in the original language of Saint Benedict from 1500 years ago, this step seems to be putting ourselves down. In a way it is because we should let others go before us.  


It’s important to remember the root word of humility: humus (dirt)!


We aren’t supposed to be the one to look for our promotion. Rather, we are to sit at the back and be asked to move up front. 


We should be willing to accept the circumstances of life as they come; not thinking we are above certain things. 

We are to be content with who we are, with what we have and where we are. Trusting God for the outcome as He can see around the corner of our life.

Humility is peace. It grasps life lightly and takes it as it comes. Humility steps lightly, not intent on having the now be more, but simply aware that the now can be better. Humility enables us to see that the present holds riches for us that we have not seen before because our eyes were focused beyond the present moment. ~ Joan Chittister**


We all go through times of adversity and trials. The key to knowing if our hearts are truly fixed on God is when the external challenges in our life don’t effect our moods.

Oh I wish I could say that I am there! But my practice is getting better. I’m learning to take myself back to my breath and ask: 

What relationship do I have with this moment or this situation? Is it healthy or dysfunctional?

Am I accepting or resisting what I am?  Who I am?  Where I am?  

I must seek The Peace in the moment!



RESOURCES:
Twelve Steps to Inner Freedom: Humility Revisited by Joan Chittister**
A Guide to Living in the Truth: Saint Benedict’s Teaching on Humility by Michael Casey
Saint Benedict’s Toolbox: The Nuts and Bolts of Everyday Benedictine Living by Jane Tomaine
The Rule of Saint Benedict edited by Timothy Fry



The 12 Principles of Recovery :: OPENNESS

MY RECOVERY WORK THIS YEAR IS FOCUSED ON THE PRINCIPLES BEHIND THE 12 STEPS, ASKING KEY QUESTIONS THAT WILL HELP TO LEARN THESE CORE VALUES AND PUTTING THEM INTO PRACTICE. 



STEP FIVE
Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of or wrongs.

PRINCIPLE FIVE: 
Openness

KEY QUESTION
How do I trust?




Addicts have a sordid history with trust issues. We’ve trusted people we shouldn’t have. We didn’t trust people we should have. We violated our own values. We invaded other people’s space. We didn’t do what we said we would. We weren’t faithful to our partner. We kept secrets. We didn’t trust ourselves. We weren’t trustworthy. 


Most of us were deprived of bonding with our parents as young children causing us to feel unworthy. The ability to trust is closely linked to feeling wanted and having a sense of belonging. 

Even after nine years in recovery I still struggle. Maybe not every day or even every week, but when the struggles come they sometimes hit hard. One thing that has made the biggest difference over these years is having a trusted friend with whom I can share my challenges. 

It’s most important to find a friend or mentor with whom we can share our pain. We must seek out a fellowship community or recovery group where we can make trusted friends. There we can begin to bond, open up and heal. 

Learning how to trust others isn’t a quick process. We’ve had bad examples most of our lives so we will need to walk this path slowly. When sharing our story we must not over share but yet not hide things God is trying to bring into the light where the healing can start.

When we honestly ask ourselves which [people] in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness that is a friend who cares. ~ Henri Nouwen **



RESOURCES:

A Gentle Path through the Twelve Principles: Living the Values Behind the Steps by Patrick Carnes **

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12 Steps of Humility :: ACKNOWLEDGING OUR FAULTS

EACH MONTH IN THE 12 STEPS OF HUMILITY WE ARE CLIMBING SAINT BENEDICT’S LADDER OF HUMILITY.  WITH EACH RUNG WE COME CLOSER TO THE PERFECT LOVE OF GOD.

The ladder is our life on earth, if we humble our heart God will raise it to heaven. ~ St Benedict

THE FIFTH STEP OF HUMILITY: a monk should not conceal from her abbess any evil thoughts entering her heart or any wrongs committed in secret, but rather confess them humbly.  

Centuries before the psychology industry built their fortunes on our troubles Benedict of Nursia knew the power of confessing to a spiritual guide or mentor.


One of the most difficult things to do is to admit our faults to another person. But as long as we keep our wrongs hidden they have a hold on us. The recovery community says, “We are only as sick as our secrets.” 

We destroy ourselves by failing to confess the germ of greed, ambition, anger, and lust at the very moment it is growing in our hearts. We give ourselves life by working through our problems with the wisdom figures in our lives who are stronger at that moment than ourselves. ~ Joan Chittister**

Declaring our faults aloud begins the healing process. Once we do share them we can forgive ourselves, begin new behavior and let the past go.

Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.” And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone. ~ Psalm 32:5

Lord, remind me that when I refuse to confess my faults to you I am miserable. But when I stop trying to hide them, you are quick to forgive and all my guilt is gone! AMEN

RESOURCES:
The Rule of Saint Benedict Edited by Timothy Fry O.S.B
Twelve Steps to Inner Freedom: Humility Revisited by Joan D. Chittister**
The Twelve Steps of Humility and Pride by Bernard of Clairvaux
Living in the Truth: Saint Benedict’s Teaching on Humility by Michael Casey
St. Benedict’s Toolbox by Jane Tomaine
15 Days of Prayer with Saint Benedict by Andre Gozier, O.S.B.
Finding Sanctuary: Monastic Steps for Everyday Life by Abbot Christopher Jamison

Image credit: icetray / 123RF Stock Photo

The 12 Principles of Recovery :: RESPONSIBILITY

MY RECOVERY WORK THIS YEAR IS FOCUSED ON THE PRINCIPLES BEHIND THE 12 STEPS; ASKING KEY QUESTIONS THAT WILL HELP TO LEARN THESE CORE VALUES AND PUTTING THEM INTO PRACTICE. 




STEP 4: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.


PRINCIPLE FOUR: Responsibility


KEY QUESTION: Who Am I?


When we are living in addiction our life is ruled by emotions. We are afraid of our true feelings, numbing them with our drug/behavior of choice to the point of delusion.

Our perception of reality is warped. We believe we are not responsible for our actions no matter what they are. Until we can wake up to this sickness there will be no recovery.

There can be no recovery without responsibility. ~ Patrick Carnes

Taking our moral inventory is a painful process. But only by reflecting on our life can we develop the mindfulness needed to go forward as a productive, healthy person.


***   RESPONSE — ABILITY   ***


What is my response to life today?

This moment? 

Am I using my abilities in a positive way?

Making conscious choices based on values rather than emotional responses to circumstances is living with RESPONSIBILITY!

If you can’t see the screen below CLICK HERE for a short video clip on Responsibility.

RESOURCES:

A Gentle Path through the Twelve Principles: Living the Values Behind the Steps by Patrick Carnes **


Image credit: klavapuk / 123RF Stock Photo

The 12 Principles of Recovery :: SPIRITUALITY ~ Love God and Others


MY RECOVERY WORK THIS YEAR IS FOCUSED ON THE PRINCIPLES BEHIND THE 12 STEPS, ASKING KEY QUESTIONS THAT WILL HELP TO LEARN THESE CORE VALUES AND PUT THEM INTO PRACTICE. 

STEP 3: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

PRINCIPLE 3: Spirituality

KEY QUESTION: Am I love-able to God and others?


In the resource I am using for this study (listed below) Dr. Patrick Carnes discusses the common elements most spiritual traditions include. Whether to ourself or others each of these areas require acts of love.

  • Sharing Pain: our pain connects us to the pain of others.
  • Serving others: go outside normal comfort zone and help another person.
  • Joining forces: in times of weakness reach out for help.
  • Making a leap: Even through difficulties keep going forward.


The answer to our key question shows up in how we are processing these steps walking out love. 


Am I afraid to share my pain with others?
 

Am I stepping out of my comfortable circle of friends and helping someone new? 

Am I too proud to ask for help when I’m feeling weak? 

Am I making progress each day, even if it is a baby step?


Over the last year God brought me a new girl friend. Someone with whom I’ve been able to process many of these areas with. I’m good at serving but not the best at reaching out for help when struggling. This is the area I need to work on most.  

It always comes back to loving myself as God does!



RESOURCES:
A Gentle Path through the Twelve Principles: Living the Values Behind the Steps by Patrick Carnes **

The 12 Principles of Recovery :: AWARENESS

My recovery work this year is focused on The Principles behind the 12 Steps, asking key questions that will help to learn these core values and put them into practice. 



STEP 2: 

Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.


PRINCIPLE TWO: 

Awareness


KEY QUESTION

How do I know what is real?





As an addict I lived the bulk of my life unaware of those around me, clueless to how my behavior affected others, actually not seeing much of the world at all. But after I turned back to God I had an amazing experience of awareness in, of all places, Walmart! 


On a hot summer day I was shopping for groceries when suddenly it was as if scales fell off my eyes and I could see people all around me. Like the day I got my first pair of glasses and I saw the trees weren’t just green blobs, they actually had individual leaves. 

Where did all these people come from? 

Had there always been so many people in the world that I never saw?

Not only could I suddenly see the people, God gave me the ability to look into their heart and spirit, almost like an x-ray, I was seeing their emotional pain. It was overwhelmingly heartbreaking. I wandered through Walmart thinking…

What can I do? I’ve got to help them. But who am I to help them? I’m nobody.

This incredible awareness stayed heavy on me for months. It was almost too much to endure. It was as if God gave me a taste of what He sees every minute of every day. This experience has repeated only a few times since that day in Covington, LA. But it changed my life forever.

This is what Principle Two wants for us. To be aware, not only of ourselves and the world, but to be aware of how our behavior touches others, to be sensitive to the needs of those around us.

To answer this month’s key question, How can I know what is real?  We must look to God. I believe this answer comes only by divine revelation, after much seeking, prayer and meditation. God promises to make Himself real to us if we seek Him. And with that our awareness begins.

Wake up, sleeper, rise from death and Christ will shine on you. ~ Ephesians 5:14

If you can’t see the screen below CLICK HERE for a great song called Wake Me Up.




RESOURCES:
A Gentle Path through the Twelve Principles: Living the Values Behind the Steps by Patrick Carnes

Image credit: carpathianprince / 123RF Stock Photo

The 12 Steps of Humility

ACCEPTING GOD'S WILL

EACH MONTH IN THE 12 STEPS OF HUMILITY WE ARE CLIMBING SAINT BENEDICT’S LADDER OF HUMILITY. WITH EACH RUNG WE COME CLOSER TO THE PERFECT LOVE OF GOD.

The ladder is our life on earth, if we humble our hearts God will raise it to heaven. ~ St Benedict

 










Step 2 of Humility: A person shall love not their own will or take pleasure in the satisfaction of their desires; rather they shall imitate by their actions the saying of the Lord: “I have come not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me.”

Certainly one of the toughest lessons we learn in life is that we don’t always get things our way. As children we are selfish with our toys, with our activities, our time, with our need for attention and even our friendships.

It doesn’t seem to get any better as adults. We want to control every part of our world.

If we can learn to let go and allow God to have control, life becomes so much easier.

But letting go is the hardest part.

I have found the more I practice letting go, accepting the current circumstances, the easier it is the next time.  Now don’t get me wrong. I still struggle with this. But it is getting easier. I just have to remember that what is out of my control is in God’s control. And what better place for control to be?

RESOURCES:
Twelve Steps to Inner Freedom: Humility Revisited by Joan Chittister
The Rule of Saint Benedict edited by Timothy Fry
The Way of Humility by Andre’ Louf

The 12 Principles of Recovery :: ACCEPTANCE

My recovery work this year is focused on The Principles behind the 12 Steps and asking key questions that will help to learn these core values and put them into practice. 




STEP ONE: We admitted we were powerless over our dependencies, that our life has become unmanageable. 

PRINCIPLE ONE: Acceptance  

KEY QUESTION: What are my limits?


It’s no big surprise that acceptance of our limits should come first in this list! Acceptance is foundational to the recovery process. It is at the core of the 12 Steps and their Principles. 

One of the biggest challenges for any recovering addict is seeing the need for and accepting limitations. Only after recognizing the mess we have made of our lives are we able to accept the limitations needed to prevent future problems.


Most of our limitations are a flimsy fence that’s barely able to stand on its on let alone withstand the wind of temptation. Without a strong fence holding our limits in place we set ourselves up for possible failure. 


I must ask myself now:  Where is my fence weak today? How can I repair the weak places?


CLICK HERE for a song that helps keeps me strong!

**RESOURCES:
A Gentle Path through the Twelve Principles: Living the Values Behind the Steps by Patrick Carnes

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