“The god of intellect displaced the God of our fathers. . . . We saw that we had to reconsider or die. We found many . . . who once thought as we did. They helped us to get down to our right size. By their example they showed us that humility and intellect could be compatible, provided we placed humility first. When we began to do that, we received the gift of faith, a faith which works. This faith is for you, too.” 12/12 p 29
I’ve always considered myself to be a pretty smart person. As I grew older I thought I had a seasoned perspective on many issues. I believed I could hold my life as a husband, father and important leader in one hand and my addiction quietly in another. What I didn’t bargain for was that the addict continued to grow and my intellect had to abandon all humility to keep up. I tried to remain humble by looking meek when it suited my circumstances. False humility became a second lie; my addiction was the first. I tried to live so others would not see what I was like on the inside.
Slowly intellect became another false god in my life. I knew that if I was smart enough I would be an important person, especially to those spiritually minded. I could quote spiritual writers and people who had a distinctively God centered worldview. But inside, my life was crumbling like a piece of burnt toast. I was falling apart, coming apart at the seams. I could not hold my addiction to lust, any form of humility, and my true self together any more.
Only when I disclosed to my wife and two sons that I was attracted to men did I begin to understand that intellect and humility were compatible. My understanding grew when I kept honesty squarely on the table. When I lead with honesty about my addiction, humility rises above intellect. It becomes primary. Intellect becomes secondary. Then, and only then, is my faith a working faith. As one of my SA friends puts it, “Faith with skin on it.”
Honesty disarms my addict. I can’t be honest without being humble. I’m still learning to lead with my weakness when I share in meetings or talk to another person in the fellowship. I still want to lead with my intellect. I want to share what I know about recovery instead of how I am powerless over lust and how my life is unmanagable. For me, the progress in recovery I long for moves from honesty through humility to faith in God.
Humiliation is a stern teacher. Faced with my own addiction, I have swallowed hard and deep to take an honest look at myself. I wasn’t the person on the inside who I presented myself to be on the outside. In that way I was like the Pharisees, a white washed cup with a grossly dirty interior.
This past year I have had to rely on others to regain reality. I’ve faced facts about myself that I never wanted any other human to know. My emotions have been intense as I’ve walked the path of recovery. Emotions I have ignored in the past were near or on the surface most of the time. I’ve learned to sit with my emotions and process them with time. I’ve spoken about them to friends in the program, to therapists and to my wife. Unexposed emotions fester into a raging infection of resentment and despair. Naming them aloud doesn’t stop the pain but it allows the hurt to subside with time.
“After every time of exaltation, we are brought down with a sudden rush into things as they really are, where it is neither beautiful, poetic, nor thrilling. The height of the mountaintop is measured by the dismal drudgery of the valley, but it is in the valley that we have to live for the glory of God. We see His glory on the mountain, but we never live for His glory there. It is in the place of humiliation that we find our true worth to God— that is where our faithfulness is revealed. Most of us can do things if we are always at some heroic level of intensity, simply because of the natural selfishness of our own hearts. But God wants us to be at the drab everyday level, where we live in the valley according to our personal relationship with Him.” – Chambers
I’m a stronger person after being “brought down into things as they really are, where it is neither beautiful, poetic, not thrilling.” Life is earthy and real in the valley. Honesty dwells there and relationships hold grit like the clothing of a traveler on a quest. My own understanding of purpose is superseded by God’s will for me.
When I remain in humility long enough, His will rushes over me like water at the exact right temperature and buoys me up with his grace and love. I don’t need to swim hard to get where I am going because the current He provides takes me to the places He has prepared for me. There is peace and serenity here along with the uncertainties life brings. Only one thing is certain, God’s love for me a sinner.