I have fought so hard against the things in my personality that seem to obstruct the flow of God’s love in my heart. I have fought against the fears that keep me from doing things I love to do.In my program we call these things my character defects. I am learning to deal with my defects as follows.
Suppose there is a car parked in front of my house. That car represents the clogs in my personality that prevents the free flow of the wonder of God’s grace and love. At first I thought of the car as an old jalopy because it gives me nothing but trouble,. I changed my mind and now see it as a brand new, red Mustang convertible. I think of it as a beautiful car now simply because it must be beautiful because I am relentlessly drawn to it.
The truth is that I am stuck with that car in front of my house for the rest of my life. No tow truck is ever going to be able to tow it away. I can’t drive it away by drumming up faith enough to move it like the Bible mountain. I can’t sell it because most people have a similar car in their driveway and they sure don’t want two of them.
My car runs on the gasoline of my self condemnation. Shame gives it it’s power.That gives me hope because while I can not get rid of the car I can surely learn to keep the fool thing out of gas. Self condemnation is a habit and habits can be broken.
The habit of self criticism is very deep in my personality. False religion tells me if I appreciate myself I will become proud. Schools say if I get good enough grades I will be accepted. Ads say if I drink the right beer, or drive the right car or use the right deodorant people will love me. I have tried all of those things and more beside and none of them work. No matter what I accomplish, no matter how much I conform to the demands of my culture shame overwhelm my efforts.
Now,Imagine a Christmas when my four daughters were all kids. On this imaginary Christmas my wife and I saved and scrimped so that we could give them all a shiny new bicycle. I wouldn’t want them to say “Oh my new bicycle really isn’t much”. Nor would I want them to say to the neighborhood kids “My parents love me more than you parents because they gave us all new bikes”. I would just want them to be thrilled with their bikes and to be grateful for them.
MY uncle once said to me “George, you get less joy out of your accomplishment than any one I have ever known. I did not get joy out of my life because I never could say I did well I could only say “I could have done better. The expectation that someday I will do do enough because enough was a retreating goal.
Sometimes I think the parental demand that I do my best is a cruel admonition. I don’t think I have ever done my very best. I once published a book. It became impossible for me to get the book written until I gave up the idea of writing the book I wanted to write in exchange for the idea of writing the book I could write.
Today I am offering you these words I have written. In doing so I am sharing MY experience, strength and hope. One of the wisest slogans of my program is “Take what you and leave the rest. If my experience helps you that is thrilling to me but if it dry and empty that is fine with me also. It is still my experience,strength, and hope. If it does not work for you there is another saying I love. It is that “The best part of being an American is that You are never more that you are never more than twenty five feet from a trash can. My sense of self worth depends on me consistently improving the health of my perspective on life.