I read once that African women daily sweep the ground in front of their huts. Gave me pause. What that meant to me was that they care about the space they live in. Did I?
When I lived in a house, this tidbit inspired me to take better care of my physical space in the neighborhood: my yard, sidewalk, front porch… but now I’m going deeper. I’ve always loved organizing and having things put away. I can’t even think right when things are all messy, but this goes beyond cleaning up my desktop or sweeping the outside rug.
I’m now applying the principle to my inner space. This is making a huge difference in how I feel. I’m applying that African broom to my heart and head spaces. Brooming away worries, preoccupations, fear, anger, resentments, do-lists, shoulda’s, angst and guilty regrets. The clinging dusty list is endless, isn’t it? Whatever ‘bothers’ me, whatever my mind boomerangs back to — that’s what I need to sweep away.
If you know me well enough, you figure I’m about to give you step-by-step tips. OK. I will. (I used to be so contrary that if I realized someone could guess my next move, I changed it up just to be unpredictable. I’m over that now… usually).
- Become willing to hope that life could be better
- Admit I’m not God
- Decide to let Him control my life
- Examine in writing just what bothers me and identify the causes
- Talk over the results with at least one other person, seeing truth
- Identify my inherent weaknesses and become willing to change
- Ask God to remove them and practice new behavior
- Prepare to make amends with myself and with others
- Do the amends work
- Daily apply these principles for living
- Pray and meditate consistently, asking for God’s direction and power every day
- Share what happened to me when I surrendered my self-will to God’s will
Resentments, guilt, fear and remorse are all blockers from the daily peace that is available to us once we have finished steps 4 through 9. Step 10 is the simple, yet effective sweeping of the rug on a daily basis.
There are only two wills involved: mine and God’s. I keep sweeping mine away and the space in my mind and heart become cleaner, more peaceful, less cluttered. The Steps continue to remove what blocks me from God.
The old ideas will be cast aside and a new set of motives will begin to dominate the mind ~ Alcoholics Anonymous, 2013, p 27
The more I surrender to the work of the 12 Steps and seek His guidance, the more serenity I experience. It works for me and for countless others. You don’t have to be in recovery to apply these principles. They work as effectively as picking up a broom and giving it a whirl.