It is a basic principle of spiritually that we begin to choose our thinking. This is foreign to me and only in the last year or so is it even something that I have experienced. I bring it up as a contrast to my experience with the Christian concept of taking all thoughts captive from 2 Cor 5: 3-5 because I carried those verses with me for years. I toted my note to the hospital where I worked, the grocery store where I shopped, in the car while I drove. It was in my purse no matter where I went. I knew this ‘taking thoughts captive’ to be my goal but achieving it eluded me for decades.
In my experience, choosing what we do with our minds doesn’t start by throwing out the old thoughts. It starts by garnering new thoughts and truths. This is what I didn’t have while in my old way of living. I had to clean house entirely with the Steps and attend to what was modeled for me and told to me around the tables.
Slowly, it’s clicking into place and taking thoughts captive isn’t a chore. I have so many new thought patterns there simply isn’t room or inclination to go back to the falsehoods and temptations that ruled my life back then. So it seems to me that I had to first open my mind and allow other kinds of thinking inside. This was not easy.
I like to determine what I’ll believe… but when I first gave up my old patterns for the principles of the 12 Steps, I didn’t have a clear enough mind to really even hear what was being shared… for a very long time.
And for me, I’d been wounded in church, so it took time to develop a trust level that allowed me to listen differently. Storytelling is a big part of AA. Story listening is how I eventually grew. I wanted to have what these people had and they made me feel safe enough to find it. I started to act like them, or at least try to.
In recovery rooms I found the acceptance, love and understanding that I’d craved for my whole life. I found it in the program around many different tables across the US. At some point identification began to happen and imitation (a poor mockery) left. Their stories highlighted what had happened in my old way of thinking and I craved truth about myself and the chance to face reality in a new, unprecedented way. It was Biblical for me. My very own parting of the sea.
For all that to work, I first had to ‘listen to myself’. Have you heard that in the rooms? “Pay attention to yourself” is the best way to begin this whole process.
Second, I had to realize that God would do for me what I couldn’t do for myself. He would remove the lies I had believed from childhood, the secrets I had hidden from me and others and bring reality into focus.
My former attempt to throw out the ‘bad’ thoughts based in ego and anger and distortion didn’t work. Self cannot fix self. Occasionally, I still get caught in that web of deception. God can fix me, though. I know that.
By practicing the principles from the 12 Steps daily, I’ve been able to experience a new way of living without so much distortion of reality. Every day I remind myself that I haven’t arrived. I’m not there yet…actually I never will be. I don’t have it all together and I’m not done.
Whenever I think I’ve really got something…I do, but it’s called ego, not truth.