The Third Step:
My dearest friend, my non-biological brother, is privy to this blog. He did me the great favor of providing some feedback.
“I kinda see it as you violently rejecting your former self and that a more moderate ground will ultimately be reached. I’m not convinced that I’m hearing a truly authentic voice just yet. I think its pretty remarkable transformation though. I wasn’t expecting this at all.”
Of interest to me here is the issue of a “more moderate ground.”
Bigby** says, “Conversion is the only means by which a radically bad person can be changed into a radically good person.”
Now I suspect that my friend, and almost anyone else who knows me in real life, would strenuously object to the characterization that I was “radically bad.” However, I believe that’s exactly what I was. Foremost, I can look at the fruits my behavior bore. I lived a life of deep and abiding shame. If one is covered in third degree burns, there is an awfully high likelihood that one was on fire. Second, my wife was covered in second degree burns because she stood too close and kept trying to put me out. Third, the qualities that appear redemptive – remorse, apology, objective self-criticism – are actually not redemptive at all. First I burden you with my wrath, then I burden you by seeking your forgiveness. In both phases, I place the burden upon you. Intention is a poor criterion by which to measure the goodness and badness of a man.
“You will know whether or not something is from God by its fruits,” say assorted religious folk.
So I don’t think I can find an easier, softer way. I might be able to, but I don’t want to. My soul is sick and dirty from decades of sin and self-will. I do think that as I settle into this conversion my tone will moderate. I imagine I will grow into shying from explicit spiritual talk, because that scares people away. If I am very serious about helping others, then my transmission of the message will need to prioritize what they need to hear over what I want to say.***
I’ve made a decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of God as I understand him. So far, it’s turned out to be the most empowering decision I’ve ever made. I trust that more will be revealed. My higher power has plans for me, and my job is to do my best to understand and execute those plans.
*This places him in a rather small group of real life people including my wife, his wife (another deep and dear friend), and another couple I trust. The male half of this last couple is another of my oldest friends and has been sober a long time.
**Some old pre-AA guy who wrote a book.
***I’d normally say I’m bad at predicting things at this juncture. But in this case it feels like not at all the right thing to say.