This week's "Here's To Your Health," is a continuation of Step Seven, Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings... But again we are driven by the inescapable conclusion, which we draw from AA experience that we surely must try with a will or else fail, and fall by the wayside. At this stage of our progress we are under heavy pressure, and coercion to do the right thing. We are obliged to choose between the pains of trying and the certain penalties of failing to do so. These initial steps along the road to recovery are taken grudgingly, yet we do take them. We may still have no very high opinion of humility as a desirable virtue, but we do recognize it as a necessary aid to our survival.
But when we have taken a square look at some of these defects, have discussed them with another person, and have become willing to have them removed, our thinking about humility commences to have a wider meaning. By this time in all probability we have gained some measure of release from our more devastating handicaps. We enjoy moments in which there is something like real peace of mind. To those of us who have hitherto known only excitement, depression, or anxiety-in other words, to all of us-this newfound peace is a priceless gift. Something new has indeed been added. Where humility had formerly stood for a forced feeding of humble pie, it now begins to mean the nourishing ingredient, which can give us serenity.
This improved perception of humility starts another revolutionary change in our outlook. Our eyes begin to open to the immense values, which have come straight out of painful ego puncturing. Until now, our lives had been largely devoted to running from pain and problems and we fled from them as we would a plague. We never wanted to deal with the fact of suffering. Escape via the bottle was always our solution. Character building through suffering might be all right for saints, but it certainly didn't appeal to us.
Then in AA, we looked and listened. Everywhere we saw failure and misery transformed by humility into priceless assets. We heard story after story of how humility had brought strength out of weakness. In every case, pain had been the price of admission into a new way of life. But this admission price had purchased more then we expected. It brought a measure of humility, which we soon discovered to be a healer of pain. We began to fear less, and desire humility more.
During this process of learning more about humility, the most profound result of all was the change in our attitude toward God. And this was true whether we had been believers or non-believers. We began to get over the idea that the Higher Power was a sort of bush-league pinch hitter, to be called upon only in an emergency. The notion that we would still live our lives, God helping a little now and then, began to evaporate. Many of us who thought ourselves religious awoke to the limitations of this attitude. Refusing to place God first, we had deprived ourselves of His help. But now the words "Of myself I am nothing, the Father doeth the works" began to carry bright promise and meaning.