When my sons were young, my family had the opportunity to travel with our in-laws to Disney World almost every year. We would often consult travel guides that helped us become “experts” at navigating the Disney complex. We became well acquainted with the best times of the day to visit the parks, advice on how to find the most affordable places to eat where you got the most food for your money and what locations afforded the best viewing spot to watch the evening light show at Epcot Center. I remember the guide even provided instructions on how to wait in line for rides. For years, I’ve held onto a belief that the shortest line was on the right. I was surprised when I came across this reading in “Living Clean: The Journey Continues,” (NA World Services, Inc 2012).
“In the same way, we learn that finding God’s will is often just a matter of showing up. When we show up for life with a willingness and an open mind, the next right thing tends to present itself. We don’t have to look that hard to find it. A sponsor suggested, ‘Introduce your feet to the floor when you wake up in the morning. Show up to the shower to wash. Show up to your appointments and respect your commitments. When you hit a wall, turn left and find an opening.’ We learn to listen to our conscience–that still, small voice within that tells us if we’re heading in the right direction. The opening is often where we least expect it, leading us to a path, an opportunity, or a miracle we weren’t looking for.”(Living Clean, pg 60, Italics mine).
Recently, I made an error in judgement by sharing information that wasn’t mine and I broke a confidence. I know that this was wrong. The harm I’ve caused created a deep wound to the persons I offended. I don’t know if there is a way to restore the relationship. In this case, a mere, “I’m sorry,” isn’t going to do it. In writing my inventory and sharing it in a 5th step, I was seeking to understand the “exact nature” of the motive behind what I did. I’ve got some clues, but I’m still asking God to reveal more to me. I’m still writing and praying. The NA literature talks about the work of reconciliation as a process, “to reconcile with the truth of what I did and begin the process of making peace with the consequences of our actions,” (Living Clean, pg 152). This will require, of course, making through amends to persons I have harmed when I am clear and ready to move forward in a 9th step.
Turning left is about exploring deeper levels of where we need God’s healing and grace — “to be very aware of who we are becoming, and use this new information about our past to help us move forward,” (Living Clean, pg 154). I have a God in my life that offers forgiveness freely… all I have to do to step into a space where I can begin to receive God’s mercy. Oftentimes, I feel so badly about what I’ve done that I feel like I don’t deserve the space of God’s free forgiveness. The program reminds me to not subject myself to abuse anymore – even the abuses I put on myself.
“We sometimes feel like we are defined by our character defects. The most unpleasant things about ourselves are the things that can seem to be the most true. But even though we may see some painful things about ourselves, we know that’s not the whole truth about who we are,” (Living Clean, pg 59).
Only God can help us see who we truly are.
We have to ask God, “please show me who I am in your eyes God?”
Turning left is about seeking out God’s will for my life by stopping, praying, writing, waiting… maybe committing to take no more action that complicates the situation further… shutting up and entering into the silence… asking God to speak to me… being open for God to reveal God’s will… sitting with recovery friends… going to more meetings… taking care of my basic needs… putting recovery first.
Turning left is about seeking out persons who believe in me and can offer safe support, who can practice intentional listening and give honest feedback to help me take responsibility for my life. These are people who can show me through their love and acceptance how God sees me. These are people who are “for me” — who can pray with me, talk with me and walk with me.
Turning left may mean having to wait in a longer line to get on the ride.
For today God, grant me a path to forgiving myself that begins with forgiving the other by using the tools of the program to see my part in the situation, to take responsibility for my actions and to seek reconciliation with God, with myself and with the people in my life. I am the only person I have control over. The rest is in God’s hands. Amen.