In the Promises of Alcoholics Anonymous we read that, “self-seeking will slip away.” And it is one of the gifts of recovery. In our using days we were, well, users. We cared about ourselves, "what’s in it for me?" and how to get mine.
In recovery we started to think about other people. Doing an inventory and a 5th step helped us to see that we had an impact on others. Listening in meetings we learned from other people’s stories how getting outside ourselves happens—someone else’s example of being kind, selfless or generous gave us ideas. We learned to be of service—first in the rooms and later in our homes and communities.
But another thing also happens in recovery—has happened in my recovery—that makes me take another look at, “self-seeking will slip away”. My recovery habits and the gains of recovery taught me to look deeply at who I am and how I got here. I do a lot of outside work: retreats, workshops, therapy, spiritual direction. I am growing, changing and becoming a better person. The people around me certainly benefit from my continual self-scrutiny. But…
But what is ongoing recovery and what is obsessive self-seeking?
I love self-help books and I love becoming healthier physically, mentally ad emotionally. But still, there are moments when I ask myself, “Is this also just a shinier method of self-seeking?” After all, isn’t it me that I am exploring, improving and changing with my endless reading, TED Talks, food plans, exercise strategies, family mining and even spiritual exploring?
What is growth for good and what is growth to look good? What is change to be a better person and when is it to seem a better person for still, another—not so humble—motivation?
I think this is one of those places where we—and I—have to check motives carefully. The very same behavior, and the very same reading can come from a genuine desire to heal and change or it can come from a desire to heal and change so others will be more attracted, impressed, connected to me.
Which is it on which day? And where is trust in God to heal me without me running the show?
What do you think? If you too are a “self-improver” where do you draw the line? How do you know when you are trying to take charge of God’s role in your life?