Tuesday, July 12, 2005

My Toddler Teaches Me: Lesson 1

I could devote an entire blog to recovery lessons my not-quite-three son teaches me. He has many pedagogical methods: sometimes he sets an example for me, sometimes he unlocks new discoveries about myself, and sometimes he holds a mirror up so that I can see myself in him. His curriculum is pretty specialized and focused: it's all about teaching me how to love others and walk humbly and gratefully in the light of God's love.

The first lesson I'll share here is the rewards of Doing the Next Right Thing. I wrote a few days ago that my program, or I should say "program," is noteworthy more for its gaps than its contents. The gap I'm most conscious of is step six: readiness to have God remove my defects of character. I've so far identified twelve categories of personal defects -- the seven deadlies plus another five serious things. And the one that may be my biggest obstacle to progress is sloth. Even when I can clearly identify the Next Right Thing, I don't do it.

Every morning I pray for, among other things, focused motivation, energetic discipline and physical endurance to Do the Next Right Thing. The one area where I have most clearly seen God answer this prayer is with my son. Over the past couple months I have been aware of improvement in my effectiveness as a father. I seem to be able to see more clearly what my son needs from me, and be able to provide it promptly: a regular schedule, a new pair of shoes, a hug, a trip to the park, a call to his mom, paper and crayons, a new day care center, a graham cracker, a tickle. Big stuff and small stuff. Whether I'm too tired or not, whether it's something his mom "should" provide or not, whether I have something "better" to do or not. Far from perfect, but better than before.

The result is astounding. I've always had a good, loving relationship with my son. But it has become so much closer, so quickly. I guess he somehow understands that he can depend on me, and I can tell he enjoys his time with me more than he did before. And I feel so much closer to him. By making an effort to place his needs above my own desires, what I get from my relationship with him exceeds anything that I would have thought to desire!

This isn't anything different from what I've heard people say a hundred times in meetings. But my son has given me the first opportunity to try it myself, and he has given me the first taste of the rewards of Doing the Next Right Thing.


At 7/12/2005 07:10:00 PM, Blogger dAAve said...

Absolutely Beautiful post.

At 7/13/2005 05:42:00 AM, Blogger recoveryroad said...

Brilliant! Love it!

At 7/13/2005 06:35:00 AM, Blogger Grateful said...

Beautiful and insightful post. I think no matter how many time we hear others share their experiences, until we are blessed with our own, we can't fully appreciate the gift. Where this is particulary true is with 'spiritial experiences and awakenings'.
Keep up the great work.

At 7/13/2005 12:06:00 PM, Blogger Gossip Queen said...

Good Morning all! I am so grateful to find this blog,
That was awesome Phil, thank you for sharing...

I read this this morning and thought I would share a well
I dont remember if it was the daily reflection or as bill sees it, as my husband sent it to me this morning... but thought WOW

When I first came to AA , I wanted to find some of the elusive quality called humility. I didn't realize I was looking for humility because I thought it would help me get what I wanted, and that I would do anything for others if I thought God would somehow reward me for it. I try to remember now that the people I meet in the course of my day are as close to God as I am ever going to get while on this earth. I need to pray for knowledge of God's will today, and see how my experience with hope and pain can help other people; if I can do that, I don't need to search for humility, it has found me.


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