Most of us want to craft a life with less conflict and more congeniality. And yet we often find ourselves stuck in old patterns of dischord in spite of our desires to live a more fulfilling and loving life. Day three of a new year and some of us have already given up on even daring to expect change after years of collapsed good intentions and sincere resolutions. This is our norm.
If you are tired of being sick and tired and want to take a step toward change, listen in to Sister Monahan’s experience in AA. Notice what changed for her that allowed her to tackle her demons and recover her life:
I learned that the absence of cross-talk [no advice giving, critiquing or commenting on other people’s sharing] both protected me from overt criticism and gave me no cause for wasting time in an imagined rebuttal to what others said. So the challenge put to me by their honest disclosure, not only about their drinking and how the program worked for them, but about themselves, warts and all, was an interior one. My only task was to figure out what I really felt and thought and then to say it as clearly as I could. No small task that, and more helpful to me than any amount of criticism. And I learned that meetings calmed me, brought me peace….As best I can figure out now, these beneficent results come from listening.1
Here are some suggestions that I take away from her experience:
- Silence and attentiveness are healing.
- Finding a community that can hold suffering is like a giant hug for the soul.
- Criticism rarely helps heal.
What great intentions have you promised you will accomplish this new year? Are you already discouraged by the choices you’ve made these first few days? Perhaps you didn’t start this devotional blog at the beginning of a new year even though I’m writing it along that timeline. Can you still relate? What precipitates fresh starts for you? If not a new year, what? Do you find yourself stuck in spite of your goals? What suggestions from above might be applicable to you? How will you take action in light of these considerations?
Molly Monahan. Seeds of Grace: A Nun’s Reflections on the Spirituality of Alcoholics Anonymous [Riverhead Trade, 2002] ↩