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The doorbell rings.

Behind the screen door stands my plumber Rob, the beak of his cap shielding the morning sun from his eyes. I smile, knowing I am in good hands, skillful and sinewy. For years he has kept my kitchen and bathroom in good repair. More significant than his skill, though, are his cheerful manner, his willingness to address any problem, and solutions are found within the drawers of his battered toolbox or the compartments of his van. Unlike other plumbers I have had, he also wipes up watery streaked floors with paper towels that he carries with him, then disposes them.

On a deeper level, I view Rob’s lifelong profession from a spiritual perspective. Instead of wearing a suit and tie to work, he pulls on clean jeans, a red T-shirt, canvas shoes, this morning’s attire. Instead of scrutinizing proposals in boardrooms, he studies clogged sinks, leaking faucets. Instead of lunching at gourmet restaurants, he snacks in his truck, in between customers. Instead of ordering state-of-the-art adornments, he replaces worn fixtures or makes others serviceable. Such humble work has etched Rob’s servant-character, not unlike Jesus, beautiful to behold.

On an even deeper level, I liken Rob’s knack of cleaning up stinking messes and restoring water flow with Spirit’s action in human hearts, gone amuck with disorders. The process can be complicated, costly, even exhausting, but with the restoration of the flow of grace/water, exhilarating life returns in its myriad colors.

The Spirit-Plumber is still working on me.

 

How often does the seductive voice within our psyches discount our value as compared with another, whether in a boardroom, in a classroom, during a tennis match, or wherever others gather? Its insinuation in our awareness, as if the observation was our own? It clearly does not want us to thrive in our flawed humanness, unique to each of us. Instead, we feel less than, unappreciated, and prone to self-pity, and if addicted to a substance, lose our souls.

Before I entered Twelve Step recovery, I was under siege to this seductive voice: the worm of envy grew fat feasting upon my innards. Only later did I learn about boundaries, when breeched, and the need to maintain them.

Help to do this came by saying, out loud, “Kill the comparer,” a tool that was shared by a wise woman, decades ago. It works if used with Steps I to III, followed by the Step IX amends to ourselves.

I liken this on-going purification to warfare—The use of a proper sword is critical in the cultivation of the clean heart that Jesus speaks of in the Beatitudes…for they shall see God. And we will, even now.

 

 

 

Step Five of Chronic Pain Anonymous – Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

 Step Five prodded my asking Higher Power for Courage and Rigorous Honesty, two Ingredients critical to working this Step. Already, I was stretched to the max with my inventory. I needed help.

True, Higher Power had unearthed my anger, hidden from myself. Like dark lenses permanently affixed to my glasses, their toxicity distorted the world around me and triggered festering resentments in my psyche: the accumulation of decades of unrelieved illness and joint pain. This discovery still smarted. Yet, my written inventory compelled me to move forward and not cop out. CPA offered me a new way of living, already glimpsed during daily conference calls.

Again, I reviewed my list of character defects: their truth had scoured my essence, their conniving thwarted my attempts to live life fully. Only within insubstantial posturing had I aged into my senior years. With no one had I been intimate. But this, too, would change.

Because my sponsor had supported my self-scrutiny, I chose her to receive its findings, expecting them to be lightened by her sense of humor and seasoned grasp and practice of the 12 Steps. I was not disappointed. New learning began to supplant out-worn attitudes and practices: Gone was my uniqueness, afflicted by poor health; gone was my false pride parading under the guise of pseudo humility; gone was my nasty comparer enslaving me in bondage; gone was my exaggeration embellishing stories; gone was my reluctance to expend meager energies in service to others.

A new Liz emerged from the ashes of this discovery: flawed but graced and unconditionally loved by Higher Power. But there was Step Six …

 

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