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Friday, October 14, 2011

Overcoming Our Fears and Desires

"Since most of us are born with an abundance of natural desires, it isn't strange that we often let these far exceed their intended purposes. When they drive us blindly, or we willfully demand that they supply us with more satisfactions or pleasures than are possible or due us, that is the point at which we depart from the degree of perfection that God wishes for us here on earth. That is the measure of our character defects, or, if you wish, of our sins."

-- The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, page 65 --
Fear, we read at Step Seven in The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, is the "chief activator" of our defects of character. But what, we should ask, is the root of this self-centered fear? In Step Six, above, Bill W. suggests that the root cause of fear is desire - in this instance, otherwise natural desires that far exceed their natural bounds. Such overblown desires, he notes, are "the measure" of our character defects. That is, our blind desires create the mental room for our character defects to manifest and operate.

This is unsurprising, for if we look at the resentments list in our Step Four inventory we will see again and again that the action of others had impinged on our desires - our desires for security, for sex relationships, for personal relationships etc. These are (as Bill notes) natural desires; however, to the extent that we demand more security, more personal relationships, and more sex "than is possible or due to us," we create a fear that we will never have enough - enough security, enough money, enough friends, enough sex etc., etc., etc.

And just to the extent that these overblown desires manifest in fear, will we act act self-centeredly in response to them, trying vainly to satisfy and fulfill desires that are in all reality unquenchable. Chasing these desires we are, thus, stuck in a rut of our own making. "Living upon a basis of unsatisfied demands," we read, "we are in a state of continual disturbance and frustration. Therefore no peace was to be had unless we could find a means of reducing those demands." (Twelve and Twelve, page 76.)

How then do we go about reducing these demands? The answer it seems is, not surprisingly, right in the Steps. If we continue to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, we will experience a freedom from these desires gone wild.

Not convinced? Consider for a moment the propositions and promises we read concerning Step Three in the 'Big Book' of Alcoholics Anonymous (at pp. 62-63):
"(W)e decided that hereafter in this drama of life, God was going to be our Director. He is the Principal, we are His agents. He is the Father, and we are His children. Most good ideas are simple, and this concept was the keystone of the new and triumphant arch through which we passed to freedom."

"When we sincerely took this position, all sorts of remarkable things followed. We had a new Employer. Being all powerful, He provided what we needed, if we kept close to Him and performed His work well. Established on such a footing we became less and less interested in ourselves, our little plans and designs. More and more we became interested in seeing what we could contribute to life. As we felt new power flow in, as we enjoyed peace of mind, as we discovered we could face life successfully, as we became conscious of His presence, we began to lose our fear of today, tomorrow, and the hereafter. We were reborn." (Emphasis added.)
To the degree that we seek and perform God's will for us, rather than relying on our own narrow selves, life itself will provide what we need, but not necessarily what we want. Our choice then, is whether we rely on self-will or God's will. If we rely on God's will, not only will we find that we have what we "need," we are also promised that we will "lose our fear of today, tomorrow and the hereafter."

Thus, conscious faith in the efficacy of "a Power greater than ourselves" to provide what we need is the solution that removes the desires that underlie our fears. Thus in relying on the God of our understanding rather than our self-centered thinking, we are released from the cycle of fear and desire that activates our character defects. We are then, in effect, "reborn."

1 comment:

  1. thank you, exactly what I needed to read this morning.

    ReplyDelete