Excerpt from Sober Boots blog post that I read today:
(You can follow Heather Kopp yourself here: http://www.soberboots.com)
Dave likes trees a lot. He knows their names, where they grow best, and a whole bunch of other boring stuff about them. Here’s what I know about trees: The ones with pointy sharp things might be pines. Oh, and they’re typically green.
“I had a little revelation about trees,” Dave continued. “But it might sound sort of dumb.”
“Tell me,” I urged. (I love it when Dave sounds dumb.)
He started with something I already knew—that he has been watching all week for new leaves on the trees. Spring has been confoundingly late this year, so it’s been a long watch.
“Anyway,” he continued, “this time of year, when we get a warm stretch, they come out so impossibly fast. One day, no leaves; the next, leaves. How do they do that? And then it hit me. The leaves have been growing all night long. Even in the dark, the sap is still rising, doing its thing. I can’t believe I just thought of that.”
I laughed and agreed that it seems rather obvious. But of course, I couldn’t resist the also rather obvious spiritual metaphor. “So do you think we grow at night too—in our soul, spiritually—even while we’re sleeping?”
“No,” Dave answered quickly.
“Then again…” He thought a moment. “I guess that’s a pretty ego-centred response, isn’t it? To assume that I can’t possibly grow unless I’m thinking. Like our minds do all the work, not God.”
I don’t know about you, but I often forget this truth. Years after moving out of a faith culture that promised more holiness as a reward for more effort, I still sometimes forget that I am powerless to transform myself. I want to believe I can see a defect of character, and then take steps to fix it. I’m grateful for God’s help, sure. But my version of transformation has me in control. Me taking credit, too.
Think my way to change? It might sound promising until I remember that my best thinking got me drunk. What I learned in recovery—and I’m embarrassed to admit it came as a surprise—is that changing me at my core is God’s job, not mine. In recovery, we open ourselves to the miracle of transformation in many ways, but perhaps none more directly than when we say the 7th Step prayer. It goes like this:
“My Creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad. I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character that stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows. Grant me strength, as I go out from here, to do your bidding. Amen.”
Of course, we all have a significant part to play in our spiritual progress. We get to do our best to create the ideal conditions for growth to take place in our soul. We get to read spiritual books, pray and meditate, and take part in a spiritual community that will tell us the truth.
But maybe the most important thing we can do is act like trees. Let our roots go down deep into the ground of God’s love. Let God’s Spirit flow like sap into our being. Believe he’s at work, even in the dark.
After reading this blog I went onto Facebook (as you do) and saw a friend post this quote:
A certain darkness is needed to see the stars.
(although I’m unsure where this has originated from so I am unable to give credit where its due)
I love this quote. And it makes me think about Abraham and God and their conversation of stars and promises and legacies. But maybe that’s a post for another day.