Voices of Recovery today quoted Lifeline Sampler, page 41, “I became more receptive to being grateful.” The contributor described how “poor me” thinking had created a pattern of critical judgment of everything but him/her, and contrasted that to their new attitude of gratitude, “Now when I look up, I see that there are far more ceiling tiles that aren’t stained.” That struck me funny because I am the kind of person who can spot the flaws and faults in minute detail, even where it shouldn’t matter – like ceiling tiles. But the principles and practice of OA recovery, its Steps and fellowship, caused me to quiet whatever urges I had to criticize, correct, or cross-talk, and just say, “thank you.” I remember when I was new to OA, I began saying, “thank you” more consistently than any other phrase. I am grateful to my fellows in recovery, but more importantly, I am grateful for them. This gratitude keeps me from carrying out the harmful critique that was my old character’s nature.

Proverbs 18:13 says, “He who answers before listening – that is his folly and his shame.” I remember (because it was so recently) many times cutting people off, robbing them of their opportunity to express themselves. I shudder to think of the arrogance of a statement like, “I know what you are going to say, “and am nauseated because I usually topped that with an even more condescending order, “so don’t say it!” I will never be able to make it up to those I have harmed with such an attitude, but I can make living amends by actively listening to others instead of planning my comeback. I can release my need to be more right, have a better story, know more, or say it better. Loving others isn’t in saying more, but in hearing more. Lord, give me ears to hear and a heart to listen.

Judges 4 and 5 tell the story of Deborah, a female judge, a prophetess, who led Israel for a time. She gave an order to one of the commanders to deploy against an enemy, and he mocked her. “Barak said to her, ‘If you go with me, I will go, but if you don’t go with me I won’t go.’ ‘Very well,’ Deborah said, ‘I will go with you. But because of the way you are going about this the honor will not be yours, for the LORD will hand Sisera over to a woman.” And so it was. Every man in the opposing army was struck dead except Sisera, the leader. He hid in a tent, where a woman named Jael drove a tent peg through his head while he slept, and was sung the heroine of the battle. (Judges 4:21, 5:26) I hope that, in my dealings with people different from me, whether in gender, race, politics, religion, or sexual orientation, I do not allow my self-centered addiction to me-my-mine to come between me and an opportunity to serve someone. Lord, keep me from discriminating against any You would have me help; let me reflect Your loving kindness on everyone with whom I have contact.