August 19

Purification:  Part IV

Forgiveness

       Ultimately, the person we must answer to is God, the Source of all life, and the Creator of all things.  It is God, your Higher Power, that has the power to forgive, absolve, pardon – and execute divine surgery, the removal of all your shortcomings.  And divine surgery is what it is going to take to clear out the weeds – choking the garden in your soul – in order for you to experience the freedom of desire.

      Step six, “were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character” suggests that we make ourselves ready.  Let’s take a look at how we are to prepare ourselves for divine surgery. 

      First of all, I’m going to suggest what it doesn’t mean:  “Getting ready” doesn’t mean that you have to polish yourself up to be worthy of God’s love and acceptance.  No amount of working out, cosmetic surgery, or a rigorous health regime will prepare you for this kind of surgery.  There’s no big test that you need to study for; you don’t need to get your Doctorate in psychology, or philosophy, or even theology.  In fact, it’s the exact opposite of what you might think.

      The ‘secret’ to being prepared is found in the seventh step, “Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.” 

      Humility has often been misunderstood and misrepresented by so many of us who want to live according to this ideal.  In my family of origin, I was taught that a humble person always put everyone else first.  If you were going to exhibit humility you were going to have to put yourself last.

      Similarly, I was taught that a humble person was self deprecating – even to the point of allowing others to “wipe their feet” on me.  (Because, after all, I’m just a maggot on the dunghill of life!)  When we make reference to ourselves, we ought to present ourselves as the lowliest of the low, unworthy to be considered of value or importance.

      But this is not authentic humility!  This is, actually, false humility; the worst kind of arrogance that comes disguised as meekness and modesty.  A self-proclaimed martyr is nothing short of egotism.  A self-proclaimed victim of abuse and unfair treatment is nothing short of trumped up superiority.  (You truly feel proud of your own humility!)  Playing Mr. Nice Guy will never get you what you truly desire.

      Let’s get real for a minute.  Humility – if it’s going to work on a spiritual level – is based on a realistic attitude of yourself in relationship to your Higher Power.  And a reasonable approach is one of simplicity:  God is Creator, and I am the creation (the creature).  You are who you are because God made it so.  Can you accept that God is in charge, and you are not?  Does it anger you to realize that all things do not revolve around you – that you are not the center of the Universe?

      A proper and accurate assessment of your relationship to God can help you to realize three things: 

  • That you are valuable (you are God’s own creation)
  • That you are worthy  (you are a child of God and loved deeply)
  • That you can ask confidently, expecting your humble request shall be granted without reluctance.

      A humble prayer is filled with gratitude and expectant joy.  A humble prayer is always accompanied by a declaration of thanksgiving in advance.  This reveals the faith of the one who humbly asks.

      There is a flip side to this prayer:  Not only do we ask to have our shortcomings removed, but we must expect to have them replaced with certain virtues.  Perhaps it goes without saying that when a character defect is removed, a better quality of character must replace it.  Nature cannot tolerate a void, either in the physical realm of what is manifest, or in the spiritual realm of the un-manifest.

      Purification – the sacred purging of the weeds in our soul – must be done fearlessly, rigorously and thoroughly.  The desires of your heart will never be realized until this is accomplished.  The fifth principle follows naturally from the completion of the fourth:  The principle of Atonement – making amends.