by Claire A.

There is much that resonates with me in this Tradition 4 chapter. Most of all I can relate to the promoter, who ignores the advice from the A.A. Foundation and plows ahead, organizing and promoting and earnestly spearheading a gigantic mess. This is exactly what I would do when I was drinking. I meant well.

I meant well—Earnestly spearheading a gigantic mess

It’s not explicitly stated, but humility is at the core of this tradition. We are allowed by this tradition to run A.A. groups with a massive amount of leeway. We can meet where and when we want, run the show how we want, build a massive three-story A.A. shrine if we want. There is freedom to go about this however we want, as long as we don’t harm other groups or A.A. as a whole. And whether we know it or not, we will learn humility through this process – we will, eventually, learn we are not running the show and we don’t have all the answers.

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“Don’t take yourself too damn seriously.”

I think for a bunch of drunks, for me anyway, this freedom is critical. I have heard many people say, and it’s true for me, too, that if they had been forced to do things as certain way (believing in a certain conception of God is one big example), they wouldn’t have stayed. And it’s not just that we’re stubborn, though I certainly am. It’s that we learn through making mistakes what works and what doesn’t. There is nothing like a colossal screw-up to teach me what I don’t know. I wish I didn’t have to make mistakes, but ultimately, sometimes grouchily, I am grateful for them.

Every now and then I actually have the humility to ask for guidance. It’s usually when I am totally overwhelmed or confused or both, so I am forced to ask. And that’s when I see how much experience there already is out there. This happened to me recently with a non-A.A. group I’m in. I’d been asked to serve as parliamentarian for the group. Having no clue what this meant, I was forced to reach out to other parliamentarians and the school district to find out more. Little did I know, I would find a trove of information and kind people who want to help. I just had to have the humility to ask.

For a bunch of drunks, this freedom is critical

I love the fourth tradition, too, because it reminds me to have a sense of humor. What’s the saying, “If you want to make God laugh, tell her your plans”? I can get so wrapped up in what I’m doing that I lose all perspective. Sure, I can mean well. My efforts can be for a good cause. But I have to remember that I’m in God’s world, not my world, and I have to remember there are other people here, too, who also care deeply about things, and may not – shocker – always agree with me.

So I need to tread lightly, remember to enjoy what I’m doing, and not take myself too damn seriously. And, as the Tradition points out: Being able to laugh at myself is humility. I am a human. By definition, I am bound to make mistakes, many of them. Knowing that, my big challenge to is remember that at all times.

Can I bring that sense of being human into my work? Into my parenting? Can I have humility while I am presenting what I think is a great idea to other people? Maybe I can and maybe I can’t, but I do know I have a better chance when I’m sober, and practicing in A.A.

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