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Humbled By a Fire

This week is all about being humble. There are many definitions and examples of being humbled and I would like to share with you how I was humbled this past weekend. On Friday night, I had a friend out at our cottage with her daughter and we had a girl's night planned. FYI, girl's night has a whole different meaning now. I love this friend so much because she has totally come alongside me in this new way of life. She even bought a bike!

Just as we were about to head out on those bikes, I got a call from my husband that one of our stores was on fire and he didn't know how bad it was. I was only 20 minutes away from this location and he was about 2 hours out, so my friend and I jumped in the car and headed that way. On the way there, we had to pull over no less than six times for fire trucks to pass us going each way. I said, “There is no way these could all be for our store.” But they were. The scene I came upon was horrific and impressive at the same time. Let me explain, and as I write this, the tears are flowing again. So emotional these days!

The building was fully engulfed and already about half gone. There were SIX fire departments on the scene all in charge of some part of the operation, and working together like a well oiled machine. The relief I felt when they told me none of our employees were injured is indescribable. I stood there very humbly watching for a long time…

  • as those fire fighters did their job, most of them volunteers.

  • as more and more people from our company showed up to help in any way they could and to support us.

  • as my phone blew up with text after text from friends and family as the story hit the local news.

  • as the community showed up to offer food and water to everyone there. (Remember how hot it was last Friday?)

  • as complete strangers came up to us telling us how much they valued our business in their community. Thank you, Twin Lakes!

  • as my dear friend spent her Friday night at a fire with me. God knew I needed her.

  • here’s the one that means more than you will ever know: being there for my husband as he walked across the lot towards me after a long 2-hour drive across the state; that I was present for him; that he could count on me to do what I could until he got there; most of all, that he didn't have to wonder if I was sober when he called.

I am humbled by all that happened that night. God showed up Friday night and I was humbled before him and everyone that stepped up in a tragic situation. It's just stuff, we have insurance, and no one was hurt. God is good is the understatement of the year. I am sure there aren't any fireman reading my blog so they will probably never see this, but I really wanted to share from my heart: many thanks.

Ok, Step 7 this week. But first, our review of the steps we’ve covered so far:

Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over our problems-that our lives had become unmanageable.

Step 2: Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

Step 3: We made a decision to turn our wills and our lives over to the care of God.

Step 4: We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

Step 5: We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

Step 6: We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

Step 7: We humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.

First it was character defects, and now it is shortcomings. Somehow that doesn't sound as bad as character defects. Shortcomings actually sounds like an oops. The definition of shortcomings is, “a fault or problem that makes someone or something less effective.”

Then there’s the fact that we are supposed to do this humbly. Which I don’t have a problem with. I think I am always humble when I go to God. How many times in scripture do we hear the phrase “humbly before God.” I would say quite a bit, but maybe I could do better with people? I am sure I could, because to practice humility means I have an honest desire to seek and do God’s will; nothing more and nothing less. Always room for improvement there.

In the big blue book of AA, Bill Wilson expanded this definition of being humble when he wrote that humility was, “the clear recognition of what and who we really are, followed by a sincere attempt to be what we can be.” I like that one too.

Here’s my weekly AA caveat. In AA, these steps are done with a sponsor which I did not choose to do. However, the track record of success in doing these steps with a sponsor in relation to drugs and alcohol has proven to have had great success in moving someone into living a life of sobriety. So if you are interested in looking at this from an AA perspective, I encourage you to pursue it! There is a ton of information out there.

Does anyone remember Calvinettes? Better known now as Gems? In the CRC Church I grew up in, I went to Calvinettes every other Monday night and it is one of my best memories of growing up in the church. Micah 6:8 was the verse we recited at the beginning of every meeting and it's never left me. I’m not saying I have always lived it, but I have never forgotten it. I know the theme song too, but since I can’t sing (according to my family) I’ll leave that one alone.

That verse which I have known since I was a little girl, is basically step seven. “To walk humbly with our God.” To do this we need to make honesty, tolerance, and true love of God and man the basis for our daily life. I cannot describe to you how much I felt that last Friday night. “True love of God and man.” This verse kept echoing in my brain.

Unfortunately, I don’t think humble usually describes me very well. I mean in a situation of that magnitude last Friday, I think anyone would be humble. I know that life experiences like that are going to make us more humble. Especially before God.

I was also humbled in a way that reminded me I was not in control. There's nothing wrong with a Friday night bike ride with a friend, but God's plan was different. That's the hardest part for me. That life can change in a split second. But, we accept his plan and move on. I think that’s a big part of being humble.

I find it unbelievable that in the drinking years and probably even before that, I may have thought I was better than others (aka not very humbled). Ouch, sorry but it’s true. I mean I wasn't making a conscious decision to think that way, nor did I realize it in that time of my life. But I see it now as I try really hard not to ever be that shallow again.

I think of when I was in a recovery meeting for the first time and thinking to myself, “I AM NOT LIKE THEM”! Really, Princess? I had all the same nasty habits they did, but I just made sure I didn't look the same as them? Oh yes! That’s right! My outside appearance was what counted, not what was so ugly on the inside. I didn't want anyone to see what was going on behind the mask. I made it clear (at least to me) that I was not in the same category as anyone else in those chairs. Not very humble and I carry some shame about who I was in those years. I probably should have opened the dictionary and looked up humility a long time ago.

Simple Definition of Humility:

"the quality or state of not thinking you are better than other people: the quality or state of being humble."

Source: Merriam-Webster Dictionary

I’m surprised it didn't say, “For the opposite of practicing humility, turn to the definition of Sherry Hoppen.” I'm not beating myself up here; I was that person.

But here is the good part. God knew I was still teachable, moldable. Think of the parable (Jeremiah 19) of him being the potter and us being the clay. The Good Lord stepped in and started working on me. I don’t think he would ever want me or anyone else to stay there. It is a very dissatisfying and sad way to live. I know, I’ve been there. It’s not what he created us for.

I found this list I saved from and my personal reflections on each one. Always a work in progress (sigh). You know this very common cliche that we have heard a million times? “Be patient, God isn’t finished with me yet?” I think it should have another line that says, “And he never will be."

#1 Give up self-reliance for reliance on a higher power—whatever that may be to you.

For me that is God and God alone.

#2 Learn to practice humility and put character-building ahead of comfort.

Anything that has my mind screaming, “No, thats going to be uncomfortable!!!” is something I need to go through, not around. Usually it is something or someone related to my past way of handling the situation, with alcohol.

#3 Make honesty, tolerance, and true love of man and God the daily basis of living.

Be there for others-always. To put my own agenda away if a friend (or anyone for that matter) needs me for anything.

#4 Accept that humility is necessary to achieve a sober and fulfilled life.

Remember WWJD??? I don’t need a bracelet to remind myself to ask that question first. If I do my best to be like Jesus, humility will come naturally.

#5 Change your perspective from a self-centered one to a humble, selfless one.

To think before I react to anyone or anything. It's not all about me. This week I felt that someone had been unfair in an confrontation, but because it took me by surprise, I just let her talk and walked away. Later, I kept rehashing what I should of said. You know what I mean? All the words I needed came later! My daughter said to me, “Mom, quit ruminating over what that lady said.” I was like ok, is that what I was doing? Even though I didn't think so in the moment. I was, definitely… A lot of times I see how MY behavior needs to change instead of someone else’s.

I no longer question why I got the short straw when it came to the addiction that ran my life for so many years. I don't like to think about who that person was before she admitted she had a problem and decided to get her life together. Where would I be without this addiction that halted the derailing of my train wreck life? Would I just have continued to live that way? With all these character defects and shortcomings that really were always there, but were definitely magnified in my alcoholism? I hate to admit it, but I think the answer would be yes.

God knew I needed a wake up call. He had plans for me and there is no way any of them would be carried out living the way I was. So, now I try to live every day staying close to him and following these steps as guidelines. You know try not to “ruminate” (my new word, thanks Liv!) over things I have no control over. To make my best effort to do my best in the things I can. My very own serenity prayer.

No matter how spoiled the past may be, our future is spotless.

There are so many benefits to living a life of humility. Peace, wisdom, healthier relationships and the respect of others, just to name a few. What if we all tried to practice a little more of that. That whole “it takes a village” thing? Kind of like all those fireman working together. That would be a great village to live in, don’t you think???

So, maybe unpack a little humbleness today and see how it feels. Then try it again tomorrow, and then the next day, and the day after that. Sorry, getting ahead of myself! Let's Do This One Day at a Time. Good ole AA one-liners!

I wrote this song down after we had sang it this past Sunday. I know I know I am always closing with a song. It’s because there are so many times when I am totally immersed in worship with our praise team that I feel like a song was written for me! Of course it was! As much as I wish I could be a part of that praise team, I know I can’t. God gave me a voice that’s for sure, but it came with a caveat: “not to be used for public singing.” There are some things that we are just not meant to do and we have to enjoy watching others do it well. For me that is music (and cheerleading,) but that’s a whole other story! Have a great week!



“Into Marvelous light I’m running

Out of darkness, out of shame,

Through the cross you ARE the truth

You are the life, you are the way.”

"Marvelous Light" by Charley Hall


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