“We can be sober in our thinking and participate in God’s effort to love the world.” Miller, 2012, p. 16. As a person in addiction recovery, I’m familiar with the concept of sobriety, but I never connected the idea of sobriety to my thoughts, but it definitely makes sense. The theme of thought sobriety really goes along with everything that I have been learning lately, and that the only person I can change and control is myself (that’s part of twelve step teachings too).
I know many other people know this, but for me it is revolutionary: I can only control myself, I cannot control how others treat me, whether or not they abuse me, or what stories they tell about me behind my back. So instead of fighting back in childish, vindictive and passive-aggressive ways, I can utilize some self-control and choose to respond with love, grace and mercy. The serenity prayer is a huge part of twelve-step meetings, the prayer that says “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference”. I’ve really started appreciating this prayer and praying it much more often.
The truth is that there are plenty of things that I cannot change, things that have happened to me, and I need to accept those things as part of life and then move on. The things that I can change are things that I need to work on changing, and right now one of the things that I am working on changing is my thoughts, because thoughts are very powerful. It takes a lot of wisdom to realize the difference between the things I can and cannot change. Philippians 4:8 also gives a list of guidelines for thought sobriety. “Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditation on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious – the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse”. Philippians 4:8 The Message.
So when someone makes a snide comment toward me I can choose to ignore it and let God take care of it or I can choose to make a big deal out of it and in doing so, act in ways that I shouldn’t. When someone is rude to me I can take it personally or I can realize that their rudeness is their problem, and maybe then I can even muster up some compassion to try to help the rude person have a better day. For me this requires huge changes in my life, I have to purposely change many things in the way that I think. I really wish that this was something I got the concept of before my marriage fell apart, because perhaps things could have been different then.
In my own personal development, I am my own worst enemy. It is time to change that.
Miller, D 2012 ‘Storyline 2.0: finding your subplot in God’s story’, Storyline 2.0, Portland, Oregon.