Remaining Teachable

Last summer I had just finished a difficult Brazilian jiu-jitsu training session and was hot, sweaty and exhausted. I dragged myself to my car and within a few seconds of starting it up received a text from my mother. She was asking me what all I put into the protein shakes that I make myself routinely in the mornings. Immediately my self-centeredness kicked in and I began thinking to myself, “Why does she want to know what ingredients I use?” I am much younger than she is and in a different time of my life with different requirements than her body has. Additionally, I even thought what bad timing! This is such a bother! She could have picked a more convenient time to ask the question rather than when I was so fatigued. In a huff, I quickly texted her back the ingredients – almond milk, blue berries, bananas, whey protein powder, etc. Within a couple of minutes I received a text back from her saying, “Thank you, I just wanted to make sure that I had all those ingredients ready for you when you come to visit next week.” Ugh.

My natural inclination to assume the worse, to presume to form opinions based on the information my brain feeds me and towards impatience, all combined to form this judgment within me that was WAY off base. She was trying to help and I viewed it as an intrusion. It was like God was sending me a message that maybe I don’t always know – know what others mean, know what’s best for me, or know how to react or respond to different stimuli. It was a great humbling lesson. Since I sobered up in May of 2008 my journey in recovery has been filled with countless lessons like that. And while they may not “feel” great at the time, they are definitely valuable and appreciated in hindsight.

I have the privilege and honor of “teaching” Big Book to both the male and female residents at BRC as well as Spearhead Lodge. I also lead a Big Book study at our house weekly. With so much “teaching” going on, how do I remain teachable? At times it is definitely a challenge because my ego likes to think I “know” but some event or insight invariably brings me back to center. Whether it’s looking at my day during a nightly review, meeting with my sponsor regularly or even reading my inventory to some of the guys I am fortunate to sponsor, it is always a necessary and vital part of staying abstinent and concurrently happy in my experience. Some of the things that I attempt to do on a daily basis do not necessarily bring me good feelings, but they usually bring me a measure of truth which is consistently more important than “feeling good”.

Sharing my struggles and my humanness does not make me less recovered. It actually accomplishes the opposite! It allows me to be transparent and accessible to others. My ego wants me separate – that is where it does its best work. The ability to stay connected to fellow travelers is best achieved through remaining teachable.

Jonathan Stone
BRC Recovery