I noticed a passage in the Big Book today I'd not paid attention to before--or at least a sentence. It says:
We went back through our lives. Nothing counted but thoroughness and honesty. When we were finished we considered it carefully. The first thing apparent was that this world and its people were often quite wrong. To conclude that others were wrong was as far as most of us ever got. The usual outcome was that people continued to wrong us and we stayed sore. Sometimes it was remorse and then we were sore at ourselves. But the more we fought and tried to have our own way, the worse matters got. As in war, the victor only seemed to win. Our moments of triumph were short-lived. (Alcoholics Anonymous, pages 65-66)
The sentence that grabbed me is, "As in war, the victor only seemed to win." In the middle of political frays, I can't help but see a parallel. Sometimes coming in a close second means a lot more than coming in first, when the victory was "supposed" to be larger. It happens in personal relationships, of course. When one person tromps all over another person, they appear to have won whatever contest was being fought, but in destroying the other person, the "victor" may be so guilt-ridden it destroys them. That's what's being talked about here, isn't it? At least in part. We're determined to be vindicated. And that superior position will be ours no matter what it may do to the other person. Or, of course, to us!
What does victory mean? Well, it can be defeating another, or it can mean success in a struggle against difficulties or an obstacle. The definition of "struggle" starts talking about forceful or violent efforts. That doesn't sound real pleasant, though I like that definition of victory better than the first. The one I like best is the state of having triumphed. "Triumph" started out as a Roman general riding into the city and receiving honors. Neat bit of trivia, huh? But the last sentence of the quote from the Big Book says the honor-giving doesn't last long.
"We stayed sore." At others or at ourselves. That doesn't feel like a victory, does it? So, what does victory feel like? The passage goes on soon to one more often quoted, "For when harboring such feeling we shut ourselves off from the sunlight of the Spirit." That's what victory ought to feel like. Sunlight. Of the Spirit on my spirit! The Spirit's sunshine warming me up. Neat. I may not feel like I need warming up when it gets 110 outside here in Texas, but I've been cold for months, probably a result of the metabolic changes as my body adjusts to loss of insulation. Being warm feels REALLY GOOD these days. I'd rather have God's Spirit warming my spirit than any kind of one-ups-man-ship over ANYBODY.
If doing step four with thoroughness and honesty will give me that kind of warmth through and through, on with the honesty! Who else can I come up with that I resent? What other fears do I have? Come, walk into Rome with me, and receive the honors for a job well done, and with all of us walking in together, the triumph will be shared and radiate and be long-lived.
Have you worked step four thoroughly? Could you do it better for the sunshine of the Spirit?