From the BlogMeet Ron

December 1986 Grapevine God Is Picking on Me 

AA Grapevine 

December 1986

God Is Picking on Me 

I get up in the morning, wobble into the bathroom, open the medicine cabinet, take out the toothpaste, and unscrew the cap. The cap falls on the floor.


I lean down, retrieve it, and as I straighten up, guess what! I bang my head on the underside of the basin.

 This makes me drop the cap again. It rolls under the basin. I leave it there. The hell with it.

God is picking on me.

I step in the shower and soap myself from neck to toe. No problem. Then I soap my head face. I drop the soap.

Now I didn’t drop the soap when I could have seen to find it easily, did I? Had to wait until I had soap in my eyes so I couldn’t see it until I slipped on it.

God is picking on me.

You know, this is the way it goes all the time. Red lights see me coming and defeat me at every crossing. The big dump truck lets the other guys by and then pulls out and stays in front of me for the next twenty miles on a road that says “No Passing.” If I’m carrying an armload of items and one drops–you guessed it–it’s the only one that was breakable and was a family keepsake to boot.

God is picking on me.

So it went until one day a fellow member of AA pointed out (rather tartly) that my attitude really stemmed from two character defects–impatience and lack of gratitude. I put up a good show of listening and answered with a barely audible, “Uh huh.” I had heard this from that same fellow member before. . .and before. . .and before.

Could it possibly be that the fellow AA member had a point? Was I allowing petty irritations to sap my enjoyment of a life in which I really had much to be thankful for?

I began to think seriously about the problem.

Although I had been in AA for many years, my gratitude was sort of a dusty volume in my mental library–something I took off the shelf and referred to at AA meetings–but not anything I used in my daily living. Little irritations were nipping at me constantly, while my gratitude gathered dust on the shelf. Perhaps I should do something about gratitude.

I hated to admit that my fellow AA member might be right. You see, the fellow member was my wife.

But be that as it may, if I could make myself actively conscious of the things I had to be grateful for, I might be able to increase my own enjoyment of life.

So thinking, I sat down with a pencil and yellow pad and started listing all the good things that had happened to me in life that were pure gifts–meaning that I was in no way responsible for them. Three hours later I had filled two pages, single spaced.

What kind of things were they? Born in the freshest and best country in the world, with no physical or mental handicaps and with wise and loving parents. In my business life, the chance remark of a friend, a shortage of funds at home, and the unexpected departure of two people above me, all of which conspired at different times to greatly further my career. Normal, healthy children, stepchildren, and grandchildren, and a happy marriage with a wife who also works the principles of AA. Apparently excellent health at the age of 74, with no serious physical injury to myself or others during the drinking days. Previous exposure to AA, so that I knew where to go when I needed help.

This is only a small sample of the list, but I am sure you get the idea. None of these benefits resulted from my own actions; they were outright gifts.

But unfortunately for me, merely having knowledge of these gifts does not make me use that knowledge. I have learned that for me, being aware of AA Steps, slogans, and principles is not enough to make me practice them. They just lie there–unless I devise some system that forces me to apply what I have learned.

In this case, the system for maintaining constant awareness of these gifts in the forefront of my consciousness was to include a sampling of them in my nightly prayer of thanks, picking three or four specific ones each eight and giving thanks for them.

My theory was that the daily annoyances, or even a major tragedy, would fall into perspective when thrown against a 180 degree backdrop of blessings. If I could be actively aware of all the breaks and good things God has given me, I could learn to improve my reaction to the petty setbacks–or even the serious ones.

I should like to tell you that this exercise has made me a paragon of sweetness and light, but that would hardly be observing the honesty part of the program.

What has happened is even more intriguing. Trying to God’s gifts in my active consciousness has me an almost detached observer of my own behavior. The negative happenings no longer rankle inside me. Instead the negative event becomes a single incident and not a conspiracy to thwart me. I find myself sort of stepping back and saying, “Let’s see how this guy is going to handle himself.” This brief detachment, seems to stall the emotional cycle that leads to self-pity and assumed martyrdom. Since I claim to be a very logical person, I can sometimes even enjoy a bit of wry humor at my own behavior in reacting so illogically, against the weight of evidence.

So what can I conclude from all of this?

Using the active knowledge of God’s gifts as a conscious daily tool has not made a saint of me–or even a Pollyanna. I still get sore at the 25-mile-an-hour clod who bumbles down the middle of the road in a 55-mile-an-hour zone.

But it has changed the setbacks in life, both major and minor, from evidence of a conspiracy to unrelated incidents. It has enabled me (at least some of the time) to view them pragmatically and as merely flotsam on a tide of gratitude.

It has made each day far happier than before.

Vero Beach, Florida

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