Thursday, July 9, 2009

Cup O' Crap

Green taco sauce was poured into the glass's clear water, representing envy. Yellow mustard was fear, vinegar was bitterness, beer represented addictions. We'd started with a glass of pure water, a symbol of the way we begin our lives. As the speaker added one contaminant after another, the demonstration resonated with each of us in the audience: We all start with good intentions. But life gets complicated, and poison is everywhere.

At the time, I was full of vinegar. “Resentment is the 'number one' offender,” says the Big Book [p64]. Bitterness, resentment, anger – these consumed me so I drowned them nightly in vodka. What was I so angry and resentful about? Does it matter? Not if I drink, it doesn't. Whether somebody's offense is “fancied or real,” when I respond to it with unbridled resentment, “the insanity of alcohol returns and I drink again. And with me, to drink is to die.” [p66]

The speaker held up the glass, and its sludgy contents, as an example of an irredeemable life. He produced a pitcher of water and poured it into the already-full glass. Condiments and sauces and tainted water flowed over the sides. When we ask God “to remove our fear and direct our attention to what He would have us be,” [p68] we gradually begin to replace the filth with purity. And when one pitcher of God's grace is not enough, we find that it is endless. The speaker revealed another pitcher, and another, and poured them in turn into the glass in his hand. As he finished, he drank what had become a glass of clean water.

For as long as I can remember, I have owned other people's problems. My therapist has helped me see the “Little Eli” who slaps himself on the forehead when dad yells – if only I'd behaved better, I could have kept everybody happy. And I understand it, and recognize it, but it's wicked hard to actually change an emotional habit. So over the last few weeks as our church's Office Manager Diane has crossed new lines in her selfish battle to keep our church from being healthy, I have consciously and deliberately repeated to myself that this is not my problem.

“This was our course: We realized that the people who wronged us were perhaps spiritually sick. Though we did not like their symptoms and the way these disturbed us, they, like ourselves, were sick too. We asked God to help us show them the same tolerance, pity, and patience that we would cheerfully grant a sick friend.” [p66] I am remembering today that recovery is a spiritual program. I can't disarm my resentments with therapeutic and cognitive work alone. God, fill me with your unending grace. Wash away today's supply of anger and bitterness.


  1. Just your description of the demonstration is so good. I may have to steal that one. :O)
    Thanks for sharing Eli. Thank Him that His mercy is new every morning and His grace is more than enough.

  2. Oh wow. What an illustration Eli! Thanks for sharing! ♥

  3. What an awesome demonstration- thanks for sharing that Eli! Very helpful. I, too, pray to be filled with God's unending grace and ask that he remove all the complicated "stuff," from my being.

  4. Thank you, Eli, for your post. In the SLAA text, in the 3rd Step, it talks about emptying out our cup, so that it can be filled by our Higher Power. Your story was a beautiful reminder of that possibility.

  5. Great post. Nice epiphany. I am hosting the blog carnival this month. Come join in if you would like. hugs, mile 191

  6. WOW!
    I've never seen that one but it definitely clangs like a fire bell when looking at my own life.
    Thank you for sharing this Eli and thank you God for leading me to it, You know I needed it.