“On a chill, rainy afternoon in November 1934, two men sat catercorner at the kitchen table of a brownstone house in Brooklyn, New York. On the white oilcloth-covered table stood a pitcher of pineapple juice, two glasses, and a bottle of gin recently retrieved from its hiding place in the overhead tank of the toilet in the adjacent bathroom.
The visitor, neatly groomed and bright-eyed, smiled gently as his tall, craggy-faced host reached for the bottle and offered him a drink.
“No, thanks,” Ebby said. “I’m not drinking.”
“Not drinking! Why not?” Bill was so surprised that he stopped pouring to look with concern at his old friend, “What’s the matter?”
“I don’t need it anymore,” Ebby replied simply. “I’ve got religion.”
Religion? Damn! For a fleeting moment, Bill wondered about his friend’s sanity. Ebby, after all, was a drinking buddy from way back. Now, apparently, he had gone off the deep end – his alcoholic insanity had become religious insanity!
Bill gulped a slug of gin. Well, dammit, not him. Religion was for the weak, the old, the hopeless; he’d never ‘get religion.’ “ (This is quoted from Ernest Kurtz’s often-quoted paper called “Not-God”…and requoted on page 4 of his book The Spirituality of Imperfection)
Bill eventually got sober (Ebby did not) as he sought a spiritual basis for living that actually accessed the ancient tradition of spiritual imperfection. More interested in questions than answers and teaching a pathway of humility as opposed to perfection – Bill W. eventually helped awaken many of us to this understanding that trying to be perfect is a tragic mistake.
It’s ok. Mistakes happen. What mistakes have you made that you refuse to accept as part and parcel of your human state? Can you try to embrace your mistakes? Laugh a little more, languish a bit less? Both the scriptures and the 12-steps make provision for repair of our mistakes as best we can in our human condition. I am NOT suggesting that we go all crazy and decide all mistakes do not matter. But what I am suggesting is that we get ruthlessly honest about the nature of our mistakes, and proceed to repair in keeping with the damage, not in reaction to our shame monster.