“The Twelve-Step program gives us a second chance to grow up; many of us missed the first time around with regard to our emotional lives.”
J. Keith Miller, A Hunger For Healing
I’ve always thought of myself as a boy, and emotionally I often behave like one. When I compare myself to other men it is as if they are in a class above me. I often defer to other men because I still think like a kid. I am only recently starting to see myself as a man and to think like a man, and it is like looking at the world through a new pair of glasses.
Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised, but I am learning that the difference between a boy and a man has nothing to do with age, knowledge, or physical size or strength. For example, there are boys around the world who are smarter than me and know more about certain subjects than I do. There are high school students (heck, junior high students!) who are bigger and stronger than me. And sadly there are many men older than me who behave as childishly as me.
So what does it mean to be a man if it doesn’t mean being bigger, stronger, smarter, or older? I think it must be maturity; maturity is what separates men from boys. And maturity, I think, is simply learned and applied wisdom. When a teenager makes the decision to do homework instead of play video games, we say he made a ‘wise choice’. On the other hand, if he goes out drinking with friends on a Friday night and gets into trouble, we call him foolish and immature. Though I am in my mid-thirties, I behave like a foolish boy more often than not. That is why I am so thankful that the Twelve-Step program is giving me a second chance to mature, to ‘grow up’, by teaching me to learn and apply the wisdom of the Twelve Steps.
And what is the wisdom of the Twelve Steps? I’m glad you asked:
- I am not in charge and I am not in control; God is
- Only God can truly solve my problems
- I must give God control of my will and my life every day
- I must face my sins of omission and commission every day, and I must confess these sins to God, to myself and to another person on a regular basis
- I must adopt an attitude of humility in order to allow God to heal me
- When I harm someone I need to make immediate and appropriate amends
- I must pray daily for the knowledge of God’s will for me and the power to carry that out
- I should help others come to know God in these same ways
If a boy of ten or twelve somehow knew and employed these ways of living, wouldn’t we call him a “fine young man”? I would venture to say that such a boy would be appropriately considered more of a man than many ‘men’ I know.