“The wrongest verse” revisited


Proverbs 3:5-6:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and lean not unto your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will direct your paths.

I need to re-think this.

The previous post, “The wrongest verse in the Bible,” was all about me, and its gist is that one must lean unto one’s own understanding.  I’m in a different situation now, and among different people.

From my recent letter to my brothers:

There were 60 of us homeless guys, and 540 “programmers,” clients of the year-long residential drug treatment program.  Given coronavirus, they wanted to commandeer the homeless guys’ space for potential use for quarantine. This pertained to peculiarities of the ventillation system.

On or about 03/28, they shut down the homeless shelter per se, hand-picked 35 of us and moved us into the programmers’ dorms, and set out the remaining 25 to fend for themselves.  It’s been a lonely time for me, as the guys I’d most usually talk with didn’t make the cut.

The programmers’ dorms are excessively neat and clean, I suppose like a boot camp barracks.  Each dorm has a huge-screen TV, a pool table and a weight machine, but all I ever want to do is go online.  These guys have a standard of living that makes it real easy to “forget where you came from” and start feeling entitled.  The guy bunked next to me had a locker full of clothes on hangers, four pairs of shoes and three pillows. All I’ve got is the clothes I’ve got on: I see no point in getting more, that I’ll only give back when this ends.

Every time I turn around, I see another ironing board.

There are jillions of real picky rules, e.g. restrictions on what you can drink where; I should think it makes it hard for these guys to develop autonomy, when all you can think about all the time are these external controls.  The building is extremely complicated, with no simple route from here to there, regardless of where “here” and “there” are.

There are monitors throughout the building showing information people need to know.  Sometimes they display a passage from the Big Book of A.A. or the corresponding text of N.A.  I have been dumbfounded by the wisdom of these texts — and by their implication that the addict needs to completely change his or her understanding.

Sometimes they show a brief video of the much-loved, much-revered Pastor Gary Byers teaching on this passage.

It has taken me weeks to realize that, underneath the superficial excessive orderliness of this place, many of these men bear deep scars, deep wounds.  They have been in and out of prison.  They have lived through horrors.  In many cases, given their conduct as addicts, their families have disowned them.

If infantilism did not lead them into addiction to start with, addiction has plunged them into infantilism now.

I can’t begin to list the dysfunctions that that mentality entails.

If they lean unto their own understanding, bad things happen.

The key may be in the first eight words,

Trust in the Lord with all your heart.

This is tantamount to a Third Step.  I’ve done this all my life.  This may be the beginning of correcting one’s understanding — of developing an understanding that one can lean on.

It’s a growth process, and takes work.  It begins with trust.

A better life is available to you.
If you want it,
and will work for it,
you can have it.

 

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