Most of us would LOVE to be judged by our intentions rather than our actions, but due to the laws of nature, that’s just not the way it works, and it never will. No matter how much you wish and hope, your wishes and desires will always have to be manifested into action and expressed through physical movement to become reality. I can’t get into the myriad of ways this proves true, but trust me on this. That’s how it works. And yes, I know I said myriad OF. It just doesn’t make sense to me when I write it without the of, so that’s that.
On the flip side, it’s a wonderful gift that we are NOT judged by our thoughts or intentions, a la Minority Report, because most of us would be in jail, dead, sick, drunk, STD infested, broke, etc. It would be a torrid state of affairs.
After the drink is put down, the battle to quell character defects begins. The perception is that these are to be removed so that YOU suffer less, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg. The best motive for having your character defects removed is so that you can hurt less people and be of better service to more and more people. I’ve found that motive to also produce the best results and the most relief.
As I sat the other day in a battle with one of my “character” defects, I heard my sponsor in my head explaining what these little devils are. Basically character defects are instincts that have exceeded their intended purpose, so they will never be fully removed. If this were to happen there would be no reproduction, everybody would starve, there would be no ambition, etc. You get the point. I wasn’t battling with character defects. I was battling with defects of intention, or impure thoughts.
“Nobody knows where thoughts come from. They just…appear.” Empire Records
That line in that movie made me feel SO much better in early sobriety because for a while, I thought I was sick and bad for thinking bad and sick things. As I sat the other day 10 years later, I still feel bad for having bad thoughts. But like I’ve also heard it said, as long as you don’t let it turn into an infomercial, you’ll be just fine. See the thought, observe it, and get rid of it if need be. You are not the originator of your thoughts but you are most certainly the authority.
This brings us to the line between character defects and impure thoughts. I’m not saying that fantasizing about lust is good, but if it doesn’t ever turn into action, you’ll be just fine. Just like homicidal thoughts can’t land you in jail, thinking of a cake won’t make you fat.
The fear to think comes from the obsession for alcohol as it relates to alcoholism. If this is the case for you and you can’t think of lust or food without acting out, then this post is not addressing you or your other addictive tendencies. You may need some extra help, but for the majority of us in AA for whom alcohol was the main problem, those other thoughts are going to come and go. As a matter of fact, they tend to stick around longer when we beat ourselves up for even having them. Be hard on yourself, but don’t forget what you are. You are a work in progress, and for some of us, that’s as good as it’s gonna get.