I’m Not OK
God, be merciful to me, a sinner! Luke 18:13
It is generally not our nature to admit need and ask for help. Like the stereotypical male, lost while driving, most of us don’t like to allow others to know that we’re lost. We prefer to present a shiny facade that tells those around us that we have it all together. Our pride prevents us from seeking the help we need. Our pride often keeps us sick.
In my drug addiction, I was desperate to keep my use a secret. I knew I needed help, but I also knew how painful help would be. Getting help meant that others would know and it would mean that I had to go to treatment. So, I attempted to keep up my facade until it shattered for everyone to see. In the humility of my disaster, I finally became willing to admit my need.
In today’s passage, Jesus told the story of a man who admitted his need and humbly turned to God in desperation. In the parable, a Pharisee and a tax collector went to the temple to pray. The tax collector, recognizing his sin, threw himself down, begging God for mercy. If he had any fears about being judged, his fears were well founded. The Pharisee looked down on the tax collector as he loudly thanked God that he was not like this dirty sinner. At this point though, the tax collector didn’t care. Drowning in his failures, he realized nothing mattered more than God’s mercy and grace.
Jesus said that the tax collector went home forgiven that day, while the Pharisee did not. In his pride, the Pharisee couldn’t see his need for God and so, God could do nothing with him. In his humility and acceptance of his need, the tax collector experienced God’s mercy and was transformed by his grace.
The first step in change – and the first of AA’s 12 steps – is admitting our need. If we want things to be different, we must humbly admit that we’re not OK. We must get over our pride and realize there are far more important things than our dignity. God can’t – or rather won’t – do anything with us if we refuse to see our need for change. When we go to him in humility though – God, be merciful to me, a sinner! – He will work with that, showering us with his transforming grace.