One of my worst character flaws is what I call the ‘flip-flopper’ a/k/a chronically changing my mind, when agreeing to do a favor without addressing my calendar, and after I’ve said, “Sure, I can do that.”, finding, I just can’t do what I promised because I didn’t count the cost or take a minute to pause and consider my calendar. In fact, flip flopping extends to my food plan. Here to I have flip flopped with all of my yellow light foods, making them red light and then re-considering that they might not be red light! “I can’t eat rainsins, they trigger me.” Three months later, “Oh, I can have a few raisins in my oatmeal!” I don’t drink coffee, it hurts my stomach and leads to GERD. Then, I flip-flop and “Oh, I can’t give it up, it tastes so good!” Well, I can’t give it up. I need Power and My God HAS Got it.
This flaw is a relative of having very poor boundaries and being a people pleaser. I am like a wave tossed in the ocean. It is uncomfortable for all involved including me. (Is she eating meat today or not? Is she eating sugar and flour today? or not!) And it’s growing more and more clear that it’s fear and self-reliance that drives this character defects. While it’s in step 6 that we address it, name and claim our defects and step 7 that we ask God to remove them, this flip-flopping with deciding what’s in and out of our food plan can’t wait! If you have ever binged on a food, it should be suspect, removed at least till recovered, and then re-introduced with sponsor guidance.
There are so many reasons for being a flip-flopper but I’ll start with the obvious one: Poor Planning. Most people who plan well use a calendar. I have calendars, in my phone and in my computer and even on a wall in my office but I tend to treat my calendar like my grocery list, which I carefully create and then forget on the kitchen counter and remember just as I arrive at the grocery store. Ok, that’s a factor. But could it be the predominant reason for these defects is that I am still relying on myself to plan my life? That won’t work as I don’t know what the future holds. And by the way, in step one, didn’t I admit that my life, not just my food, but my life was unmanagable? So I’m trying something new, praying about everything and simply saying, “Let me pray about that.” or at least, “let me give that some thought!” As opposed to impulsively saying, ‘Sure, I would love to come or That sounds like fun, I’m in!’ Instead, I am learning to pause, take a little time to consider the ramifications and look at my calendar, ponder and pray about everything.
‘No’ is another popular word that other people tend to be more familiar with and have no trouble spitting out in a New York minute. (I love that term as I am a native New Yorker, having lived there for over forty years; I think of myself as one in exile, trying to get back to my home land!) ‘No’ is not a word I like to use very often. ‘Yes’ gets a response of joy (which provides long, rewarding minutes of ego stroking and effective people pleasing which provides me with relief from internal fears) and apparently that was a factor in my over-abundant use of the word. I’m sorry if this steps on your toes, but E-G-O stands for Easing God out and spitting out yes, with regard to my calendar, without praying first is self-reliance, and thus, driven by my ego.
At the same time, I do actually care a lot about people and it’s my delight to be available, helpful and make people happy. But timing is such an important factor for other people and for my own health. And so, it’s so important to pray about everything we do so that we are in God’s timing. In fact, of late, I have to come to believe that everything I own is God’s. I am the steward, only. And my body belongs to HIM as HE is my creator. And so, I ask Him, “What should I eat? Should I include this in my diet?” It’s part of the pause. And finally, my time is His! So I pause and pray at times and say, “I have some free time. How would you like me to spend it? Should I go there? Should I not make this or that trip?” He’s my director, the principle, the boss of my life and I’m thrilled that He cares about the small stuff.
If I make a decision to pause, ponder and pray before making any decisions with regard to my schedule, I would be relying on God and giving Him a chance to lead my decisions about what I am going to do, about what I am going to eat, and about what I am going to be. I don’t want to be a flip-flopper any more! It’s a terrible defect. It’s important for me to say what I mean, mean what I say and of course, don’t say it mean!
I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad. I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character that stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows. Grant me strength as I go from here to do your bidding.
Amen (The Seventh Step Prayer, AA Big Book pg. 76)
Yours, In His Service,
“But he must ask in faith without doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed around by the wind. . . a double minded man is unstable in all his ways. (James 1:6b-8)