Donald O'Dell holds a Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary and an undergraduate degree in history from North Texas.
As an ordained United Presbyterian minister, he served as a street gang minister in Trenton, NJ. In addition he had two separate pastorates in Oklahoma, where he also served as Chaplain in a county hospital. He continued to serve smaller congregations after he joined the private sector in business.
Today he enjoys a semi-retired living in North Carolina. He also remains an active in networking with groups and organizations in new thought and critical thinking strategies.
How important is HOW? Short answer: Very!
It was the key to my experience of my Higher Power, whom I call God. I was told in my first months in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) that the key to changing my life was to be Honest, Open-minded, and Willing (HOW). That was the key to learning new skills that would change my life. “After all,” old-timers would tell me, “I will not think myself into a new way of living; I will live myself into a new way of thinking.”
And so it was.
I asked questions about the Twelve Steps of AA. I was very, very concerned about the 3rd Step [Made a decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of God, as I understood Him] – in that I believed it was the crucial step in my recovery. And I was told I was correct. It is the crucial step.
My concern was that I would not do it perfectly or completely enough to really get sober and turn my life around. Again, when I voiced this concern, the old-timers smiled and told me not to think so much. “Don, you’ll do the 3rd Step correctly by doing Steps 4-12 for the rest of your life.”
Aha! Finally! That made perfectly good sense to me.
By doing Steps 4-12 my life began to change: My compulsion to drink left me – very quietly, I might add; my willingness to ASK questions and DO the suggested responses I received grew and grew as I went on; my open-mindedness to the experience and hope of all who honestly shared began to guide me more and more; and, voilà, my life got better and better and my thinking, I noticed, was simply following along behind me.
I worked the Steps and, as promised, I had the beginnings of a spiritual awakening along the way. The spiritual awakening is still unfolding almost 30 years later. I am not perfect but I am still a work in progress.
I have used that same approach in my involvement with A Course In Miracles (ACIM). I am working the daily Lessons again. ACIM is divided into three main parts: The Text; The Workbook for Students; and the Manual for Teachers. The Workbook for Students states in its Introduction (italics are mine):
1 A theoretical foundation such as the text provides is necessary as a framework to make the exercises in this workbook meaningful. Yet it is doing the exercises that will make the goal of the course possible. An untrained mind can accomplish nothing. It is the purpose of this workbook to train your mind to think along the lines the text sets forth.
2 The exercises are very simple. They do not require a great deal of time, and it does not matter where you do them. They need no preparation. The training period is one year. The exercises are numbered from 1 to 365….
3 The purpose of the workbook is to train your mind in a systematic way to a different perception of everyone and everything in the world. The exercises are planned to help you generalize the lessons, so that you will understand that each of them is equally applicable to everyone and everything you see….
4 Some of the ideas the workbook presents you will find hard to believe, and others may seem to be quite startling. This does not matter. You are merely asked to apply the ideas as you are directed to do. You are not asked to judge them at all. You are asked only to use them. It is their use that will give them meaning to you, and will show you that they are true.
5 Remember only this; you need not believe the ideas, you need not accept them, and you need not even welcome them. Some of them you may actively resist. None of this will matter, or decrease their efficacy. But do not allow yourself to make exceptions in applying the ideas the workbook contains, and whatever your reactions to the ideas may be, use them. Nothing more than that is required.
For me the message of AA and ACIM is being aware of how the “HOW” and the “DOING” will change my life. My thinking will follow along like a welcome, curious puppy. Perhaps you may consider embarking on the same journey.
As I’ve stated before, “I have to understand, on a visceral level, who the “Me” or “I” really is when I am speaking or thinking. The “I” that says to myself, “I really need a newer, more reliable car” is a different “I” than the one that says to Spirit, “I can’t do this anymore; help me perceive things the way You see them.”
Although these messages are mostly for me, thanks for listening to me and getting to know me – warts and all. As always, feel free to forward this message to your friends, family, and those accompanying you on your spiritual journey.
#3 Mar 2017