There but for the grace of god…

I recently was certified in a 360 instrument for my leadership and coaching practice. It’s a different instrument in that it goes deep – and touches on things that have happened in your life that helped “form you” the way you are.

During the certification you’re supposed to share a bit of your life story, and I did with a few people. The 20,000 feet version, but more than I’ve fully shared in years. I probably haven’t told anyone the full-ish chronological version of my life since I last qualified in an Al-Anon meeting. Most likely decades ago.

They cried. I cried. “You’re amazing,” they told me.

“It wasn’t that bad,” I always wanted to respond. To deflect.

This 360 instrument is designed to reveal self-defeating behaviors that limit your leadership (and life) effectiveness. And maybe the underlying beliefs and false assumptions that cause those behaviors. I wasn’t surprised when my “reactive tendencies” peaked on Pleasing and Perfect and Driven. They all come directly from the Church. And the instability and fear I felt as a child. “Besides, if people only knew how much of a recovering perfectionist I am,” I thought. “If they only knew how bad it used to be and how much better it is now.”

But Critical and Arrogance. Those I didn’t like. Even when a fellow coach suggested that my Critical nature most likely saved my life. Over and over and over again.

I wrestled with these character traits. I didn’t like being critical or arrogant. Or being seen as critical or arrogant. I tried to wrap my mind around why I was and how it showed up. And then something dawned on me. I approached the facilitator of the certification program. “Do you have statistics on how this model looks for addicts?” I asked. “Because by all rights, I should have been an addict.”

By all rights I should, or could, have been an addict. There but for the grace of god go I. I forget that.

Last night I was watching a movie, I Smile Back. The main character, played by Sarah Silverman, is a wife and mother…and addict. Her dad left when she was a kid, and the hole that left in her left her wanting. And hurting. And self-medicating. And self-destructing.

I watched, and recognized, her pain. I watched, and knew, her self-loathing. I watched, and ached for, her need to self obliterate. To make it all go away.

And I realized, yet again, there but for the grace of god go I. I have skirted disaster many times in my life. I have avoided self-destruction. I have built a life of love and joy and beauty. I am blessed. I may have worked hard on at least some of it, and I’ve also been graced. Amazingly graced. The angels have watched over me.

There but for the grace of god go I.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, and please share this post with others if it resonates with you!

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