"I try hard to hold fast to the truth that a full and thankful heart cannot entertain great conceits. When brimming with gratitude, one's heartbeat must surely result in outgoing love, the finest emotion that we can ever know." (Bill W. As Bill Sees It. Pg. 37)

I love this quote. It is a beautiful reminder that gratitude is the fuel for a beautiful life. It helps me remember that my life is nothing I do and everything God does. Love doesn’t begin and end with me. It flows through me out into the world. I am just a channel that St. Francis talks about in the Eleventh Step Prayer. Gratitude keeps my channel open and flowing. Conceit, along with resentment, self-pity, and fear close the channel off and sooner, or later, I’m restless, irritable and discontent wondering what hell happened.

Left to my own devices, I want to take credit for all the good things in my life and blame God and you for the not-so-good stuff. I am grateful today for the feeling I have just enough of everything. Not too much. Not too little. Just enough. I can’t begin to explain how wonderful it feels to not need anything or anybody.

God’s expressions of love take countless forms. With my channel open, I am capable of unimaginable creativity, unbounded happiness and an inner peace beyond all understanding. The more I express gratitude for my life the more life I experience. Certainly prayer and meditation are one way, but there are other expressions of gratitude. A simple, honest, sincere smile to a perfect stranger is an expression of gratitude. These kinds of behaviors come naturally to some, but not for me. I'm definitely a work in progress.

I practice an attitude gratitude because it feels good. Sometimes I forget to practice, but when I catch myself being kind, loving, compassionate and generous. I remember it’s not me. It’s God’s love flowing through me.

Fourth Step Resentments

I had it all backwards. I always thought it was natural to want to be loved, but in AA I learned it is not being loved that matters. It is being loving. I can’t expect to be loving if I am holding resentments. Resentment blocks me from enjoying the full power of God working in my life.

My father was the first name on my resentment list. He was cold, critical and a strong disciplinarian. He pushed me hard to achieve success on his terms and never seemed to be satisfied with my results. I resented him all my life for not loving me the way I thought he should. I drank against the hurt of never being good enough.

It wasn’t until I was confronted with the fourth column on my first Fourth Step, that I could begin to realize my father was spiritually sick just like me. When I saw he was alcoholic –driven by the same demons that drove me — the resentment began to dissolve. I began to develop compassion for his pain and ultimately forgive him. My father did the best he could. Today, without anger distorting my memory, I can focus on the things about him which were positive and loving.

In AA I learned to take responsibility for my life. I no longer blame my father or anyone else for anything that happened to me. I know that somehow every single experience, no matter how painful, is intended for my highest and best good -- to help me grow.