Conduct: The Way of the Wise

As a child in elementary school, I dreaded the day we received our six week report card. As the end of the school day approached, the teacher took the stack of manila envelopes sitting neatly on her desk, and passed the accursed cards out to each pupil. Terror struck my heart, fearing what may be my last few moments of freedom from being grounded. Maybe mom and dad will let me choose what I can be grounded from this time…like riding my bike. After all, I never ride it in the winter.
 I wasn’t afraid of grades so much. I had my folks convinced that my teacher despised me, and only liked the girls in my class. (Teachers pets, I loathed them when the teacher made over them.) My fear was, at the top of the card was the little boxes for conduct and effort. If an S was in those boxes, I’m good to go for six more weeks. If a U was there, oh brother, the kiss of death. S meant satisfactory, U meant Unsatisfactory, or for me…unhappiness.
Looking back on those days is now humorous, and also revealing. I started a pattern of behavior as a child that carried me into my upper childhood years…my late forties. Good conduct was not my forte, especially while I was drinking. Boistrous and overbearing was my address, I needed to be the center of attention. No amount of advice to “chill” was any concern of mine. Mind your own business, jerk. I didn’t like criticism from nobody.
That did take a dramatic turn when I entered AA in humility, broken, beaten, and with a huge U on the report card of life. Working to improve my behavior has been an ongoing goal being clean and sober. The first of the twelve steps to recovery, was a mirror I had to look into, that reflected the truth about me. I was powerless over alcohol, my life had become unmanagable. This began a new way of living for me. I heard someone in recovery say, you can’t think your way into a new way of living…but you can live your way into a new way of thinking. I found this to be true.
The people in AA/NA, and Celebrate Recovery, taught me that growing up into adulthood is good for me at any age. It is true. I was when I accepted this truth, and began to look deeply into what scripture had to say about how I conduct myself, that God then had something He could work with in me.
“But you know better now, so make sure it’s all gone for good; bad temper, irritability, meaness, profanity, dirty talk. Don’t lie to one another. You’re done with that old life. It’s like a dirty set of clothes you have stripped off and put in the fire.” Col.3:8-9 msg
That is truth. Old behaviors and actions had to die in me. Some of those were easy to kill, some are still kicking and screaming to live through me. Though the physical part of me wants it’s way, too bad, the spiritual me must thrive. I cannot even think of trying to cease from inihilating the sin nature to conform to Christ. It hurts, it can be terrifying, looking at that manila envelope handed to me by the Teacher, revealing my sin, and shortcomings. Life is found from dying to self. Confidence and faith is discovered in conducting my life in the light of the Word of Truth.
“So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you; compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline, even temper, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive quickly and completely as Christ forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love”… Col. 3:12-14 msg
I know I have a way to go, but this is the way of joy, peace, and happiness. I didn’t think so, conduct cannot have that much of an effect on my experiencing joyous living, but it really does. Read over these passages, and see how you conduct yourself. Putting yourself first, always blaming others and happenstance, having to be right, can only bring a life of misery, addictions, and seclusion for your life. Conduct really matters.
Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all. Keith

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