The purpose of a slogan is to remind you of something powerful and true, but in such a simple and memorable way that it can pop into your head in a crisis. Alcoholics Anonymous members make use of slogans that are so profound yet so deceptively simple that they can be a great help whether or not you struggle with addiction. Here are some of the best.
1. Progress not perfection
Expecting perfection of yourself is at once extremely prideful and certain to set you up for failure. After all, Lucifer’s first lie was trying to convince us that we could be “like God” of our own power. If we are ever to be perfect, it won’t be in this life, so instead of trying (and failing) to be perfect, let’s focus on just not going backward. Even an inch of progress is better than grand expectations that are never realized.
But in the effort to keep pride at bay, keep in mind…
2. Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less
Humility doesn’t mean thinking of yourself as the most rotten human being ever to walk this Earth. That’s actually pride too, since this attitude elevates you, making you out to be oh-so-much bigger and badder than sinners of the ordinary sort, special in the scope of your evilness. Neither is it right to make light of sin, of course, but the truly humble person acknowledges his failings, and then turns toward the true task at hand: doing the will of God, by forgetting himself, and loving, which is always a turning outward.
When the idea of living a life of such unselfishness is daunting, remember…
3. Just for today/One day at a time
We don’t have to commit today to being great and holy saints our whole lives—we just have to commit to trying to love God this day, or if that’s too much, this hour. Or this minute. God will help us moment by moment. We need to take small steps, or we’ll be overwhelmed. “Sufficient for the day is its own evil,” Christ tells us. Trying to do God’s will in the present moment is as much as the greatest saint ever did.
If even committing to do God’s will for the next two minutes feels like it’s going to end in frustration and failure, don’t forget…
4. Willingness is the key
Life is daunting. It’s horribly complicated and requires incredible sacrifices, and the stakes couldn’t be higher. But God, who has asked so much of us, has rolled everything up into one very small, very simple, request: that we just want to do good. If you can say to him, like the man whose son had an unclean spirit, “I do believe, help my unbelief” (Mark 9 17-25), you are doing God’s will. If you only want to believe, and want to open your will to Him, He will pour a torrent of grace into that crack. That part is up to Him. We just have to be willing. And if even the wanting and the willing is lacking, leave that to Him too, with the prayer, “Lord, make me want to want to love you.”
Making an act of the will to ask God into your heart might feel inauthentic. Thank God that…
5. Feelings are not facts
Maybe you feel loving, and full of faith, and maybe you don’t. Maybe you don’t feel that God loves you, or that He will help you, or even that He is paying attention. Well, feelings are not facts. When your feelings don’t line up with what you know to be true, set your teeth, and keep doing what you know to be right. It’s what you do that counts, no matter how you feel about it.
And finally, if your emotions are screaming so loud you can’t think straight…
6. When all else fails, follow directions
To an alcoholic, this means to hold fast to the 12 steps of recovery, regardless of conflicting emotional tugs. The steps are there so that you don’t have to try to figure out for yourself what to do when you are weakest. To a sinner, this means follow the directions of the Church: Obey the precepts of the Church, receive the sacraments as much as you can, and trust that even if you don’t think it’s helping, it is. God knows how impaired our judgment is, and how weak our love, and gives us clear and simple guidelines to keep us on the right track. Obey the Church—She won’t lead you wrong.