Tiny Tim’s Crutch

Tiny Tims Crutch

This time of year, it’s impossible to avoid the literature classic, “A Christmas Carol.” Charles Dickens shows us Ebenezer Scrooge’s introspective redemption process, courtesy of three strategic ghosts who stage a much needed intervention.

And a major character involved in that intervention is that of Tiny Tim, the lame child of Bob Cratchit, Scrooge’s clerk.

In a conversation between Ebenezer and the one of the Ghosts, we are confronted with consequence- and mortality:

Ghost of Christmas Present: “…I see a crutch without an owner, carefully preserved. If these shadows remain unaltered by the future, the child will die.”

Ebenezer Scrooge: “No. Say he’ll be spared.”

Ghost of Christmas Present: “If these shadows remain unaltered by the future, none other of my species will find him here…”

This dialogue examines personal choice, as it dovetails from one year into the next. It challenges us to reflect on our ways, on what is serving us and what is destroying us.

“If these shadows remain unaltered by the future…”

And the presence of the crutch is front and center to that reflection.

Indeed, we first come across Tiny Tim- and his crutch- in the story as he waits for his father…

Tiny Tim: [outside Scrooge’s office] “Merry Christmas, Mister Scrooge.”

Ebenezer Scrooge: “Don’t beg on this corner, boy.”
Tiny Tim: “I’m not begging, Sir. I’m Tim Cratchit. I’m waiting for my father.”

Ebenezer Scrooge: “Tim Cratchit, eh? Well you’ll have a long wait, then, won’t you?”
[he walks off]

The strong presence of the crutch is evident. It represents powerlessness and disease.

And, yes, concerning our recovery, it is further translated into the Twelve Steps…

Step 1. We admitted we were powerless over our addiction – that our lives had become unmanageable.

Like Tiny Tim, we are dependent upon it. Without our crutch, indeed, we’d fall over. And yet, with our crutch, we still find ourselves crippled and limited. If we liken it to mobility issues, our crutch simply does not empower us to walk or run effectively. Yes, it may appear to prop us up. But it doesn’t allow for positive movement beyond that.

Step 2. We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

Step 3. We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

Steps two and three confront our crutch perspective: do we see God in God, or God in our addiction or vice?

It’s not an easy question to answer.

For, let’s face it, our crutch is tangible evidence of an answer, a cure. It is three- dimensional. We can touch it; we can access it. We can lean on it. Therefore, the decision to choose to depend on something unseen over our comfortable, visible remedy, is a daring, scary experiment, rife with insecurity and discomfort. It’s no wonder why we fight this decision- and the ones which follow.

Step 4. We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

Step 5. We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

Step 6. We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

Step 7. We humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

Step 8. We made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

Step 9. We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

Step 10. We continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.

“…I see a crutch without an owner, carefully preserved. If these shadows remain unaltered by the future…”

Steps four through ten address what can happen if we separate crutch from owner. What happens when we make decisions based on our repentant departure from addiction, instead of being fueled by it?

Therefore, the classic work’s “carefully preserved” component reminds us of our addiction crutch’s consequences: wrecked health, ruined relationships, careers and finances, etcetera. These realities drive our need for surrender, change, humility, making amends to others and the newer, lifelong commitment we make to God and to ourselves.

Step 11. We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

Step 12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
Steps eleven and twelve, therefore, round things out, focusing on that imperfect, yet still real commitment and its daily practice in our lives. These steps, again, recalibrate our attention from our addiction-shaped idol to that of a real God, playing a real part in our lives.

These last steps continue to challenge the role “crutch” dictates. This is hard work; it is a constant presence, begging our decisions concerning it.

Will we choose it?

What will we choose concerning it?

Will God be God?

Will our crutch be God instead?

And, with that being said, let’s again return to the dialogue between Tiny Tim and Scrooge…

Ebenezer Scrooge: “Don’t beg on this corner, boy.”

Tiny Tim: “I’m not begging, Sir. I’m Tim Cratchit. I’m waiting for my father.”

Again, this waiting of Tiny Tim illustrates our reality concerning the Most High God and addiction issues…

“Truly my soul waiteth upon God: from him cometh my salvation.” Psalms 62:1

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart; and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

Our own understanding equals our crutch?

So, yes, again, it comes back to choice.

The crutch, indeed, is ever-present. And, in its presence, a decision is asked of us…

“If these shadows remain unaltered by the future…”
It’s there, each day of the year, each year of our lives.


Or changed?

Sheryle Cruse bio