Clean and serene in a crazy world
“Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.” ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS step 3, pg 59 in How it Works.
When was the last time you read those words or listened to them recited at a meeting of other recovering alcoholics? Do we understand fully the significance of this life-saving concept which gave us the credentials to be a part of God’s family even after years of separation and denial ?
At my 1st AA meeting I was scared, I was sick, I was morally and spiritually bankrupt. I knew I was going to die either by a black-out car wreck or by suicide. My personal life was a disaster and my job was in jeopardy. Most of my friends abandoned me, a few stood by me, but all knew that Larry was a sick puppy. All except Larry.
You see, Larry had learned to play the game. I’m talking about that mind game we alcoholics master at some point in our drinking careers. I had my list of scapegoats lined up to cover every conceivable mishap in my life. I conned, connived, and lied my way through the car wrecks, the lost jobs, the broken relationships, the days of alcohol-induced sickness. In the end days of my drinking I truly believed my own cons. Finally, reaching out to mental health services at the hospital in desperation, the psychologist assigned to me listened to my con for one minute before asking, “How much do you drink?”
My surrender was immediate because I was sick of being sick. I replied, “A few beers once in a while,” but I knew then in the psychologist’s office that the only person I had been conning all this time was me.
“My name is Larry, and I’m an alcoholic,” I announced at my 1st AA meeting.
There, I had done it. For the first time in many years I got honest with myself. And then I listened. I tried to convince myself that I was not as bad as they were. But, I found myself relating to what they were saying and agreeing, “Yeah, I did that, too. That’s me.”
Someone talked about God and I freaked. “You don’t really believe that stuff, do you? There is no God. Intelligent people don’t need God. I sure as hell don’t need God.”
A fellow at the end of the table quietly responded, “And look where that got you. You’re sitting in a room at a table with a bunch of drunks.”
Again, that moment of surrender. “OK, OK, you’re right. Maybe I’m not as smart as I thought I was. I’ll listen to your stories about God.”
And so it began, my journey in sobriety. The God of my understanding was nothing like the God of my childhood which had burdened me with guilt and shame for 34 years of my life. It was a unique feeling, a devotion which I had never before experienced, this God of my understanding. What an amazing concept!
Today I celebrate that I am no longer excluded from a worshipful relationship with a higher power just because I don’t profess the ‘right’ God according to other people. I no longer feel unworthy just because I’m a broken man trying to be a better man. I no longer feel condemned to hell just because I’m not convinced by their idea of heaven.
Are you in love with sobriety? I am. Do you remember your first meeting? I do. Amazing, isn’t it, that we should be loved so much by a God of our understanding?
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Thy will, not mine, be done.”