Just another traveler on life’s highway hanging out in the slow lane. It’s quiet. It’s peaceful. Beyond the horizon is rest calling my name. Green pastures, still waters, my cup overflows.
What gives you strength? Is it financial security, power, fame, friendships, family, faith? In my conflicted life, it was alcohol. For 17 years I relied on the demons of alcohol and related addictions to give me a sense of security and self-worth. I was strong and fearless facing the challenges of life which most of my family and friends confronted stone-cold sober. I never understood them. Why didn’t they need the same crutches which I used?
As I approach 38 years of sobriety, I still ask myself, “What makes me strong?”
The lyrics from the SIDEWALK PROPHETS answers that question. “Be strong in the Lord.” My strength lies in practicing simple, spiritual principles in my lifestyle guided by faith in the promises presented by the fellowship of other recovering alcoholics.
“We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook on life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.” Alcoholics Anonymous BIG BOOK
Therein is the nugget of truth which frees alcoholics like me. The realization of the promises hinge on putting my faith, finding my strength in the One whom I name Lord of my life. Total surrender. The gift of sobriety, something which eluded me several years even as a non-drinker, was not a matter of exerting personal will power, reading self-help books, following a rigorous jogging routine, listening to preachers and evangelists. No, sobriety happened slowly after a difficult period of ‘not drinking’ and working with others.
The passage from the Big Book goes on to ask if these are extravagant promises. We answer, “We think not,” because we have seen them materialize when we have been willing to work for them. “Work, work, work.”
Another favorite of AAers is a verse from the book of James in Christian scriptures which tells us that “faith without works is dead.” Answers to my questions began to appear when God put those words in perspective. Yes, the good works are necessary. But, the foundation must be faith. I must be strong in the Lord of my understanding. That strength will carry me through times of travail, times of doubt and questioning, times when other sufferers disappoint me. The works keep me busy and out of trouble; the faith gives me reason to continue. How about you? 🙏