YOU ROCK

Just another traveler on life’s highway hanging out in the slow lane.  It’s quiet.  It’s peaceful.  Beyond the horizon is rest beckoning me.  Green pastures, still waters, my cup overflows.  Surely goodness and mercy will follow me.

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“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 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.”

 

SOBER TODAY – one, two, three

“Admitted we were powerless over alcohol, that our lives had become unmanageable.”

“Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”

“Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God.”

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When I first inserted this graphic, I said to myself, “I can’t use it because it is too blurred.”

Really?  Doesn’t that describe who and what we were in our addictions?  A big blur.  And the word POWERLESS is clear and distinct.  Yes, sometimes the words and pictures unplanned in what we write say more than 1000 words could say.

For some of us the transition from “me in charge” to God in charge was immediate, but for many it was a slow process which had to be renewed every morning, every hour of the day.  One, two, three every day for an extended period of time finally got us to the point where “admitting, believing, and turning it over” were as instinctive as breathing or pumping blood.  How often did we think, “My life wasn’t really that unmanageable?” or, “Maybe I could just drink socially like my buddies do? ” or, “I’ll decide what I turn over to my Higher Power?”

Cunning, baffling, and powerful!  Such is the nature of our disease which will not be satisfied until we are insane or dead.  Our fellowship friends who decided to test the waters of drinking again sometimes returned to reassure us that nothing had changed “out there”.  They were the fortunate ones.  Many never returned.

A recovery is a Godsend.  It is God’s grace giving us a chance to live sober lives.  We should never, ever, assume that we will have more than one opportunity to be victorious over alcohol.  It is not guaranteed.  Not because God is unwilling, but because we are fallible, broken men and women who are powerless over alcohol.

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world peace

larry6Often I wonder if the characters who are portrayed as spiritual stalwarts centuries ago could survive in the madness of today.  Would they be as courageous in the face of modern-day persecution?  Would they be as capable of finding the quietness of contemplation and meditation of which we are so desirous in today’s culture?  My answer is always a resounding “yes”.  Although the connections of social media and news media were not as immediate as that which we have today, I believe the issues were the same and I know from historical accounts that the persecution was extremely horrendous.  The coverage that rolls across our viewing screens continues to depict the unfathomable inhumanity of man against man.  It is historical and it continues to be the ungodly force which defines mankind.

But, I don’t have to live that way or be deterred by hatred and violence in my life’s journey.  You don’t either.  Realizing that the hope for our world lies not in the might of peace enforced by military power or governmental control, but in each individual member of mankind who is determined to live according to the message of ancient and modern mystics by recognizing an indwelling God, some call it Spirit, and God’s directive to love one another as we have been loved.  We are called to replace devotion to self with service to neighbor.  It’s an attainable solution to a worldwide problem which is leading our species to annihilation.

The message of God’s messengers from Buddha to Jesus to St. Francis to Gandhi to Martin Luther King, Jr. has always been social revolution by peaceful resistance to violence.  And that revolution begins with you and with me.  It’s a readily available inside solution to an earth-threatening plague.

And it’s not that difficult.  Many of us in recovery know the power bestowed upon us when we “came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity,” and then, “made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God.”  steps 2 &3, ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS

We were lost in the insanity of addiction much as the world today is lost in the insanity of hatred and violence.  Addiction and hatred are both soul-killers and the cure for both will be found when we turn to the indwelling divinity which does not need to be sought or discovered from outside sources.  It is innate and readily available.  Just “be still and know.” Psalm 46:10

This journey of discovery is a life-time process which I will never do perfectly.  But, I can travel through this experience as a fearless sojourner who relies upon a Higher Power which wants nothing but goodness and mercy for me and for the world in which I live.

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”  Psalm 23:6

Puerto Rico

The news coming from the ruins in Puerto Rico is not encouraging.  Last report which I read says 50 % of the island continues without power, over 200,000 have moved to the mainland.  Hurricane Maria not only devastated the resources of the tropical United States territory, she also brought pain and misery to millions of citizens.  Whether our government’s response has been appropriate and adequate or an abject failure continues to be debated.  However, we do know with certainty that a large segment of humanity, American brothers and sisters, suffer through a long and tedious restoration.

Israel in 722 B.C.E. also suffered a national tragedy with the fall of its Northern Kingdom leading the psalmist to write:

“Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved.” Psalm 80:3CANDLE

Throughout recorded history the world’s peoples have endured unfathomable misery either from natural disasters or man’s depravity.  The Israelites of King David’s time, whether praying to God for relief or cursing God for his anger, acknowledged that a power greater than themselves had the capacity to restore or punish.  We have that same choice today.  Do I pray to God for deliverance or curse God for hardships?  Do I honor God for mercy and goodness or blame God for pain and misery?

Therefore, when I say, “Restore me, God; let your face shine, that I may be saved,” I have chosen to embrace the power of a restorative, compassionate, saving God instead of a vindictive, harsh, wrathful God.  My choice, my free will, has enabled a power greater than myself to enter Larry’s world and perform the miracles of restoration upon a lost and wretched scrap of humanity rescued from the seas of addiction.  Certainly God was waiting in the wings for the opportunity to take center stage, but, Larry had to raise the curtain.

“Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God.” AA, twelve and twelve

It all makes sense.  It is a choice; so, why would anyone choose an angry God over a loving God?   Ultimately, why would anyone choose to live without the comfort and grace of a Father who is readily available to whomever would ask?

“Ask and it shall be given to you; seek and you shall find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7smiley 3

 

self-will run riot

When all the arguments are vented, when all the opinions are expressed, when all the chatter is expended, then is when I look at myself questioningly wondering what all that hullabaloo was about.  Why was so much energy necessary attempting to prove that my version of all things holy is more accurate than yours?  God needs my defense.  I have more insight than you do.  I am more level-headed, more sincere, more open-minded, more knowledgable,  more socially aware than you.  I, I, I,….me, me, me.  It’s like a broken record from the golden oldies.  Only difference today is that the old me does not control my life.  It merely stops by to visit sometimes like a recurring bad dream.

The old me shone brilliantly in the delusions of self-importance relating to religion, politics, society, and philosophy.  The old me sat high atop that bar stool explaining to whomever was unfortunately sitting nearby the theories of a drunk man trying to make himself feel like he truly mattered in the worldly realm.  The old me convinced himself that all the personal problems, the brokenness, the failed relationships, the financial chaos, the self-loathing were the results of friends and family who did not understand me or appreciate me.  The old me drank alcoholically because he was a weary and broken vessel in need of a spiritual fix.  The old me was ‘self-will run riot’.  Then, by the grace of a loving and compassionate Higher Power, the old me found the humility to surrender to a better way, a new way of living.

“Made a decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of God as I understood God.”  Alcoholics Anonymous – step 3CANDLE

“I tell you the truth, no one can see the Kingdom of God unless he is born again.”  John 3:3

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”  Matthew 11:28

Jesus went to his cross a broken and weary man having surrendered to the will of his Father.  The ultimate reality of his sacrifice is that I also must sacrifice, have the willingness to be crucified to the ways of this world in order to realize  a new existence resting in the truth of the One who assumed my weariness and my burdens.  My life today is not measured by worldly victories.  I don’t need to win the arguments anymore because I know that I am a simple messenger carrying the greatest, most important message to mankind.smiley 3