“So our troubles, we think, are basically of our own making. They arise out of ourselves, and the alcoholic is an extreme example of self-will run riot, though he usually doesn’t think so. Above everything, we alcoholics must be rid of this selfishness. We must, or it kills us! God makes that possible. And there often seems no way of entirely getting rid of self without His aid. Many of us had moral and philosophical convictions galore, but we could not live up to them even though we would have liked to. Neither could we reduce our self-centeredness much by wishing or trying on our own power. We had to have God’s help.
This is the how and why of it. First of all, we had to quit playing God. It didn’t work. Next, we decided that hereafter in this drama of life, God was going to be our Director. He is the Principal; we are His agents. He is the Father, and we are His children. Most good ideas are simple, and this concept was the keystone of the new and triumphant arch through which we passed to freedom.
When we sincerely took such a position, all sorts of remarkable things followed. We had a new Employer. Being all powerful, He provided what we needed, if we kept close to Him and performed His work well. Established on such a footing we became less and less interested in ourselves, our little plans and designs. More and more we became interested is seeing what we could contribute to life. As we felt a new power flow in, as we enjoyed peace of mind, as we discovered we could face life successfully, as we became conscious of His presence, we began to lose our fear of today, tomorrow or the hereafter. We were reborn.” – Alcoholics Anonymous, p.62-3.
I used to run this little meeting in Brookline, Massachusetts. It was a Big Book meeting we used to call “Chapter 2.” Chapter 2 in is entitled, “There Is A Solution,” so the point was to give exposure to the spiritual solution and to pull the Steps right out of the Big Book. The format was markedly different than a typical meeting, as the leader would teach and break down the contents of the first 164 pages of what should be described as the AA text book. When I was asked to run the group, I was both nervous and excited. It suddenly became my responsibility to bring to light what seems largely in the dark these days.
I used to say the following prayer each night before starting:
“God, please come into this room. Teach me to love and accept myself that I may love and accept others and do Your work well.“
Sometimes that would work and other times it would not, but it was always up to me. If I let go, there was magic in the room. If I held on, it was like a mild form of torture.
Over the recent past, a fair amount of pressure has been put on me to change, be different, make more money, do this, do that, stop blogging, do this kind of work, stop that kind of work, etc. etc. Yet, I must stay focused on the very thing that got me to where I am today:
Everybody knows that you cannot serve two masters. This is proven to me again and again every time I over-exert my will to force some sort of change or feel as though I need something external to feed me, to be okay, to please others, to be a good person, to be a good man. The truth is that what I need is to always stay close to Him. For people like me, prioritizing spiritual action is essential to my very survival. My relationship with God and Christ comes first before anything.
Since I've recovered and assumed accountability for my own life and worked hard to progress and succeed, I find it less complicated to assess the validity of information and the nature of events because I don’t complicate everything as much anymore or try to intellectualize everything ad nauseam. "Does it make sense?" – that is the only question that must be answered both on a personal and a macro level. For me, my life only makes sense and works properly if I try to stay close to God. Without God as my Director, not only am I lost, but nothing seems to work out. When I try to put anything else first above God, even if it appears to be the most righteous of causes such as pleasing someone close to me, I fail utterly.
All that said, if we continue collectively to sacrifice the very principles that have elevated us out of primitive, morally destitute impoverishment – if we sacrifice our personal and economic freedom, our speech, our thought, our minds and our souls – we will devolve back into Godless animals. Take a second look, because those who we idealistically put up the most simply for their lip service may be the most devilish, power-hungry animals of them all. Worship no one, lest we eventually become enslaved by the temptation of false utopia, underneath which lies the very evils we are all trying to avoid and resist.
God, please keep me close to You today…