This week’s HTYH is a continuation of Polly’s story: “Sobriety is God’s gift of grace to chronic alcoholics and what we do with it is our gift to God.” The definition in Webster’s dictionary for grace is: a gift unearned, and that’s what sobriety is to me; an unearned gift. So many people come in and go out the doors of A.A., they receive the gift of grace and then give it back to God, as they walk away before the rest of the miracle can happen; it’s so sad. I’m grateful for the fourth column in my inventory list that allowed me to see my character defects and take full responsibility for them. And after steps five, six, seven, in step eight, I made a list of all the persons I had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all. In step nine, I made direct amends to such people, face-to-face, eye-ball to eye-ball, and it cleared away the wreckage from my awful past. The late Keith Lewis said, “We should say we’re sorry whether we mean it or not and when we do, it takes us one step closer to a “vital spiritual awakening.”


I was told to make my amends and not worry about my feelings. I was a sensitive alcoholic who worried about my feelings, and if I thought doing something would hurt my feelings, I wouldn’t do it. My sponsor said, “It’s not about feelings, it’s about “actions,” do the next “right action” and let your feelings be the result of those actions.

I’ve learned to take action, regardless of my feelings, to act contrary to my feelings. I don’t feel like going to meetings, I do not feel like going to work, working the steps, or sponsoring new people, but I do it anyway and ignore my feelings. The most crucial thing I’ve learned in A.A. is that by doing “right actions” my thoughts eventually change into “right thinking.” We cannot think our way into better actions, but we can “act” our way into “right thinking.” I am no longer ruled by feelings! When I first came to A.A. everything was about “me” and how “I” felt. It’s amazing the changes that can occur when we feel deeply about how others feel, rather than, how we feel.

The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous says, “The main purpose of this book is to find a power greater then us that can solve our problems.” The only real problem solver is God, as we understand Him. Today, my main purpose in life is to be of maximum service to God and others and the Big Book clearly states: I should have constant thoughts about God and other people.

I suffer from a “spiritual malady” and the only way that I can recover from it is to reach out and attempt to help other alcoholics, especially those who still suffer. It’s not about me anymore, and when I turn my thoughts towards others, the magic circle of healing begins. Years ago my Baptist Sunday School said, “We reap what we sow” and they also said, “Whenever, we help others the magic comes back to us ten-fold but I never understood either passage until after I surrendered to A.A. principles.

I came to A.A. on April 11, 1977 and by God’s grace and Alcoholics Anonymous, I’ve not had any alcohol since. The Big Book says, “Great Events will come to pass, that’s the great fact for us all,” and I’m here to tell you my life is full of great events but it’s nevertheless life; life on life’s terms. Somehow, I had a child-like fantasy that life was supposed to be a rose garden; wonderful, warm and fuzzy all the time. Bad things can happen to good people, but facing them with God and A.A. principles is easier than going it alone. Only in hindsight am I able to fully appreciate the “Great Events” that happened in my life since surrendering to A.A. The man who brought me back, half dead, to that Texas Treatment Center became my sponsor. To be continued.

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John Barleycorn

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