The late Sandy B. was a Marine fighter pilot, forward air traffic controller, credit union lobbyist and a long time member of Alcoholics Anonymous. This week’s HTYH is a continuation of Sandy’s story:
After the Maine Corp discharged me; I had little money, but nevertheless still had a large family to feed. I doubted myself and Alcoholics Anonymous. The long-timers said, “Where else can you go? They said, “Look at all of the sober alcoholics around you; how do you think they stay sober?” A.A. is like a quiz program, the MC says to the contestant, “Behind door number one is ‘alcoholic death’ and behind door number two is living a ‘spiritual life.’ Which door will it be?” Normal people wouldn’t hesitate, but alcoholics say, “Whoa…wait a minute, I have to think about this, do I get a phone call?” The MC says, “Yes you can have a phone call.” So the contestant calls his doctor and asks him, “Doc, how bad is an alcoholic death?” The doctor says, “Horrible, it’s one of the worst deaths any human could suffer.” The contestant says, “Gee, I didn’t think it was that bad and reluctantly chooses door number two.
That’s how it is for alcoholics, we don’t want A.A., but we fear an alcoholic death. There’s no place else for us to go but A.A.!
My sponsor said, “Turn your life over to whoever will take it;” my choices were A.A. or the undertaker. We need not understand spirituality to try it; all that we need to do is follow a few simple suggestions.
After our total surrender to A.A. the only question we need to ask is, “What should I do next?” We ask this question of our sponsor, home group and our Higher Power.
Step Eleven is: “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.” I still wanted to control certain parts of my life; those are the parts that remained unmanageable, but when the pain became great enough, I surrendered those parts too.
Frantically, I waved a white handkerchief above my head and that’s when my life changed. After total, unconditional, surrender we ask, “What should I do next?” We start doing the next right thing and in perfect hindsight, observe the miraculous results. If you are like the rest of us you will be amazed before you are half-way through A.A.’s 12 steps; simply amazed. We are catapulted into another dimension of living that Bill Wilson talked about in the Big Book. We’ve been transformed and taken to a place we never dreamed existed. We arrive there by admitting we were powerless; our lives were unmanageable; coming to believe and trusting God. We start living our lives on a spiritual basis that eventually produces true humility. We get there by serving others; putting their wants and needs before ours. We go outside of ourselves by helping others and that allows space for God to come in and do His wondrous work.
The highest rank we have in Alcoholics Anonymous is, “humble servant.” Most of us start out being big-shots, and work our way up to “humble servant.” Although we’re happier than ever before, we cannot take the credit; all credit goes to God. Men start talking different too, before we bragged about golf scores, our love life, children, promotions, degrees, portfolio’s and etc. but after A.A. our tunes change. It goes something like this, “Oh man, I really messed up Wednesday; lost my temper and had to make amends.” The next guy says, “You messed up, I really messed up, I had to make four amends last week.” The third guy says, “Four amends, that’s nothing, my sponsor made me read the Big Book again.”
After we’re around A.A. awhile we admit our mistakes because we want to improve. A mysterious transformation occurs and instead of never admitting we are wrong; we promptly admit our mistakes.
To be continued.