This week’s HTYH is a continuation of Tim’s story: My mother was a friend of Alcoholics Anonymous because she took my biological father to A.A. meetings in the 1940s and 50s. She advised me to get a sponsor and stay away from A.A. women. I only listened to half of her advice, but I did get a sponsor that first night. He gave me some things to do, he asked me to read A.A.’s 12 Traditions at the start of the meeting. I didn’t want to read and told him to ask somebody else. He gave me what’s called “The Look.” He said, “Tim, these traditions are going to be your first lesson in Alcoholics Anonymous.” I learned that night to never say no to A.A. No matter the request, our answer is yes, that was actually my first lesson and that’s all we really need to know for recovery. He said, “See those folding chairs, put them away. See those ashtrays, they need emptied and washed.” “If you see any paper laying around, throw it away, and I want you to read one page in the Big Book each day, but only one page, read it as many times as you need to understand it, but don’t turn that page until the next day.” And after reading one page at a time for the next 164 days, you will know a little bit about Alcoholics Anonymous. And I want you to rediscover two important words that your mother taught you. At the beginning of each day get down on your knees and say, ”Please, God help me stay sober today” and at the end of the day if you didn’t drink alcohol say, “Thanks.” My mother had indeed taught me those words when I was a little boy, but I forgot them. She called them “magic words.” She used to say, “What are the magic words Timmy?” At that time I had no idea how much magic those words held until I came to A.A. and has taught me to say them to God every morning and evening.
That first night, my sponsor asked me a key question, “Do you want what I have and are you willing to go to any length to get it? I asked him, “What is it you have that I need?” He drove a brand new Oldsmobile, wore a Rolex watch, a new suit and his wife had the greenest eyes I’ve ever seen. Did I want what he had? You bet, but what he meant was sobriety, not his things. I wanted to know what page in the Big Book promised me a new car, Rolex watch, suit and green-eyed girl. It’s not a new person’s reasonability to know what they need at their first meeting, but it is my responsibility to have good sobriety so that I have what they need. I’m pretty certain Dr. Bob didn’t want what Bill Wilson had, but Bob knew he no longer wanted his untreated chronic alcoholism. And once we understand that we no longer want what we have, we can ask A.A. to help us find a new way of life.
My sponsor started me on the steps and I came to believe that if he was once like me and since he had changed his life, I might be able to change mine too. We knelt down together and said the “Third Step Prayer.” I wasn’t crazy about saying that prayer because I was concerned about what might happen if it worked? My sponsor explained it to me with a penny; on its back it said, “In God We Trust,” that’s A.A.’s Third Step. That step is about surrendering my will and life to God; aligning my will with “His.” Am I willing to trust God’s Will for me? Am I willing to accept a new boss and let Him direct my life? There’s another word on that penny that also comes into play; Liberty. I will know a new freedom, happiness and liberty, one-day-at-a-time. It’s an A.A. paradox; that we must surrendered to win! The Big Book says, “Immediately after the Third Step Prayer we should begin making our Fourth Step list: Made a searching and fearless moral (truth), inventory of ourselves. To be continued.
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