Sunday Sundries … How It Works …
It is Sunday. And it was bitterly cold out. We are sitting at (-11c/-21c w.c.) It has been cold all weekend, but today the winds whipped up and brought a new chill to the air.
Today was one of those days where I was bored off my rocker. I can only sit in front of this box and twitter my thumbs, for so long. I check my mail, I visit my reads, not many of them post on a Sunday, so that is a bust. I don’t usually Tumble during the day, I save that for my nighttime schedule.
I tried to nap on and off and that did not go very well. Hubby has been wheezing and puffing for the last couple of days, and I am trying to avoid catching whatever he has…
Finally around 3 I decided to take a shower and get dressed which put me ready to roll well before I needed to go. And I left the house around twenty to five which put me at the church early. I beat our coffee man – when he came in I was sorting out chairs and tables. And we had the room ready to go by 5:15.
We sat a full house and then some. I heard through the grapevine that the 2:30 meeting was packed as well today, because when I got there, they had left out stacks of chairs which I turned around for tonight’s meeting.
Tonight was began reading Chapter 5 from the Big Book, titled, “How it Works.”
From our first days in the program we hear this reading read at almost every meeting that we go to. But how many of us really pay attention to the words as they are read from the podium? Most meetings start out with the Serenity Prayer then move into How It Works … during the preamble of most meetings.
“Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path …”
In the historical stories about A.A and of Bill Wilson, The one word that they would have changed from this reading would have been RARELY… And the new word would have been “NEVER.” But cooler heads prevailed and the word rarely stuck.
The preceding chapters of the Big Book, cover Steps One and Two. Squarely setting us up to move into Step 3. How It Works is the lead up to the text covering Step 3 …
I heard something interesting at the meeting tonight that How it works is just that, it isn’t “why” it works, but How it Works. Much of tonight’s discussion centered around letting go and turning it over.
“Being convinced, we were at Step Three, which is that we decided to turn our will and our lives over to God as we understood him. Just what do we mean by that, and just what do we do?
The first requirement is that we be convinced that any life run on self-will can hardly be a success.”
God as we understood Him. Who is that, why is it God and do I have to believe in God to begin with? Finding a power greater than ourselves is a personal choice. There is no direct mandate that we direct our prayers to God. But in reading How It Works … The text reads: Remember that we deal with alcohol – cunning, baffling, powerful! Without help it is too much for us. But there is One who has all power – that One is God. May you find him now…
That spiritual experience is what we hope you will experience in one shape or another once you come to the meeting and you eventually Come To, and eventually Come To Believe.
How may times have I heard this reading at a meeting? And how often do we let the words, as they are read, to pass in one ear and out the other, without really allowing the words to work their way into our consciousness? How it Works is the guide to staying sober. And every time I hear this read, I am reminded of How it works, not why it works, but How.
It outlines who we are, and what it takes to get sober, in step form. How It Works outlines what we do when we stand in front of a room of alcoholics, and share our experience, strength and hope … Simply … What it was like, what happened and what it is like now.
The reading also tells us, “If you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it, then you are ready to take certain steps.”
Over the years I have worked my steps a number of times. My 4’s and 5’s have not been perfect. They were adequate. I shared these things with my sponsor. A few months ago, I worked through my steps again, for a refresh.
Since I came to this city sober, I left the baggage of my past in another country. Sobriety is not a perfect ride for any of us. And that goes for me as well.
A big mistake I made in early sobriety was that I felt entitled, and I thought that expectations were part of the deal, I mean, I had them, I needed them and I felt like God should grant me them.
How wrong I was.
I also know that I work my steps to the best of my ability. And once again, I must admit that sometimes I feel like I have been sober more than a decade now, and I often think that long term sobriety should become all that is. In my mind I say to myself that I’ve been sober a long time, and that because I’ve been sober that long time, that sobriety should change those things in my life that I have no control over … Like other people.
This is an inside project the longer you stay sober and I must also remember that I am not God, because as soon as I assume God’s authority, I have lost conscious contact with my God.
My sobriety will never be perfect. And that is something that I battle with. I want so bad for a certain sector of my life to be healed, BUT I am powerless over people, places and things. And going into my head – a place an alcoholic should never go alone – I want to get up on a soapbox and rattle some cages and yell at the top of my lungs that “HEY I am sober, Don’t you see me? Love me, be part of me, but this is where I loose my mind on occasion.
I cannot change people. I can only change me. And I am not in control.
How it works … I need to hear this reading at as many meetings as possible. Because I need to be reminded that it is progress rather than perfection.
We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection.
We are all wounded people. In one way or another. I drank like many of my fellows and came to the point of incomprehensible demoralization. There was no way out but through the meetings.
The Big Book was simply written, by simple men, who like us, found that they could not drink like normal men. So they set out to write a book in which we would find commonality, conviviality, comradery, and identity.
And in these pages we would read How They Did It. And for more than seventy years, they have been doing it the same way, with the same words, and the same steps, both men and women alike. If we, just for a moment, believe that like they, we could learn how it works for ourselves.
In time we learn what it means to “Turn it over” and to “Let go and Let God.” it doesn’t come overnight, but the sooner you learn this the lighter the burden gets, when we can step up to prayer and meditation and ask God to take from our shoulders the burden we carry and to help us stay sober one day at a time.
Hundreds of Thousands of alcoholics all over the world have read this book. And they got it and found sobriety. And it all begins with How it Works.
I am human, therefore I am an imperfect being. God is perfect.
In all things. Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.
In scripture it is written, “Be perfect as your heavenly father is perfect!” I don’t know if I will ever be that perfect.
But this thought keeps us on the path.
To be able to begin ones day with prayer. Allowing God control, and to turn it over, and be at peace with that is a tall order. To be of service to my fellows, here at home, at a meeting, on the phone, and with myself, is something I have to practice on a daily basis.
Watching our women get sober and work their steps is amazing. They really get down to the nitty gritty of How It Works. There are no half measures for them. It is true that there is no comparison to how our women do it. Every day, from sun up to sun down. Talking to their sponsors every day, spot checking when necessary, 4’s and 5’s on a regular basis. 6, 7, 8 on a daily basis. 9’s and amends when called for. 10th step every night. And living 11 and 12 on a daily basis.
Our women exude How It Works. They live and breathe these steps.
If you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it, then you are ready to take certain steps…
How many of us men are ready and willing to let go and let God and allow the steps into our lives, without hemming and hawing, and huffing and puffing and making things harder than they need to be?
Alcoholism is a progressive disease. Even getting sober, alcoholism is that entity that sits in the parking lot doing pushups, waiting for us to come outside.
Old Timers tell us these simple words … Don’t Drink, Go to Meetings, and Keep coming back. Because if we stop going to meetings that rat will get back on the wheel and start spinning. Meetings are one way to keep that rat off the wheel.
Watching others get sober, and spending quality time with those people, we get to see how it works come to life in our fellows lives. That is why it is such a grace watching folks get sober. Spend ten plus years in the same rooms, week in and week out, eventually you will witness spiritual experiences. And if you are lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of God, by the by.
What it was like, What happened, and What it is like now.
I love my life. I have everything I need. My needs list is very short. I don’t expect from God, but I listen for God. I’ve learned how to do that over the last eleven years. I have good friends. People are happy to share the same space with me.
Today, case in point, one of my friends, came up to me and gave me the biggest hug I have had in a long time. That is a gift of the program.
I don’t know why it works, But I can tell you that it does work. Sobriety is give and take. In order to reap the rewards of sobriety, you have to give up the life you had, in opt for the life you can have if you trust in How It Works.
Life, is a journey. We need meetings like we need water. We must give up our ego in opt for Godliness. We must sacrifice all those things we thought we needed and realize that in God’s time and goodness, we will get everything that we need.
And always end the day with some gratitude.
Because you won’t be truly happy until you can learn to be grateful for something every day. As long as we stay on the path, the only way is up.
A good night was had by all.
More to come, stay tuned …