You never know, when the subject of Faith and God will arise.
Earlier today, I got a call from my Friday driver, to say he was going to make a 12 step call on the way to the meeting, and if I could take the Metro to the meeting, No Problem.
I met with a sponsee for an hour and made my way uptown for 7 p.m. I got there 10 minutes early. I cranked it out and waited for folks to show up.
Little did I know, that the 12 step call would be for someone I know, from the Monday meeting. This particular man, talks about God, in words and actions that nobody else I know use, in the rooms, across the board.
The other night, he was talking to an old friend, as they shared old war stories between themselves, and he ended up with a crack pipe in his hands, on a two night binge.
Where his faith went, even he does not know…
I sat and listened in, to a conversation, and then I asked him about his faith life, If he had lost his faith, or was he still hanging on to it. From what I had been hearing from him, I just shot into the dark with an idea.
Last night, I listened to several talks from General Conference. Thomas S. Monson, Carol McConkie, and Robert D. Hales. For some strange reason, I was moved to mention General Conference to my friend. I had no idea where he had been, in the way of faith or church, but I began to talk, nonetheless.
I told him what I had seen last night about Prayer, and Community, Service, and Discipleship. He Listened, then offered that he was indeed Investigating.
We had an entire conversation about faith from the L.D.S perspective. A few minutes later, we were sitting there talking, and my phone rang, and it was the Young Elder, who was new to Montreal, calling to say hello and to arrange a meeting with his new companion next week.
Is that ODD or is that GOD ???
I had a thought, I acted on that thought, that led to a familiar conversation, which then was cranked up a notch with a phone call out of the blue, from the last person, I thought would have called me at that very moment.
Tonight, Bill spoke to us, about Higher Power, as We Understand Him. In this reading he talks about the many ways you can find your way, into the program, with very little faith:
“They just don’t realize that faith is never an imperative for A.A. membership; that sobriety can be achieved with an easily acceptable minimum of it, and that our concept of a a Higher Power and God – as we understand Him – afford everyone a nearly unlimited choice of spiritual belief and action.”
This subject is treated in many different ways in A.B.S.I.
In a later writing in the book, Bill comments:
“It does not matter what you choose to believe in, whatever will work for you.” At the end of the page he throws a wrench into the mix by then offering this nugget:
“That in the end, it always comes back round to God.”
Tonight, many of us who have been sitting in that room for years and years have seen people come in, sit down, say NO and Go. They come in, sit down, say NO and Go.
I’ve said it before that God, this three letter word, is the MAJOR stumbling block that prevents MANY people from getting sober. No matter how we couch, frame or talk about the “multitude of choices” one has to believe.
The numbers of people who have come, gone, drank and used again, never came back, or ended up DEAD are very high.
It Boggles the mind to ponder how many people we have seen come and go over the last three years.
They say that words are difficult in the beginning. But we all also agree, that the first simple action we take, leads to more simple actions, which lead to feeling better, which leads to sobriety.
If you cannot pray, to begin with, then say anything. You don’t need rote prayers or words you don’t identify with, and speak them to a God, you may not necessarily believe in, YET …
I have atheist friends who are sober today. And they do just fine.
We all agree that action makes the world go round.
- Making Coffee
- Setting up chairs and tables
- Greeting the Newcomer
- Step Work
- Reading the Big Book
- Thanking the Chair
- Participating in Fellowship
Simple steps of action, that done, over and over, DO LEAD SOMEWHERE.
It is not your word that matters, it is WHAT YOU DO that matters.
When you don’t have words, then do the next right thing. Over and Over again.
This is a program of action. We all agree on that. Once you begin to DO and to ACT, the rest falls in place as long as you stick around, and have an open heart.
When I leave my life open to Heavenly Father, He tends to amaze me in ways that I could not imagine.
I saw Him move in a room tonight.
In closing all I can say is this …
- I am not the center of the universe
- My world does not revolve around my navel
- I have a God of my understanding, and that is great, as long as I remember that
- I am NOT HE ….
AND Acceptance is the answer to ALL my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation – some fact of my life – unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.
NOTHING, absolutely nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake.
Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and my attitudes…
…Acceptance is the key to my relationship with God today. I never just sit and do nothing while waiting for Him to tell me what to do. Rather, I do whatever is in front of me to be done, and I leave the results up to Him; however it turns out, that’s God’s will for me.
This reading should be tacked at all points of view in everybody’s home, no matter who you are, alcoholic or not. It is a reading that I should have used recently, for some of my guys, and most importantly for myself.
I am told, and I tell this to my guys that, it isn’t the destination that matters, it is the journey in between that matters, and will mean something. I heard one of my guys talk about the counter-intuitive nature of the above passage.
In his work, he is sober. But his workmates are not. And the million dollar millennial has stars in his eyes, and is idealistic, and is of the mind, that if he puts in the time, work and talent, that at 35, he is going to be a millionaire, and be able to retire on that yacht in Monaco.
I am afraid, and we are afraid that the end point is nigh, and may not happen, and placing such expectation on God, is folly…
They say that: We make PLANS and GOD laughs …
Acceptance comes, daily. In the moment. Every moment.
I’ve seen people come in, having lost everything, some who have lost some, and even others, who lost nothing, but their self respect and dignity. I watch people come in and have stars in their eyes, and hear them say,
“Well, I’m going to get it all back, just you watch and see…”
And how many of those people recoup their losses on any kind of grand scale ?
Very Few …
You might get sober, and then come to realize that God has bigger and usually better plans for us, than we know ourselves. God’s time, is a long haul proposition.
Waiting for God, is like watching paint dry on a house.
Every time I read this story, or think about acceptance, I get choked up. Tears fall from my eyes, and I feel lamentation, in the worst way.
Mental Illness is serious business.
When I met hubby many years ago, he was ebullient, romantic, sexual, dynamic and young. The early months, of our relationship was filled with things, that have long since disappeared, never to be seen again.
It was good, that, at the time, people were quoting page 417 to me constantly.
Acceptance is the key to all of my problems.
Because when Mental Illness struck us, the man who went into treatment, was NOT the same man who came out the other end. The doctors failed to tell me this truth while it was happening right in front of me.
Talk about Acceptance …
Relationships are built on Love, Trust and Respect. If you commit, you commit. Even before we spoke vows in front of family and friends, shit had happened. Cruel shit, that nobody knows about, to this very day.
Not One Person …
Nobody knows how bad it got. Nobody knows the finer details of what mental illness does to a couple. But I was damned sure that what my family and friends saw, was the best possible vision of a man who survived treatment for Mental Illness. And on that very day, He was the Best Presentable Image of a Whole Man, Body and Soul.
That was the man I married. We were celebrating who HE was, in that moment.
It took me a long time to reconcile who He was, with who He became, through treatment. I kinda felt cheated that I was short changed in the end. But I was committed. Those wedding vows were tested for damned sure, before we even hit that altar.
Acceptance was the key.
It was a very good thing that I was getting sober, and I had at least 15 months in the program, before SHIT hit the FAN. Because it took all of my friends, some serious work, to keep me ON THE BEAM, for the next year of treatment.
I do not regret one day of it. I did the best I could do, given the circumstances. I did everything possible to make hubby comfortable and to care for him, to the best of my abilities. Every Single Day, and I still do, to this day.
I miss the ebullient man he used to be. And every time someone suggests this passage, I get emotional, because I know, to my very core, what this passage means to my life, in a visceral way.
We have two choices in our relationships.
- You can either accept life as it unfolds, knowing you are powerless over many things, and you won’t have all the answers, or
- You run, in the other direction, when life gets tough.
- You either LOVE harder than you have ever loved before, or
- You never love that way ever again …
- That is what makes a marriage, every bit sweeter …
- That you can live up to, and into those vows you speak
Marriage vows are written in a certain way. They are a warning about what may happen to you, when you least expect it, and better be informed as you stand before God, and you commit to your husband/wife/partner/significant other, that you are promising these certain unknowns.
That if they happen, you were once warned.
Running out when shit happens, is not suggested, but many people fail this test, when shit hits the fan. Which is why 417 needs to be plastered in every home on earth.
If you can accept that whatever is going to happen, probably will happen, and that God, in his infinite wisdom, ordains the universe, and that you might not get, that end point filled with expectations, you just might get, whatever God believes we are due …
That is total acceptance.
Friday night I saw some folks I don’t usually see at the Friday meeting. In fact, I haven’t seen either one of them since last September. Not a call, Not a meeting, Nothing …
Saturday I spent time with one of my women I work with. And she told me a story, about one of those men I saw the night prior. Many, Many months ago, our man went to Florida and he used, pissing away 11 years of sobriety … I know, of him, that he stopped coming to meetings for a long time, so long, that I was given his key and his treasury responsibility. He did not call, nor did he talk to me or anyone else in that particular room, for that matter.
Now I know why … He used and came home and isolated and kept a secret. For MONTHS. And I know, from his history, how hard he worked to get sober, quoting the book, like he knew the book, like the back of his hand … He didn’t …
Friday night, he sat next to me, and did not say two words to me all night long. He and my other friend left after the meeting and did not stay to talk.
This is what happens when you stop going to meetings, you stop talking to people, you keep secrets and your sobriety looses its priority.
Sad. That particular meeting did not feed him, like it needed to and he stayed away from meetings that might have fed him and kept him “on the beam.”
But addict for addict and alcoholic for alcoholic, we are going to do what we are going to do, and damn the torpedoes.
**** **** ****
You never know what is going to rise to the surface, when you step into a room.
Tonight’s read talks about:
- Drinking some more.
- Driving Drunk,
- Driving drunk some more.
- Going to a meeting because it meant more for them, rather than for us,
- Coming to realize that “hey, maybe I’m an alcoholic too !”
- Coming, Coming to, and Making a decision …
- Speaking the Third Step Prayer for themselves …
Flooded with Feeling, has been the story of my life for the past good chunk of months. Many of my friends, men and women, are in this mix right now, themselves. The Monday night meeting is a wealth of experience, strength and hope.
The line that stuck out in this story goes like this …
“I just wanted another drink …”
My Momma once said to me that: “You better Never find yourself in jail, because if you do, I will never bail you out, you will be on your own.”
I did listen to some of the advice she gave me, however backhanded that single piece of advice was, when it was delivered. I did, many times, get behind the wheel while intoxicated. And it is a good thing that nobody ever got hurt. Because I was seriously stupid. But what is an alcoholic going to do ?
Nothing stands between us and that next drink …
Happy hour only lasted from 4 to 7. Then you had to go home, change your office clothes for dance clothes, and return for the nightly debauchery. Over and Over and Over.
Until one day, You become a character written about in the Big Book, being that tornado, running ragged, in the life of someone trying to get sober at the same time.
Sadly, I would remain that tornado for three more years, until Todd stepped in and said the word STOP. I am amazed, that all the people I drank with, who got sober, before I did, never said a word to me, while I was IN IT. And to this day, I don’t know why they didn’t try to help me. Because the trajectory of my life would surely have been different, had that actually happened, but didn’t.
Our man, in this story, relates his approach to the Third Step and the Prayer. While on the phone, with the lady friend who took him to his first meeting, he writes that “while on the phone he read the Third Step Prayer to her… then afterwards he returns to the prayer and repeats it to himself.”
When I got sober the first time, I had Todd in my life. And every night, coming to work, the practice was, to turn my life over, every time I crossed the threshold into the bar. I practiced that task every night for two years. I learned how to do that and trusted in the man I was turning my life over to, because I am still alive.
When I got sober the second time, It was just me, and my prayer to God. There was nobody else out there, holding my hand. And let me tell you just how unsure I was of myself, not knowing IF I could TRUST myself alone … IF I could do it RIGHT.
It did not come for a long time, the revelation of Todd and Step Three, being the incarnation of God Himself in my life when I really needed it. I did not make that connection until I began to relate my memoirs on this blog many years ago.
I had seen God, in the flesh. I knew there was a God, all along. I knew the drill. I just did not trust anything that I did, on my own.
But I am getting better at it, today.
Over the years, I’ve watched the men I worked with, who for some, did not necessarily believe in God, how they worked around the Third Step, each for their specific sensibilities. The Friday meeting has been a proving ground for our young people, who also, many of them, could not see past the word God, and got and stayed sober.
Many of them came, stayed a bit, left, and never returned.
Even though we spent years studying the word God, trying to find work around’s to allow the belief in whatever worked until they figured God out for themselves.
Every day, we have an opportunity to learn something new about ourselves.
Do I want a thimble full of God, one day at a time, or
Do I want a bucket full of God, one day at a time ???
And when is it that I realize that I am a drop in the big ocean that is humanity (read: God). And that I am one with ALL that is, because a little of all that is OUT THERE, is within me, and that a little piece of WITHIN ME is one with all that is OUT THERE.
And that, as I live and breathe, the universe out there, knows, before I even utter a single thought, prayer or word …
How amazing is that ???
Why, at this particular point in history, has God chosen to communicate His healing grace to so many of us ? Every aspect of this global unfoldment can be related to a single crucial word. The word is “communication.” There has been a life saving communication among ourselves, with the world around us, and with God.
From the beginning, communication in A.A. has been no ordinary transmission of helpful ideas and attitudes. Because of our kinship in suffering, and because our common means of deliverance are effective for ourselves only when constantly carried to others, our channels of contact have always been charged with the language of the heart.
There is a reason that the Friday night meeting is the BEST meeting of the week. There are times when the depth of gratitude appears and we are reminded just how lucky was all are to be sitting together in a darkened room for an hour.
They say that the opposite of addiction is not recovery, but CONNECTION.
We all need someone in our lives to stand in our corner and cheer for us. We all need that one particular friend, who is going to show us love and encourage us to step out of our boxes and expand to meet the world head on when we get clean and sober.
The words Gratitude, Silence, God and Rooms came up in discussion.
Another friend spoke about how scientists found Seven planets orbiting a cool dwarf star, Trappist One, some 39 light years from Earth. And if we can prove LIFE on another world, in the coming decades, that is going to blow all of our socks off and change the face of humanity as we know it.
I talked about silence. And how important Silence is to me. I also talked about “The Spirituality of Imperfection,” a book that is making the rounds with the men I work with. And just how important that book is, in teaching us to be spiritually aware, connected to God and connected to one another.
One of the things I think, is important in the lives of my men, is that we learn how to pump GOOD into the world. To ourselves, to our spouses, to our friends, and also to the people we work with on a daily basis.
Pumping good into the world, just for the sake of it, is not the goal here, but for us to engage our fellows with communication that may, one day, come back to us …
Juan works with our young millennial who is stuck in tunnel vision which I wrote about a few days ago. Juan’s job is to pump as much good into his young friend, that one day, he might sit in his office, and have a moment for himself, maybe a moment of clarity, and walk up to Juan and say … “Remember when you said “this” to me, well I get it now !!!
We need to communicate on many levels every day, with many people. And this is something we work on every day, to engage, polish and hone our messages. Because one day, all that work will come back to us, when we least expect it.
That is why, working with others is crucial for our recoveries. The communication of self worth, faith, love and charity can change a life, in ways we just cannot imagine. Which is why we hone our skills together, so that we can welcome a newcomer and spend precious time with them “showing them the ropes.”
God, is the hardest word to communicate to new folks. As we heard tonight, from one of our young men, who is in rehab here, who came from an evangelical home, who later turned his back on God, and went down the addiction rabbit hole, only now, “Coming to, to finding out, who the God of his understanding is, one day at a time.”
The words, keep coming back are appropriate here, because each day we return for another dose of sobriety, we hear communications and we see God (read:Higher Power) move in the rooms.
When I realized this, early on when I got sober this time, watching other people have spiritual experiences themselves, proved to me that there was something outside of myself that was working on my friends. And I wanted that for myself, so I kept returning to particular meetings, watching my friends get sober.
It was the chase for spiritual experience.
Something I tell people who are new, is the most thrilling aspect of going to meetings. Instead of chasing a buzz or a high, or a drunk, we chase healing, spirituality and in the end, God.
Last week, I got on a bus, traveling from Montreal to Ottawa. That ride, is the most peaceful ride. I can find my seat, usually, two rows from the back, on the right side. I sit down and I sink into my seat knowing I am turning my life over to the driver. And however long it takes us to get from point A to point B, is how long it will take.
I just sit back and enjoy the ride.
The return trip, both times I made this transit, is a quiet ride. The “coming home.” People usually sit quietly, not necessarily listening to music or reading, but it is like, we all know, we are, “returning.” And this ride is almost silent, aside from the bus moving and creaking along.
Last fall, on the way home, we were rewarded for our silence. Because as we entered Downtown Montreal, on the highway, a bright, Rainbow stretched from one side of the city to the other. It was magnificent. Everyone on the bus was stunned by the beauty of God.
What do we do at meetings is, we learn to turn off the chatter in our heads. We learn how to sit still. We learn how to listen. And we learn how to communicate.
And one day, it will happen for you, when you sit in a room and you share from your heart, and someone walks up to you afterwards, and says, “what you said changed my life…”
In the rooms, we expect miracles, because where else can you go and witness the miraculous ?
This is the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. Photographed by a friend of mine who lives in the U.A.E.
The week that I had crossed my first year sober, my addictions counselor asked me a question… She said, “You’ve been sober a year now, what do you want to do for you?”
I really had to think about my answer. In the end I decided that, at age 35, I would go back to school, and complete my studies in a field that I had begun in, when I was only nineteen years old.
I did not make it into ministry through the front door. And a lifetime would go by until the day I reached the point that I would finish my religious studies “in the field.” Almost a decade in studies took place, and I got my two diplomas.
World Religions and Pastoral Ministry …
It was odd, getting sober, in the rooms, AND studying Religion, by the book. I learned about God, by the book. I found Him as real, IN the rooms.
A requirement that we were invited to do was, at each unit of study, in whatever religion that was, we had to in-bed ourselves in that particular faith community. We did not just study the books and go to class, we participated in every religion we studied.
Islam, was a unit of study. The good thing about Concordia University, is that there is a very high population of Muslim students, from all over the world. And in the Hall Building, the university set aside two rooms that are dedicated prayer locations, so that students can come and make their prayers and participate in their own community and not have to leave the university while they are there.
I have Muslim friends. I am intimately familiar with the Muslim population here in the city, mainly because of my participation in the Muslim community when I was a student.
For many Friday’s, I attended Friday Prayers with my fellow students, both men and women. Those first few years, after coming to Montreal, I had to find my own footing. politically, mentally, and spiritually. The many faith-based communities helped me find my way.
The way people hate so hard is common, around the world, no matter where you come from. In my case, it began at home. I learned how to hate hard by my parents.
Thankfully, I never hated that hard in my life.
People tend to hate what they don’t know, it is easier to hate, then expanding their minds to learn about others, so that understanding is possible.
In the United States, Americans live in a predominantly Judaeo-Christian society. What did we know about Islam, for a very long time? I had NO exposure to any other religion than Christianity and Judaism.
I was not introduced to World Religions on a grand scale, until I moved to Montreal.
My father lived in the thought that, He loved his country, fought for his country, and you either loved it or left it. New comers to the states, be they immigrants or religious minorities or religious communities, the “Other” was always viewed with suspicion, as if something “New” had come to supplant what was already there.
The old Judaeo-Christian conquest conflict of East Meets West, Islam is coming to the West to take over the world mentality, is pretty scary to people who grew up in generations past, with all they know of is Christians or Jews, to have to expand to open themselves up to Islam, or Asian religions, or South East Asian religions was preposterous and not to be attempted.
People tend to freak out, as we have seen over the past fifteen years since 9-11.
It is easier to hate everybody and not know why we hate, then to figure out who we hate, and why, and not pigeon-hole Everybody into One Lump Hatred Society.
And by Everybody, I mean that because of some men who choose to do what they did, we hate all Muslims no matter where they come from, because we saw One thing and came away with One opinion. Because we were fed that opinion by the media.
We did not spend any time learning for ourselves what was either True or False.
And the way the media and society spins that hatred is mind-boggling.
And depending on where you live, that hatred is spun into an evangelical frenzy.
Evangelicals are some serious people who believe in a set way of life, with set scriptures and set teachers and believe they have ALL the right answers, no matter what ever info exists to the contrary.
Hatred, in many places, is as potent as Evangelical Frenzy.
Because Hatred that lives in an Evangelical vacuum is seriously dangerous. You cannot teach anyone who lives with evangelical truth or hatred, Anything… Because they know who God is and He is Christian, and nobody is going to teach them anything else, from any other perspective.
God said it, I believe it, that settles it …
I’ve spent a great deal of time studying the Quran. I’ve read it. Learned about it. I have a Quran in my reading library. Islam is part of my life today, because you know, there are Muslim men in the program of recovery here.
Many of them are my friends.
Before you judge ANYONE else based of country of Origin or Origin of Religious faith, take a step back, and think about respect and dignity. Think about their humanity. Think about their families.
You cannot go very far in Montreal, without meeting someone of Muslim faith in any shop, any restaurant, or any service industry, in this city.
The Middle East – all of the Middle East is fraught with serious conflicts.
Middle East religions were not part of educational curriculum when I was a kid in school. That was not introduced until University here in Montreal. Many, MANY people in the West know Nothing about Islam, but for what the media feeds them on any given night from television.
Or from the pulpits of their churches.
And the more evangelical that news presentation, the harder the hate and misunderstanding and misinformation. The harder the media tries to paint ALL of Islam by ONE brush, with ONE vision, and only ONE understanding, what does that do to those who are fed that message ?
They hate as hard as they are fed that message.
Do you know Muslim men and women, Do you know their families ? Are there Muslim citizens living in your community ? Do you know or do you even care ?
Hatred and Islamophobia is alive and well here in Canada. We are not immune to the messages of Hate and Exclusion. Social Media and right leaning news organizations fit that bill very nicely, not to mention the media that comes out of the United States.
You cannot blame ALL of Islam, for the failings of certain specific communities. We should not paint every Muslim man, woman or child with the same brush.
For decades, the Middle East has exploded into calamity. That portion of the world, that is so Steeped in Religious history, is fraught with complications, like I mentioned earlier.
The Powder keg that is the Fertile Crescent has fallen into mass civilization destruction and genocidal death.
Where do all those people go to flee war, killing, death, starvation ???
Europe is on their doorstep. And we all know how that turned out.
For the Christian West, as happened, was the bastion of freedom, of life and of the pursuit of happiness. Why would people NOT come to the West, to seek a better life for their families? And why as we, as Christians, not welcome the refugee ???
I mean, why does the Statue of Liberty stand in that Harbor, welcoming the huddled masses from all over the world.
We have forgotten or refuse to admit, that North America began with people who came from someplace else FIRST…
I mean, do we all get that Jesus was a refugee ? That when he was born, his parents took him from his home and fled to Egypt because of King Herod wanting to kill him ?
Do we all get that Jesus was not a Caucasian white man ? He was of Middle East parentage, and had Middle Eastern looks, and a life spent living in the Middle East, and preaching there as well ?
So why do we hate so hard, when Jesus taught us how to treat each other with Love and Charity ? I don’t get how you hate so hard and believe in a God that taught you what you should do, and in reality, you could not be bothered to accept the “Other” and love and respect them as God has taught you to.
All because they worship God in another form and tradition, and that threatens your safe and sound ideology that does not serve you well.
In fact it makes you hate harder, instead of Loving your neighbor better.
If we loved as hard as many Hate, the world would be another place …
That is what the rooms teach us. How to love ourselves, and each other. And we learn to serve each other, in the least of these on a daily basis.
Lessons the world at large could really benefit from.
Right now, here in Quebec, our Muslim communities have opened their mosques to the public, for us to come and participate in and learn from their community.
Will you participate ?
Hatred is NOT a Christian Value.
In fact it goes against EVERYTHING that Jesus taught us.
The reason so many people hate as hard as they do, is because they listen to only those people who feed that kind of fire. I call it Evangelical Hatred.
Evangelical hatred is much more energetically potent vehicle because God is behind that kind of hate. Gay men, during the AIDS crisis and to this day, suffer that same hatred by many.
Now the world is saturated with this kind of hatred of Islam and the “other.”
Hate everybody, because that’s what we are told to do by those who teach hatred from their pulpits. And all those people, voted for the man, in great numbers, who just banned Muslims from seven specific countries in the Middle East and Africa.
But he did not ban Muslims from countries where the President has business ties.
Hmmm … Business Security comes before National Security.
We cannot live in a world of peace, until we end systemic and evangelical hatred.
Systemic evangelical hatred is poison for the soul.
It tarnishes our souls, and separates us from truth and love.
It pits One God over Another, Allah.
Jesus against the Prophet, Blessed be His holy name.
Religions of the world exist.
And we are all here, because our God created us, and gave us a faith of origin. And what right do we have to be judge, jury and executioner, to say that one religion is the Ultimate Religion, and Truth, and that No Other Religion or Truth will be Listened to, Learned about, OR Accepted as Legitimate.
We sit in the balance of the war between the Christian God of the West versus that Muslim God of the East.
Nobody will win this war … More will die to defend their faith, than will survive it.
Where will you stand in this religious battle for truth ???
Will you love or will you hate ?
God weeps that we have let our world fall into this abyss of conflict.
When it all comes down to LOVE.
My story begins a long time ago, in a nondescript church, with Memere and God.
On that day, she had a conversation with God, and the covenant was made. And for the whole of my life, God was there, running in the background, even if I did not always want Him or see Him.
When we are born, we are given a body, a soul and a spirit. Our bodies, some say, are the temples of God, created in His image, and we should take care of that body, soul and spirit. Because it is the only one we have, and this is not a dress rehearsal, this IS the BIG SHOW.
When we reach the age, where addiction begins, nothing else matters, but the consumption of whatever we are addicted to, unto the bitter end.
I know what Humility is. I have spent an inordinate amount of time seeing where, I had to humble myself before God. And there were those times.
I am a man who desires structure. A man who desires to be with others, and not left on his own. I need that communion with those who participate in my life. I need a steady hand, every day that I live this life. I am nothing without those around me.
For a great portion of my twenties, I craved a new addiction, “Acceptance.” And what ever I had to do to get it, I did it. Not only did I never “find my way into acceptance fully,” it seemed, in retrospect, that “I would never arrive.”
My drinking career did not last that long. But for a very long time, I was abusing myself, disrespecting my body, my soul, and my spirit. And I had turned away from God, because I had forgotten that a covenant existed between God and myself.
If you think you can run your life, for the whole of your life, addicted and abusive, your God-given body, soul, and spirit is polluted.
I heard a friend say that at times, God might take something away, but He also gives something back. And my life, as it was lived, up to today, has been a series of God taking things away, however harsh it may have been, in God’s wisdom, I believe He knew what He was doing.
I had abused my Godly Covenant. I had forgotten.
Human beings are supposed to make it in the world, against all that happens, we are supposed to go out into the world, be fruitful and multiply. Well, I may be fruitful, but I sure as shit did not multiply. Thank God …
In the gay world, we are told we must be fit, sexy, tanned, rich and pretty. We are told that in order to “belong” we must imbibe great alcohol and do great drugs, because that is what we gay boys do. At least that was the message I got in my twenties.
I was fooled into a delusion that took me to the bitter end. Because I was none of those things, but for a few short years. Alcohol is capricious, patient and cunning.
I believe now, that God knew exactly what He was doing all the time.
But at the point where I had humiliated myself in public, drank myself into the ground and sexed myself up to the point that I was going to die because of my actions, God needed to get my attention, once in for all.
The Evangelical crowd believed that AIDS was the Gay’s punishment for sinning and that AIDS was what we earned by sinful behavior. They wanted us to die. And they vehemently encouraged us to die.
God brought me to my knees, in grand fashion. With plague …
He took away my ability to be fruitful and to be sexy and to be sexual. He removed me from that insanity, I thought I really needed, come hell or high water.
In retrospect, Was my sex life all that it was cracked up to be? No…
Only when I drank.
Taking away that part of my life was part of the deal. But God did not leave me, he incarnated and came into my life in human form. Todd came and saved my life.
I was going to learn some humility. And that is exactly what had happened.
I learned over the course of two years, what humility meant, and why it was important.
Humility was necessary to survive. Approval may not come all the time. And we must stand up and know that we are good. That we can be good to ourselves.
HUMILITY — Definition: When your toilet is stopped up with a cup placed backwards in the bowl, and shit and piss fill the bowl and is all over the floor, your job is to get that cup out of the toilet and clean that mess… humility …
We know today, well at least some of us do that:
My belly button is NOT the center of the universe. Therefore I am not the center of the universe.
As long as I was orbiting my sun, my moon and my stars, I was good. As long as that hand was there, and I was not alone, I trusted Todd with my life and I flourished.
We know that time came to an end. I did not know what to do. Honestly, I did not know what to do with myself or how I was going to survive on my own.
I tried for a while, until A.A. asked me to leave and not come back.
Never tell an alcoholic to go away and not come back. Because if you do that, their life becomes your problem.
Once you speak words, you can never take them back.
I had to venture on one last odyssey. God was there, on silent mode. But I had to get to the point that I recognized that I was done abusing myself.
And that night, I got on my knees and humbled myself before God.
And with miraculous Godly power, God moved heaven and earth to bring me back into my covenant.
The rest, I can say, is history. Good history.
The steps are written in a certain order and should begin with the First, through the Twelfth. Because we need to admit, come to, and decide that (God) for me, is the director and I am a servant. Then I need to clean house and throw out the trash.
Only then can we entertain the word Humility. Step Seven is all about humility.
A familiar exercise is to read the Twelve and Twelve and Step Seven, and highlight how many times the word humility appears in that step work.
God giveth and God taketh away …
And I know that I could never have provided myself with what God has given me over the last fifteen years on my own. I was no normal mortal human being who was supposed to go into the world and make it on my own.
I had no idea how that was going to work.
Alcoholics and Addicts in recovery, We Get Our Do Over…
In the rooms we find what we have all been missing. I’ve proved, over the years, that God can be found in the rooms of recovery. I’ve seen Him move among my friends.
And He has moved in my life. Over the years, little by little, God has removed certain things from my life. In order that He might give me something better.
An Empty vessel that can be filled with grace. A Body, Soul, and Spirit that is Clean and Sober, that can flourish and be of service to my fellow-man.
Having lived as long as I have, I surely do not take my life for granted.
People rely on me. They trust me. And they love me. If I took for granted one day, of this covenant that I now inhabit, I would surely lose my life …
A long time ago, I had a conversation with God. And I told him that I was ready to sacrifice my life in order to serve God.
An entire lifetime would go by, until I reached the point where the time was right, the moment had arrived, the ground was fertile, and I was ready to step up and serve God with all that I had.
For me, in order to serve God, in hindsight, required great sacrifice.
It has taken me a lifetime to realize just what that meant.
Tonight a friend reminded me of why we were sitting in that room tonight.
Because God giveth …
Tonight, January 9th …We read, Physician Heal Thyself. A story about Humility. A story about Higher Power, A story about Turning it Over. And this topic that I had written on some time ago, repeats itself. So I present it again.
An old friend came to the meeting tonight. A friend I have known since he came in some time ago, and I had an amends to make to him, because, on a particular night, I stood in front of a meeting, and spoke. It was the first time I had spoken at a meeting in over five years. In retrospect, I was not very sober.
I might have had some time, but on that particular night, I was all over the map. And not seeing this friend since, I have had time to see the past, in the light that I see it now.
Lessons come, but the real nugget only comes in retrospect.
And my friend said to me that he was in the market for a sponsor, that his double digit sponsor was fading away into the air and away from meetings. On the way to the metro the discussion we were having had a sense of urgency to it, incomplete though it was.
Hopefully we will cross paths again.
Juan is set to speak, for the first time in his sober journey at St Matthias on the 26th. I wasn’t sure he would accept, but he did gladly. Its a very important job when you get to do it for the first time. I’ve never heard him tell his story to a room, no one has. But I know his story from our work together over the past two years.
I’ve had some time to regroup, and re-order my life. Now I know, really, at this point, what I want, where I am going, and what I need to do to get there. I’ve made some new contacts in other meetings. I’ve taken on a service position at the Area level for the Friday meeting, which is a two year commitment. I’ve joined the Thursday night meeting, officially, and I chaired the business meeting last week. The Monday Big Book meeting has become part of my regular meeting schedule.
We are off to a good start. Everybody has work to do. We are all ordering our lives accordingly, using new tools, (read: Bullet Journal).
With that I give you … Absolutely, Completely, Thoroughly, Honestly, Redux.
RARELY have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. There are such unfortunates. They are not at fault; they seem to have been born that way. They are naturally incapable of grasping and developing a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty. Their chances are less than average. There are those, too, who suffer from grave emotional and mental disorders, but many of them do recover if they have the capacity to be honest.
Our stories disclose in a general way what we used to be like, what happened, and what we are like now. If you have decided that you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it – then you are ready to take certain steps.
At some of these we balked. We thought that we could find an easier, softer way. But we could not. With all earnestness at our command, we beg of you to be fearless and thorough from the very start. Some of us have tried to hold on to our old ideas and the result was nil until we let go absolutely.
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.
When I arrived at the point that God felt I was ready to work with others, he opened the gates and sent me my troop. And ever since then, I have endeavored to be absolutely, completely, thoroughly, honest. Over the past few days, it has been said that I have kept my troop honest. Which filled my heart with joy overflowing.
There are things we do daily, weekly, and often that keep us on the path to staying honest in all our affairs. Over the past few weeks, we have heard stories, and I have written about them here. The overarching theme lately has been, what happens when we are dishonest, when we keep secrets and when we tell lies.
I can’t repeat often enough, the warnings we are hearing from the chair at speaker meetings. Because now, I listen to my friends talk about their stories, and the varied choices they had made and continue to make, and I utter that prayer …
There but for the Grace of God go I … I could be them !
How it Works, is a staple reading, you hear at almost every meeting, one way or another. It is repetitive, and the words never change. They were written decades ago and are words of wisdom from a bygone era. After hearing this reading read, one too many times, I heard a particular woman, get up and read this passage, slowly, passionately, word for word, slowly, methodically, with a sense of meaning I had not heard before in the past.
There are two types of How It Works Readers…
- The Machine Gun barrage – from beginning to end without a breath
- The Toss it all Together reader – who does not respect the comma or period.
Tonight, we listened to it read at the top of the meeting, and we heard the reading parsed by our speaker tonight.
“Absolutley, Completely, Thoroughly, Honestly”
There comes a time in sobriety, that we think we have this all wrapped up, and we are doing well, and have no fear of that first drink. Scary …
But when the chips are down, and we are against the proverbial wall, are we able to speak to our friends and fellows, and tell them that “maybe we are not doing so well, and that we may be in trouble, and that the outsides might not be congruent with our insides?”
We go into meetings, and we always want to look good on the outside, because we want our fellows to see calm, sober, good looking people. But just beneath the surface, the reality might be that we are not really calm, or sober, or good looking.
Sometimes, we are just not 100%.
The truth is when we are able to say, “I am not okay!”
If we are rooted in honesty, even if it hurts, we can share anything with our friends and sponsors. This is where, secrets and lies, arise. They say, and I heard it again tonight, that “While we are in meetings, our alcoholism is out in the parking lot doing push ups … Waiting patiently for us outside.”
And you never know, when it is going to happen. We begin to keep secrets, and our old alcoholic behavior rears its ugly head. Our old thinking returns, old patterns return, and we slip into old behavior, oh so quietly. And we might not recognize it right away, and if we don’t, we are off to the races.
They tell us that when we hit a slip, that it is premeditated. That often, what starts as an errant thought, becomes an errant action. Time and time again, we listen to stories of people who go back out, and when they return, we hear what happened and what led them back out the door.
Sobriety Looses Its Priority.
What happens when we keep secrets and what happens when we begin telling lies, not to others, but lying to ourselves to begin with? It begins with us, in our heads. If we are not vigilant we can fall into this trap. Secrets and Lies.
It might be simple and innocuous, but after a while, becomes a snowball heading down the mountain at 100 miles per hour.
I sat there tonight, listening to a man tell a story about being sober a LONG time, falling into old behavior, and then he kept a secret and told a few lies, and then ended up in a bar, with not one beer, BUT TWO …
Then follows years of getting stuck in the proverbial revolving door. Our man is one, that I have seen in my time, who collect enough beginner’s chips to tile a bathroom with. He goes to meetings, but is unwilling to get honest. Sponsors turn him away and won’t take him on, because, let’s face it, if we are being honest, if you aren’t in the game, most men or women would not take you on, unless you are ready and willing to get honest, because this is your life/our life we are talking about.
The warning is very stark and very real.
We heard it again tonight, those similar words,
“Please, for the love of God, Do Not Do what I did.”
If you are out there in the room, and you are pondering a slip, or you are in any way feeling squirrely, or you are coming back, please, talk to someone, don’t leave this room with shit on your shoulders.
When I hear stories like this time and time again, I come home and I write them down, then I turn around and speak to my troop about warnings and prevention.
I remind them that this is not a game to be taken lightly. They need to be in the game 100%, and we work tirelessly, to maintain The Work at maximum efficiency.
Winter has not been kind to our numbers. For the last few months, on both the sides of women and men, we have heard how they have battled the bottle in sobriety.
I go to my meetings, and I know my friends, and I get there early enough that I get to spend twenty minutes talking to them. We know who the front row sobriety folks are, and we also know who the back benchers are. Which is why, at certain meetings, we have moved seats forward and off the back wall. We put out more chairs in the room proper, to make sure, everyone is sitting among everybody else.
That is why we stress, at my home groups that, the twenty minutes before and the twenty minutes after are the most important minutes in a meeting, because we get fellowship, phone numbers and friends. Not necessarily in that order.
The warnings have been clear … Absolutely, Completely, Thoroughly, Honestly.
Anything else, is a recipe for certain disaster …
“Accept the Past with No Regrets. Handle the Present with Confidence. Face the Future with No Fear…”
Montreal weather, this week, has been all over the map. A flurry here, some freezing rain there, terribly dangerous conditions ensued. As the rain came to an end on Tuesday, Wednesday, it was warm enough that all that ice melted, not before wreaking havoc on the population.
Last night, clouds began to form from fronts coming from the Great Lakes, and warnings went up for some serious snow to fall. It snowed all day, and into the evening. When all was said and done, there was about 6 to 8 inches of snow on the ground.
Twitter exploded early this evening telling riders of rapid transit, that buses would be running late (read: Or not come at all) because of heavy snowfall.
I listened to Rafa’s advice, so this afternoon, I downloaded the UBER app to my phone and filled in all the info for tonight’s trip.
I told the app where I was, and where I wanted to go. I set up my payment option and hit the “Request UBER.” Within three minutes my driver was at my front door. He actually called me while I was coming down in the elevator to tell me he had arrived.
I will NEVER take another TAXI in Montreal, so long as I live here.
Taxi drivers here in Montreal have been up in arms about UBER operating here and decimating their bottom lines and livelihoods from direct competition.
If there is one dishonest taxi driver out there, there are more, I am sure !
Thank you UBER.
This will be the last post of 2016. I am looking forward to the WordPress end of year report that comes on New Year’s Eve. After a year of writing, I get the specific stats on just how well we did this year in regards to trends, numbers and readers.
God has been very busy this year, taking many of the most important people that entertainment has ever seen, and will never see again.
In 1977, I was TEN years old, ( My apologies ) when Star Wars came to New Britain, Connecticut. The first time we saw Star Wars was at the Twin City Theatres, across the street, from the store my mother worked in when I was a kid. The name escapes me at the moment.
Star Wars has been a HUGE part of my life, for all of my life. I remember when Return of the Jedi came out, And I specifically remember sitting in the theatre, weeping. I had had a spiritual experience, one of many through the franchise of films.
“Help me Obi Wan Kenobi, You’re my only hope ….”
While God is calling home luminaries of stage and screen, there are those who are speaking petitions to the Almighty, to remove certain people off the face of the earth, specifically. By name …
And I have to agree with them.
Death is never a good option, but, while God is doing what He is doing, why not take a few more for good measure !!!
Let Us Pray …
It is crunch time in the rooms of recovery. We’ve been prepping for this weekend for an entire year. making sure our folks have everything that they need, in terms of time and sobriety. And we even have printed worksheets for people to take home with them, along with a copy of Living Sober, for good measure.
Christmas and New Years can be real killers, both Figuratively and Literally.
As is usual, the stats go down through the weekend, and come January 1st, the stats rise and we welcome folks from all over, to the rooms. We’ve worked very hard this season to anchor our men and women in the rooms.
But, in the end, it all comes down to choices.
There are sober places to go on New Year’s Eve, all over the world.
Sober people really know how to throw a good New Years Eve Party. At least we do, here in Montreal. There are several choices one can make here in the city. Nobody has to be alone, or need to drink. You don’t have to be alone.
I thought about writing a retrospective on the past year, but decided against it.
Good Riddance 2016. It was my toughest year in sobriety for many reasons.
In the end, I am still sober and I listened to good advice where necessary
People might have LOTS of years, but some of those men and women, are not very SOBER.
There but for the Grace of God go I.
Let us turn towards goodness, hope and love.
Goodnight, for the last time in 2016.
I thank all of you who have stayed around, for those who read, and for a certain author, of my acquaintance, who LOVES the LIKE button.
You know who you are.
Many words have been written this year.
On Saturday we will see just how many words were written.
Thank You So Much.
It is a new day. And it is the most important day of the year in the United States. I cast my vote by absentee ballot a few weeks ago. My ballot is sitting in the hopper in Miami, to be counted this evening. I am told that the Democrats Abroad organization has a very large number of ballots in play, and hopefully, where they are needed, may swing the vote in our favor.
Let Us Pray …
I met with my spiritual God Mother this morning to talk about life. I told her the story and told her about my spiritual journey. And she, like me, has faced adversity. Just a few weeks ago, she was recovering from quadruple bypass heart surgery.
Them are some big words … Quadruple Bypass Surgery.
She survived. Because, like me, God isn’t finished with her yet. And I am truly grateful that she survived that surgery and that she is still in my life today.
We talked program. And we are both on our respective journeys to find God,and in a way, she gave me permission to “Take a Break.” The rooms are there to help us find our Power Greater Than Ourselves. And provides a Bridge to the outside world.
If you do it right, spiritually, and you do The Work, the good way, in time, it may come to pass that one desires to move outwards into the world. Which we have both begun to do ourselves.
She told me that “If this is where I need to be right now so be it. You don’t know how long you are going to be here, and if you have the time to devote to God, then devote time to God. Pay attention, and go where God leads you.”
I know where I am going.
In every life, whether we know it or not, for every choice, there will be consequences, either good or bad. To begin to Honor God, in all things, one must make the sacrificial decision to step away from all things earthly, to step away from sin, and to turn one’s faith, trust and hope to Heavenly Father.
It has been made clear to me what SACRIFICE means to me.
In this Life Pivot, I trusted that Heavenly Father would point the way to wholeness and righteousness. Trusting in the words and guidance of my Elders, and the many other Elders and Sisters who know me today, I want what they have.
Wanting what they have, is a common litany phrase used in the rooms. Because we come in broken and shattered, and we learn to love, because others showed up just that day, to love US into Existence.
There is a particular Elder who has joined our group of intrepid Latter Day Saints. In fact, there are a few Elders, who minister to the Chinese community, but they join us on Monday night’s for teaching and fellowship. I have come to love them as I love my Elders who came for me.
I am impressed with each and every young man and woman who is part of our little gang of faithful. They have talents I wish I had, they have lives, I wish I could live, and youth that I wish I still had. So every moment spent with them is blessed.
This may be the last chapter of my story. And I want that story to be Grand.
Tonight, I offered the final sacrifice I know I had to make to Heavenly Father. In order to appreciate the sweet, one must have the bitter. I know what bitter tastes like. I may not always make the right choices, but tonight, I did what I had to do to make good on Heavenly Father’s command to “Keep My Commandments.”
If you cannot sacrifice all for Heavenly Father, and turn all of you over to divinity and sacred living, then you will never inherit Eternal Life.
Whatever holds you to your former life, that which tethers you to earth, that which is of the flesh and the body, you must cut it out. Cleanly. You cannot be honest with God and keep secrets in the shadows, because You know, and Heavenly Father knows.
One cannot believe that cheating on the way to Holiness will work. You cannot half ass your way to spiritual living. Because, day by day, YOU know what choices you made, and what sins you have committed. If you approach God with sin in your heart and on your lips, what does that do for your forgiveness and redemption ?
As Nephi writes … “You did not do all you could do.”
I cannot live with the shadow of wrong choices and sin on my shoulders. Because I kn0w better, I cannot claim, ignorance. With that said …
When I get up tomorrow morning, all will be done.
A religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has the power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation; for, from the first existence of man, the faith necessary unto the enjoyment of life and salvation never could be obtained without the sacrifice of all earthly things …. It is through the medium of the sacrifice of all earthly things that men do actually know that they are doing the things that are well pleasing in the sight of God.
When a man has offered in sacrifice all that he has for truth’s sake, not even withholding his life, and believing before God that he has been called to make his sacrifice because he seeks to do his will, he does know, most assuredly, that God does and will accept his sacrifice and offering, and that he has not, nor will not, seek his face in vain…
How It Works says …
IF YOU WANT WHAT WE HAVE AND ARE WILLING TO GO TO ANY LENGTH TO GET IT, THEN, YOU RE READY TO TAKE CERTAIN STEPS. AT SOME OF THESE WE BALKED, WE THOUGHT WE COULD FIND AN EASIER SOFTER WAY BUT WE COULD NOT. WITH ALL THE EARNESTNESS AT OUR COMMAND WE BEG YOU TO BE FEARLESS AND THOROUGH FROM THE VERY START. SOME OF TRIED TO HOLD ON TO OUR OLD IDEAS AND THE RESULT WAS NIL UNTIL WE LET GO ABSOLUTELY…
Wow … I’ve come full circle. Right now, both these reading ring so very true to this journey of faith.
I’m ready to take certain steps. I’ve taken one very huge step tonight.
Later today, I am having lunch with one of my favorite people on the earth.
Forgive my back and forth. I come from a religious tradition that calls the name of God – God. I am still getting used to Heavenly Father, which is why I added a section to this piece, to reflect that understanding and respect for Him.
God is Perfect. God’s timing is perfect. It has taken a lifetime to get here, but I think I have arrived. God is always there. Patiently waiting. Always knowing when we might need Him, even if we don’t always know it at the time. I feel, God has called upon me for this next season. However long that season is.
This is the route He has chosen for me.
You might not know where you are at the moment, but God has a plan for each and every one of us. I don’t know what my plan is, there are some things I do know based on my testimony of faith.
As a young child, Memere introduced me to God, in that big Church we attended together when she had me with her. She took the time, on that one perfect day, to give me to God. It was she that had that intimate conversation with God. At least that is what comfort I take from that memory. She loved me, without a doubt.
She gave me that gift. It is sinful what my father did to her over my lifetime. My father was so hateful and he was a pig. What does a child do, when the two people that should have loved you and gave you Good, Sound, Godly advice, failed in their responsibility to do just that?
Knowing I was coming from a broken home, a home where all my father wanted was for me to, just die already, after spending my lifetime trying to get rid of me, makes me sick.
How did I know what was good for me, when the humans that were charged in making sure I did the right thing, did not care one bit ?
Spending that year in seminary, my second year of college, did teach me some things, in hindsight. In telling this story to my Elders this evening, at the time, I thought that serving God would be the end all and be all of my existence. The seed was there, but the ground was not fertile.
That seminary, might not have been the proper garden for me to flourish, as God wants each of us to flourish. Too many weeds, Too many vines, and WAY too much sin.
There were adults in my life whom I worked for, who were there when I was in the beginning stages of serious alcoholism. Some of those same people are sober today, and got sober, well before I ever hit the rooms. And I wonder, to this day, “Why they didn’t say STOP, or Maybe I had a problem?” True, I wasn’t their responsibility nor their child.
I did not know what I was getting into, when I moved to Orlando. I had a simple plan, nothing too difficult, but it was not too long, before I was way over my head, and nobody knew, cared, or offered any solution to that madness of sex, drugs and alcohol.
Everybody grows up, one way or another. This story life, might have been different, if a change of just a single degree had taken place, on this specific timeline point. Had someone warned me, or spoke to me and given me Good Advice … Not Just
Go to the Bar, have a couple of drinks and see what happens ?
What did I know, I was told, that that was the way in.
I’ve heard many young Mormon men say, in their stories, that they never heard one good word about the gays ! Well that might have been true. I had never met more evil, backstabbing, dishonest people in my life, than some of the men I had interactions with in my time in Orlando. No wonder, I had such a bad time.
Every challenge we have, in hindsight, as the Elders said tonight, was to give us experience with whatever was going on with us, in order to teach us something about our challenges.
I have worked my way out of several challenges in my life. It surely was not on my own that I found my out, it was God.
I said to them that, “I had been to hell several times over…” And the response came back that “Now you know the way out.” You had to have that experience, so that one day, you could turn around and help another human being who might be stuck in the hole you were once in.
You have the way out …
You cannot help someone, if you don’t have the invested experience to share a solution with them.
Mother Teresa once asked Lorna, “How do I help the alcoholics in Calcutta?” Lorna’s reply was a simple question … “Mother Teresa, are you an alcoholic? No, she replied, Then you cannot help them.”
I have a Testimony of Faith. I have had a lifetime of experience, and I can share with you that God does exist. That God is faithful. That God is always there. And I know that when I turned to God, He was there for me.
There were times when I needed God, and I did not necessarily call on the name of God for help, just the same, He came in the guise of someone who played a direct role in my life at one point or another.
God has been good and giving. God has been merciful and kind. I don’t know what God has in store for me right now, but I am spiritually prepared to walk where ever he asks me to go.
I thought, early in my life that the answer to all my problems, was to go and serve God. The Good Men who pushed me through the process of admission believed in me, more than my own family believed in me. In the end, I failed them.
Or was it that the rector of the seminary who had failed them ?
I wasn’t the only seminarian from our home parish to “leave the building.”
I like to say that when I was “On the Beam with God, my life was really good.” And I know, in hindsight, what good feels like. I also know what being “Off the Beam, from God, feels like as well.”
The next time I consciously connected with God, was when I was diagnosed with AIDS in 1994. I’ve never prayed more serious prayers in my life, because this was my life we were talking about. I really did not want to die, because so many people wanted nothing better than for us FAGS to die, because God was punishing us for our sins.
Let me tell you, God had nothing to do with the things I witnessed. God had nothing to do with how sick all of my friends got. God had nothing to do with the indignities I watched being perpetrated on the sick and dying.
My poor friends went to their death, in ways you cannot even imagine or conceive, and I am sure, as the sun rises, that each human being that turned their backs on us, paid a heavenly price for that ultimate Sin Against God’s humanity.
I survived the worst disease I have ever seen. And God was right there, in the middle of it all, and for a few hours each night, I spent time with people, who were running out of time. I know who loved me through that darkness.
On December 9th, 2001, I promised God that I would remain on that beam, even if it killed me to do so. I moved to Montreal for a spiritual truth. I had been given the gift of sobriety a second time. I’m not sure that wasn’t a fluke.
If I had not had salvation from the sinister episode I was sunk in, when it was time to go, I am not sure I would have survived, and nobody knew where I was for one, and two, nobody cared either. If I had dropped off the face of the earth, or died, nobody would have come looking for me or even missed me.
God Giveth, and God Taketh away …
I know today, that in my life, at certain times, God removed things from my life, for certain reasons. Other times, I had to choose to walk away from some things. And in a few instances, when I walked away, from, let’s say, a substance, I did not go back to look for more. I knew I was done. That happened with alcohol as well.
When I moved here, I did not go looking for it again.
When I decided that I did not need the Village or the people in it, early in sobriety, I walked away from it. And I did not miss it. I was sober, so I was not bar hopping nor was I trolling for sex either.
Heavenly Father, in His wisdom knows what He is doing for me and for you. Over the years, I trusted in His wisdom and love when I was relieved of things in my life that were not serving me. I’ve spent fifteen years here, I was educated here. I know a ton of people here. Out of ALL the people I know, ONE, ONLY ONE, friend has invested in my life. HE is my best friend.
I can’t say that much about the community I walked away from. And don’t miss one bit. For the first time in all my years I went to Pride in the Nations Capitol, Ottawa. I had never felt so out of place or unsettled in my life. I knew, that I did not need that event, or any of those people. I have certain gay friends who I trust and listen to advice from. Getting sober in straight rooms, that assimilated many into them, serves me well. There are just some things in life that once i felt necessary and exclusive, proved, in the end, to be unnecessary and pointless.
When I was diagnosed in 1994, even our own brothers, who were alive, healthy and safe, turned their backs on those of us who were sick. i watched healthy humans toss their sick partners, boyfriends and lovers out into the streets destitute and alone. I served every one of those men left on the side of the street, and I was there when many of them crossed the veil into the afterlife. Let me tell you, that was a bitter pill to swallow.
But Heavenly Father delivered me out of that hell. WHY he chose me to live is still beyond me, but like my Elders said, I have a story and a solution to offer. At least that is solid wisdom.
So the decision to convert was not a difficult choice. It was another choice, as I heard from a young man on the Voices of Hope site tonight.
When I left home, there was only ONE choice. There was no other, and no other voice offered to engage me.
I have a choice today.
I don’t know what it is, but I am certain that, when I walked away from something, or something was taken away, it was or has been by Divine Intervention. (read: God)
Hubby was dropped into my life, So I could repay God for his tender mercies He had shown me, so that I could turn around and help, love and serve another. Then marry.
My Marriage is Non-Negotiable. However, a commitment must be made to God. One that I am ready and willing to accept.
I will not, in any sense of the word, forsake my marriage.
God has always been part of this marriage. But I see now that, God removed some things from my life, just the same, and I am ok with this truth.
There are covenants coming.
There are commitments to be made.
There is a process in this conversion experience. The Elders think well of me, and I am blessed that God put them in my path, at the moment they appeared.
Cedric said that the Elders who found me, were “The Right” elders to find me. That had any other Elder come across me, this time might not have happened the same or even at all. Because the young men I know today, speak with the authority of the Church, and their Scriptures.
I spent a couple hours with my sponsor this morning talking to her about this process, and she could identify with the feelings and emotions I was talking about.
After we parted, I had lunch with a lady friend who had texted me earlier in the morning, and it was funny that she asked how I was, then she asked me “What are you reading?”
And I said … The Book of Mormon.
She did not believe me. I told her I was going to be an LDS member, and she was intrigued, so we had lunch together. At my evening teaching session, I said to the Elders that “They should have warned me, that I would become an evangelist…”
They just laughed …
How do you know who you are supposed to be? What determines who you are? What one looks like, what one feels, what one sees, what one reads, what one hears from others?
How does one reconcile LOVE coming from certain people, and hatred and revulsion from others?
Looking back, to those early days, I had very few friends growing up. I did not arrive into friendships until I had hit the 6th grade. And it was upward and onward from there.
I knew I was GAY very early in life.
What does a child do, who has time on his hands, and a house full of information to be had, if you knew where to look ?
Nobody thought twice about the consumption of reading material located throughout the house. And nobody gave a second thought to what kind of reading material it was either.
Back in the day, I had a transistor radio that I used to listen to in bed at night. But more specifically, it was what exactly I was listening to that mattered.
I knew I was gay, but I never spoke that word to anyone at home. But parents are not stupid nor ignorant. And in my teens, my father figured it out for himself and began to beat me and abuse me mercilessly and senselessly. The abuse my father handed out began when I was a small child and he would chase me around the house with a bat trying to kill me, saying that “I was a mistake and should never have been born.” My grandmothers stood in the way of my father and his bat every time he did that.
He maintains that line to this day, in 2016, and I am nearing the fifty mark next summer.
I am still that mistake, and the cause of everyone else’s problems.
It is All My Fault.
Not sure where that came from really.
I played the heterosexual dating game through junior high and high school.
I attempted to follow God into Seminary, and I failed in that work. Seminary was not the safest place and not the most sacred location either.
Homosexuality was alive and well under the cover of darkness. Who knew they were going to ordain so many pompous, arrogant, entitled queers into the church back then?
That is the God’s honest TRUTH.
I had not come out of the closet yet. I was still an impressionable young boy at age nineteen.
When I came of age, at 21, knowing I had to leave home, and never return, the one piece of advice I listened to, was from my shrink,
who told me that the only way into the gay community was through a bar and a couple of drinks. The rest they say is history.
What was being Gay ? Same Sex Attraction (SSA), Sex, Drugs, Alcohol…
I lived that lifestyle for just six years. When I turned twenty six, everything changed.
Having the beautiful boyfriend was all the rage in my twenties. And it seemed, that it was not the single gay that was attractive to most young gay men. It was the “coupled” gays that were the most attractive. Breaking up a couple who were dating was the holy grail in the community I was part of.
I was not the prettiest gay boy, but I was attractive for a while, until I became a worthless drunk.
I had never succeeded in having relationships worth any substance.Alcohol fueled the desire for sexual attraction and sex itself.
And it was my own undoing that brought me to where I ended up eventually.
Everything God gives us is a blessing. It might not seem that way as life happens. But in hindsight, getting sick was truly the best blessing I could have asked for.
And I guess, in a way, I was just asking for it, wasn’t I ???
Stupid. Just Plain Stupid.
When James committed suicide, I was twenty five years old. I had reached the first tragedy in my life.
And I drank myself into the ground over that and ended up in therapy.
The day I was diagnosed with AIDS, at age twenty six, the world stopped spinning.
It just stopped.
Where does God play into this story ?
Memere made it perfectly clear to me that she was IN with God. She had that magical connection.
She believed in God and that with that faith, she would give me superpowers to defeat the hatred and abuse I suffered as a child.
I would need that God.
I did not know where God was when James died, and I surely did not call out to God, nor utter a single prayer either.
When I told my family, friends, and fellows that I was sick and was going to die, everyone scattered, nobody hung around nor did any of them want to.
Hindsight is 20/20.
I know God performed a miracle in my life. If God was ever human, he arrived in the guise of Todd’s wise supervision and love.
I prayed day and night for life, and God was right there in the thick of it walking me through the darkness.
If Todd (read: God) had not stepped in and did what had to be done, I would have died with all those men who did die in the end.
I know today that God exists. That I met him in the flesh.
When one is diagnosed with AIDS, the non-negotiables went out the window. The dynamic of what we are and who we are changes forever.
The Post AIDS view of sexuality in my life speaks volumes as to what was more important during rough times.
And I see the wisdom of that blessing now.
Working in the bar, was practice in serving the least of these to the best of my ability. I was protected from anyone who would do me harm, by Todd.
Knowing how to take care of others, was specifically important, because in the end, I would know how to take care of ME, should it come to that. Thank God it did not come to that.
As long as Todd was in my life, I wanted for nothing. I had dignity, guidance, love and respect.
When he moved away, I did not know how to carry those forwards for myself.
I lost myself, turned inwards and took back my will and in an insane moment, tried to fill the hole in my soul. And that did not work out at all.
I returned to the scene of that decision, alone and single.
When I took my last drink, I knew I was done.
For the first time in recent memory I called out to God, I needed heavenly help. I prayed three prayers in a specific order.
And God is always listening, and to prove to me that HE was there, he shifted the universe and handed me everything that I needed. God heard my prayers.
That superpower Memere gave me, was still working.
When I got sober again, I was no longer alone. I had people in the rooms who took care of me.
I moved to Montreal, and later met my now husband.
The day I saw Hubby, I passed him in a church doorway, and I knew then and there that this was it. The rest, they say is history.
Soon after we met, within the first year, he was diagnosed with Bi-Polar depression. And I was alone. I chose to stay and take care of him. I wasn’t going to leave. I spent every night, sitting here in the dark wondering what to do? I kept close to the rooms, I prayed and I listened. God kept me sane and He cared for me, through the dark times.
What happens when the gay lifestyle (read: Sex) turns into care giving and support? Sex goes out the window. I was no longer drinking or drugging. Both of us are sober today.
I think God knew what He was doing.
When you take away the sexual dynamic from the equation of life, who and what you are changes as well.
I am going to be 50 next year. I am no longer a “viable member” of the gay community. I am well “Over the Hill” by the standards of the young gay community.
I don’t walk around Montreal, with the eyes of sexual attraction. Montrealer’s are beautiful people.
I have someone in my life that I love. Once that happened, sexual attraction for others, ended. Once you commit, you commit.
You don’t need any one else. Tainted as I am, who would want me.
I am a tainted man, which makes me sexually unattractive to the many. Hubby accepted me unconditionally. Without question.
If my marriage ever ended, one way or another, I would never go back into general population. That is not even a possibility.
Our relationship began on a wind swept cold and rainy day, and an angel lost in the park close to home.
That one event turned two humans into a couple. It was An Angel, Faith and God.
I’ve been married for twelve years this November 2016.
I’ve come to realize, in the rooms of the fellowship, that we are all human beings, who deserve dignity, love and respect.
I don’t have many gay friends that I can count on in a pinch. Two men come to mind.
I know many people in the rooms. But I rely only on a handful of men and women I can call at any time if need be. They are reliable. The rest are not.
With the dawn of gender fluidity, the whole question of who we are, what we want to be called, and what is politically correct, are all the rage.
I AM a child of God, created in his image. I am a human being worthy of Love and Love from God.
In all my years, today, I have lived through the darkest times, and I survived the threat of death. I conquered my addiction to drugs and alcohol.
What is important in life is very simple. Caring for my husband, being of service to my fellows, and living Godly principles.
The way I see the world has changed, and the way I see myself has evolved. The turning towards God and a life of faith is the transition I am in at the moment.
I’ve met The Elders – they appeared at the right moment, and I was open to conversation. Which led to where I stand right now.
And I have been listening for God’s voice. I am always listening for it, and if I don’t hear it, I sit with my friends and listen to them.
Recently, I heard God’s voice and he said to me that “I am enough for you.”
There is nothing I need except God’s love and direction.
I just want to know that my life has not been lived in vain, that God does love me – all of me. He knows everything and is all forgiving.
I’ve seen so many changes in the world and as those dynamics change, we change with them. At some point, we all have to figure out what we are going to do with our lives as we grow older. And I surely am not going to sink into the pit of obscurity that many of my older friends have sunk into.
As long as there is air in my lungs and I can get out of bed in the morning, I will serve God to the best of my ability.
We are so privileged to have the resources we do today.
If you travel to the island of Crete, in Greece, and are looking for another alcoholic, or a meeting, one has to travel through back alleys, and little lanes, to the door of an old Greek Orthodox Church, where you will find a door, with an A.A. medallion, stuck to it.
And quite possibly, you will also find two ex-pat British men who, for 42 or 43 weeks a year, spend their time on the island of Crete. Two men, probably the only English meeting you will find there, will help you stay sober.
Imagine, if you will, in the year 2016, that there are only THREE people, who have the life saving message of how to quit drinking. There is no book, There are no meetings. There are only three men, in the whole of creation, that have the message, to offer …
In the story, A.A. Number Three, the story of Bill D. the man in the bed, is the founder of the first A.A. group in the world, in Akron Ohio. The Very First group.
When he received the message, it was only Bill and Dr. Bob.
“They said to me, Do you want to quit drinking? It’s none of our business about your drinking. We’re not up here trying to take any of your rights or privileges away from you, but we have a program whereby we think we can stay sober. part of that program is that we take it to someone else who needs it and wants it. Now, if you don’t want it, we’ll not take up your time, and we’ll be going and looking for someone else.”
Bill and Dr. Bob meant business. Because it was THEIR sobriety on the line. If they did not carry the message to a suffering alcoholic, then they were in jeopardy of drinking again.
Do you really need it or want it ???
Imagine if we were back in the day, knowing we had a serious problem, a sickness of the mind and the body, and there was no one around, to help us figure it out, save for just two men, who succeeded in stopping the drink.
We are just so lucky.
The next story in the founder’s section of the Stories in the back of the book is “Gratitude in Action,” The story about Dave B. who founded A.A. here in Quebec in 1944.
A.A. in Quebec began in a nondescript home, in the basement of said home, before A.A. found its way into a local church.
We are indebted to this intrepid group of men and women, for laying the groundwork for the system we have that keeps us sober.
I heard some friends of mine talk tonight about family members on the other side of the world, (read: S. Korea) where there are NO meetings in English and the only contact they have with another alcoholic lives here in Montreal.
I also heard a friend talk about some women who got sober around the same time my lady friend had, a little over two years ago. I warned them all about LONGEVITY. I warned them that sobriety was a LONG HAUL proposition.
That the Pink Cloud would come to an end, and if you are not focused on the long haul of it, you will fall off that cloud and drink again. A couple of those lady friends are still IN the meetings, they STICK around and have stayed.
But for some of those women, who were heavy alcoholics who ended up in institutions and hospitals, and lost their homes, kids, cars and THINGS, each of them rebuilt from the rubble, and then decided that they did not NEED us any longer.
They might be sober still, but they have gone off on their own.
Is that a good thing or a bad thing ? I’m not sure.
It’s not my problem.
Where ever you go in the world, you can, for the most part, find a meeting, in the local language, or better yet, in English if you are lucky. But no matter where you go, in the world, there are people out there to carry the message, even if we don’t speak the same language.
Sobriety is universal.
It was said tonight, by another of our women, that:
If it is the the only thing we find in the rooms, we find God, Spirituality.
The book says:
I came in A.A. solely for the purpose of sobriety, but it has been through A.A. that I have found God.
Bill D, goes on to say … I feel that is about the most wonderful thing that a person can do.
God has been a part of my life for the whole of my life. When it was good, it was good, but when it was bad, it was very bad. But in all my years, I never imagined that I would turn my ENTIRE will and my life over to the care of God, as I understood him.
God was present the first time I got sober, in the guise of Todd.
The problem was that Todd was not IN the rooms. But he gave me a plan to live and he kept me sober on the outside. The room I was attached to, was unhealthy and sick. I did not want to be in that room, but it was the only one close enough to walk, because I did not have a car, and other meetings were too far away and transit sucked.
My first sober stint was unhealthy and I did not connect, and decided not to stay.
Read: Taking back my will to fill the HOLE in my SOUL.
What I did right the second time was this … It began with prayer.
I had, functionally, committed to Steps One, Two and Three, the very night I decided I was done drinking, for the second time.
I made my first meeting in a room that welcomed me and asked me to stay. It was a healthy – safe – supportive space to get sober.
In deciding to grow up, it was in the rooms that I achieved that, with people who helped me stay sober, grow up and become a man. Coming to Montreal, was 100% a God decision.
And God has not done me wrong.
Because we need a happy dog photo right now. It’s my favorite image too …
Every one wants to be noticed, to be acknowledged, to be seen, and to be loved…
How often we see people come in the room, and we notice them, but at the end of the meeting, we watch them walk out, because WE did not step up and say, “I noticed you.”
There are two young people in our community, that I have been watching bounce in and out of the rooms, stuck in the revolving door of alcoholism and drug addiction. I noticed them a long time ago, but back then, as my young man said to me tonight, “he wasn’t in it to win it.” But I watched.
I reminded my young lady friend of a story she shared at a meeting a long time ago, about a specific spiritual experience she had one night on the Metro. Indeed, she had forgotten that story, tonight, I reminded her of it.
I decided that the time was right to step up and do something. I asked one question of him after the meeting … “Who is invested in your sobriety?” He replied, no one specifically.
So I told him the story. We spoke for a while, and he has my number, and I asked him to call me every day, to at least, connect with one alcoholic every day, no matter what.
He is working with a man I know, who is good people, so he has a sponsor now.
My friend said something in the meeting we all thought important to remember:
“IF YOU ARE WAITING FOR SOMEONE TO BRING YOU FLOWERS, PLANT YOUR OWN GARDEN.”
A funny statement that is in tonight’s read:
I HAVE YET TO FIND A PLACE IN THE BIG BOOK THAT SAYS “NOW YOU HAVE COMPLETED THE STEPS; HAVE A NICE LIFE … “
I’ve said it before, sobriety never ends. Once you begin, buckle up, because this is a long ride, through ups and downs, good times and bad, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, till death do you part…
See the pun there, did you notice it ?
I’ve been listening to several pod casts lately. I’ve told you about them in earlier posts. One of them is quite good. The writing is stellar, the pod cast is one I look forward to.
A couple weeks ago, I bought a couple of his books. Sold “in house” and not on the “open Market.” Halfway through the first book, I put the book down.
I think I read too much, across the spectrum. So I’m thinking to myself, someone who spends hours upon hour writing scripts, should be well versed in certain research for his books just the same. That is not the case it seems.
Reading a simple story is simple. No expectations, or demands from the read. I read for story. I read for content. I read for details and spins. Don’t waste my time with a book that goes no where, but the simple straight route from point A to point B. End of story.
I am spoiled by Kathy Reichs and Donna Tartt. I am spoiled by several other authors who write stellar books, that I am guilty of holding up expectations for other authors who “should” write like them with attention to detail and story method.
Sadly, not many writers got that memo …
October is getting closer. The holiday season is just weeks away now. I could give you a day count, but that would be a little compulsive, don’t you think ?
If you go to a meeting, notice people around you. And go say hello to at least one person before you leave that meeting. Tell them that “You were paying attention.”
I am paying attention …
You never know when you are going to save a life …