Given that summer is upon us, many people turn to gardening. There is actually an amazing phenomenon that occurs when we plant flowers and vegetables. We plant a seed in the ground and give it a little water. If you were to dig up that seed after a few days, you would see that it was actually beginning to deteriorate and rot. Then right before there was total deterioration, a new sprout suddenly appears. Life emerges from something which appeared to be rotting away.
Our lives are sometimes like that little seed. We get covered over with the problems of life to the point that we actually feel like we’ve been buried. While we were active and without the tools of the program, we often did become buried by life. We remained so for years and sometimes decades. When we finally got sober that seed began to sprout. Of course we continued to face many problems. However, now, we came up with solutions to these challenges. In fact it was only because of these trials and tribulations that we were able to create solutions. So many seeds sprouted as a result that our life became a veritable garden.
Personal Reflection: How does your garden grow?
There are moments in our life where we do or accomplish something that we would have thought was an impossibility. Facing great adversity or against all odds we were successful. These types of events have also become very popular as of late in Hollywood. In recent years there have been many movies which carry the byline, “based on a true story”. As we sit in the theatre over those 2 hours we are inspired by an actor portraying a real life person who fought the good fight or who transcended great adversity and persevered to success.
To this we say, “Hollywood has nothing on us”. In the rooms of AA, NA and OA there are thousands of stories about people who had sunk to the bottom rung of existence and today are happy, healthy, productive members of society. Each and everyone one of them is a walking miracle. Their struggles would make great movie material. Their stories though differ from the ones from Hollywood. In the program, we attribute our success to our Higher Power. We say, “G-d is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves”. Whatever we have, whatever we have accomplished, we acknowledge the role of our Higher Power.
Personal Reflection: Do I give enough credit to my Higher Power for my successes?
In this society we place a big premium on getting things done as quickly as possible. Efficiency and speed are some of the holy grails of modern western civilization. People want there Big Macs and Whoppers ready before they receive their change for their order. Drinking drip coffee or using a French press is so passé because it is just too slow. These days we all have little machines that we put in a pre measured cup of coffee and 30 seconds later we have our brew.
Though it might work for coffee, speed does not work for recovery. If we find ourselves rushing through the 12 steps, we are probably not doing them correctly. Experience has shown us that almost anything that has value in our recovery comes along with associated challenges. As we dig deep into our past, and examine our character defects, there will be times that we become stuck in the process. Rather than being concerned about this, we should acknowledge that if we are feeling resistance, we are probably doing something right. Many of us even feel that obstacles are often placed in our path by our Higher Power to test our mettle. We have also discovered that things we once viewed as being impossible to deal with, our now in our rear view mirror.
Personal Reflection: How has adversity helped me to grow?
From an early age many of us discovered that this thing called life was painful. We endured many situations which we found to be very uncomfortable and challenging. Our inner world was often in turmoil. Then one day, we had our first drink, our first joint or our first drug of choice. Something magical happened. All of that pain and discomfort faded into the background. We thought to ourselves that we had discovered the elixir to a happy life. Sooner or later however, that elixir turned into a poison. Whenever we indulged in our drink or drug, the quality of our life deteriorated. Our health, careers and relationships began to suffer because of our addictive choices. Yet we seemed powerless over our ability to stop using.
When we joined AA or NA or OA we began to realize that our drug of choice was a false prophet. It would never deliver what we thought it had promised. In fact just the opposite was the case. Invariably we were worse off after using. We finally admitted that we could not drink or drug safely. This sentiment was summed by a member of AA who said, “I have an allergy to alcohol. Every time I drank, I broke out…….in handcuffs”.
Personal Reflection: What tools have I developed to cope with life’s adversities?
When we compare our lives today against from before we entered the program, we often notice a vast difference. Some of us have been reunited with family members after years of separation and bad feelings. Others have excelled in the work environment after years of dead end and non challenging jobs. There are those who verbalized dreams which never actualized until they put down their drug of choice. Some of these changes have been almost miraculous in nature. Over time you will encounter well dressed, well spoken members who tell stories of sleeping on top of subway gratings or of stints in prisons and mental institutions. The contrast of their lives from before and after program is most marked. Today, the lives of almost every person in program is better than it was before they entered the program. It’s not that life has gotten any easier. They still have rent or mortgages to pay, jobs to go to and families to interact with. Every day they are still tested with challenging people and situations. What has changed is their ability to cope with adversity. Through the program, thy have developed tools to face and surmount the varied challenges in life. Though they might say that life seems to have gotten easier, the change resides within each of them.
Personal Reflection: How have I gotten better?