A program saying that has become almost universal is “one day at a time”. Along with many other concepts we found this particular one confusing in early sobriety. Part of our disease was that we were impulsive and had not given any thought to the consequences of each day’s actions. But now, at almost every meeting we heard someone repeating that “one day” quote. It sounded to us that you were saying we could continue our daily program of self-will run riot.
As our minds and spirits cleared, we began to awaken to what was really being said. Now, as responsible members of society, of course we needed to make plans for the future. Like others we saved monies for home purchases, went back to school to further our education and planned out family vacations. What had changed was our letting go of trying to control the future. We were able to drop all of our obsessive rumination about outcome. We would make all the necessary efforts, but the results were in the hands of our Higher Power. We didn’t need to “look too far down the road”, because ultimately we realized that we were powerless over it anyway.
Personal Reflection: Do I still think I need to look down the road?
For a long time we kept things to ourselves. We spent months and years sweeping everything under the carpet. By the time we were done, we metaphorically had a huge mound of “stuff” sitting in the center of the room under the rug. We might not have seen the mound, but it was obvious to everyone else. We also had to put a lot of effort into hiding our pile and it was quite painful for us to hold onto.
Today, we have other options. We can finally put our brooms away. When we encounter a problem, we can discuss it at a meeting. We can also make an outreach call to someone else in the program. Certain issues are best discussed one on one with our sponsors. Perhaps the greatest resource for us is being able to turn to our Higher Power. On a daily basis many of us pray for His assistance. The act of turning over our problems to the G-d of our understanding liberates us from worry and concern about the future. Of course we still need to do the work so to speak, but the results are now in His hands.
Personal Reflection: What do I still need to turn over?
As beginners we gratefully acknowledged our powerlessness and the unmanageability of our lives. For a period of time many of us experienced the “pink cloud” effect. We seemed to be in a state of flow and felt a conscience contact with G-d. Then somewhere along the way, that pink cloud lifted. Although now “sober” a lot of our old thought pathways and behavior patterns returned. We longed for that initial relationship with our Higher Power that we had experienced in early sobriety. What had happened to G-d? Why did we no longer feel His presence like we had once before? We questioned our sponsor and he probably suggested that we needed to change our thinking. In the past, whenever there was a problem, we would attempt to place blame on something or someone else. In sobriety, when we discovered something wasn’t working in our world, we needed to introspect and take a look at our part. If we were feeling distant from G-d, what could we do to reconnect. As we deepened our prayer and meditation practice, consistently journaled, made more meetings and took additional service commitments our connection to our Higher Power was renewed once again.
Personal Reflection: Does G-d seem close or far away?
Growing up, a lot of us developed a mistaken concept of prayer. Various traditions instructed us to pray to G-d with our requests. When our prayers weren’t answered, perhaps we went to religious representatives about our lack of results. Some of us were told that our prayers weren’t answered because we were being punished for previous sins. Others were told that on some level we hadn’t prayed hard enough, or we hadn’t used the correct words or formula. The end result was that many of us felt distant and alienated from G-d and prayer.
In the program we have developed a different understanding of prayer. As we work the steps we do ask our Higher Power to remove our defects of character. At the same time we have come to realize that we need to also do our part to identify and change our negative actions and thoughts. As we develop an intimate relationship with G-d; we often find that He has a great sense of humor. Our Higher Power will often send us the very obstacle we are praying for to be removed. How we respond demonstrates our growth.
Personal Reflection: What challenge has my Higher Power sent me recently?
The second step declares, “came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity”. We had turned to this step when we discovered the truisms from the first step; that our lives had become unmanageable and that we were powerless. For many years we had attempted to make changes in our lives. Utilizing different strategies, we ended up with the same results. We ended up back in the same hole with the same problems. In the program we learned to surrender and to admit our powerlessness. Instead of depending on our failed strategies, we asked our Higher Power for assistance. Then something miraculous began to happen. The more we were able to let go of controlling situations, the more positive the outcome. The more willing we were to let G-d drive the car, the smoother the trip began to be. Of course, we needed to test the waters. When we attempted to take back control, our lives started to become more unmanageable once again. When we allowed our egos to reclaim control, we lost our contact with our Higher Power. It was then that we realized that ego was little more than easing G-d out.
Personal Reflection: Who’s in charge today; G-d or me?