• Home
  • Through the Red Door

Through the Red Door Blog

In the early days of the Church, when the front door of the parish was painted red it was said to signify sanctuary – that the ground beyond these doors was holy, and anyone who entered through them was safe from harm.

In the lives of many recovering people, it is through these same red doors that sanctuary is found on a daily basis. Initially that sanctuary may not have started in the rooms with high vaulted ceilings and stained glass windows, but in the basements and back rooms of churches where 12-step meetings are held.

This blog was created for recovering people to share the experiences they found walking through those doors of safety, refuge and peace.

To submit a entry to the blog, please click here for the details or contact us at info@episcopalrecovery.org.

  • 11/21/2018 10:32 PM | Anonymous

    “Today I am sober… hours/days.” It is wonderful to see more and more individuals post on Facebook that they are sober even if they are struggling to stay so. What I see missing in many of those postings is an acknowledgement about how they got sober. Their A.A. chip implies they are in a 12-step recovery program which implies they acknowledge their sobriety came from a Power greater than themselves but they do not say this.

    In psalm 150 the psalmist writes, “Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary… for his mighty deeds… according to his greatness… with trumpet… lute and harp... tambourine and Dance… with strings and pipe... clanging cymbals… let everything that breathes praise the Lord.”

    When I first came to the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous, I didn’t need to get sober. I told my boss I would not drink and it was no big deal. Any fool can stop drinking. And this fool stopped drinking. I never picked up another drink. I never picked up another drug. But I was not sober and I was not happy about being seen in these rooms.

    God was good to me. (S)he nudged me into the program and nudged me to listen to a couple of individuals who saw through my façade, my fear, and stubbornness at not wanting to have a sponsor. They sponsored me into sobriety, Praise the Lord.

    With my seminary background I thought I knew all about God. What goodness I knew about God applied to others. The god I believed in I saw through clouded thinking and negative emotions—the baggage that prevented me from seeing God with twenty- twenty vision. My understanding of god was skewed with my low self-esteem issues—anger; resentments, etc. It is difficult to praise God when God is seen as the source of one’s problems.

    Sobriety came slowly to this alcoholic. Gratitude for being an alcoholic in recovery came slowly. The trinitarian basis of the program began to unfold in all its simplicity and depth. Go to meetings to listen to what was shared and identifying with others was an eye-opener. Read the Big Book and underline identified emotions to help me identify with those “old folk” who wrote this book some 40 years earlier. Talk to a sponsor about what I had for breakfast, about my boss, about what I am grateful for, about my anger, and why I chose to be angry without blaming others (a new behavior). Praise the Lord.

    When I say, “Praise the Lord,” I am not identifying with any particular denomination or Faith community. “Praise the Lord” was (is) the language used by a person filled with the joy of his/her awareness of a Power greater than him/her self. That power was seen in all of nature and s/he wanted to give praise with every instrument available (not just a Hammond Organ).

    Today I can identify with those who seem to think they are sobering up on their own while they hold the chip that says “God, grant me the serenity…” Today I pray that they stay with the program, go to meetings, read the Big Book and talk to their sponsor until such time as the cloud lifts and they can experience the joy of sobriety.

    Today, like a child, I want to make a joyful noise to the Lord with a loud sound, with the simplicity of a pot and spoon, Praise the Lord for my sobriety and serenity. Praise the Lord for a joy filled heart. Praise the Lord as we pray in our own understanding of God: “Our Father…” 

    -Seamus D
  • 11/15/2018 9:39 PM | Anonymous

    “Recovery… is dependent upon [our] relationship with God.”1

    “Wretched” perfectly fits this can’t-pass-too-soon-year, 2018.  Yes, our political/societal quakes from daybreak to dark. My spouse’s political outrage, fitting and just, incites my own shadowy fears.  The death of my best friend, the woeful derelictions of my boss, and recurring sibling savagery between my sister (cardiac crises) and brother (terminal leukemia) have sapped my reserves of energy, patience and hope. Enduring civic and parish commitments, family duties and social doings consume the dregs. Over the full span of the sodden, fetid summer I barely put my toes in the waves and rarely gripped the dingy’s helm.

    Beyond the dim likelihood that they’ll be answered as asked, there’s good reason to steer our prayers away from… “unreasonable demands upon ourselves, upon other and upon god.”2 Pope Francis warns against blocking our access to God’s creativity with our pleas. The idea that God “answers” our prayers, tweaking the life events of seven billion replicas of his image and likeness (is there a more self-serving notion?) may be untenable. Regardless, the Word that was “in the beginning”, the Word with God and Word that is God”3 echoes within each of us and all of us, summoning our full attention to realize His creative energy at work in everyone we perceive, engage and embrace.

    In this harrowing hour, I desperately long to experience “each day’s most quiet moments, by sun and candlelight.”3 I need more such moments and long to draw more from them.  A retreat beckons… my former, longstanding Chicago home group gathers as the leaves’ colors peak.  The twelve-hour drive each way from Philadelphia gives me pleasure.  Arrive a day early; linger a day longer.  Gather my journal notes and favorite texts, plan to listen during the talks, and listen harder during the silences.

    Silence. Silence, to hear the Word within me, within us.

    How do I love thee [O my God]? Let me count the ways.

    I love thee to the depth and breadth and height

    My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight

    For the ends of being and ideal grace.

    I love thee to the level of every day’s

    Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.

    I love thee freely, as men strive for right.

    I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.

    I love thee with the passion put to use

    In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.

    I love thee with a love I seemed to lose

    With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,

    Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if [You, O] God choose,

    I shall but love thee better after death. 3

    • 1       Alcoholics Anonymous (Big Book), p 100, AA World Services, Fourth Edition, 2002
    • 2       Alcoholics Anonymous (Big Book), p 76, AA World Services, Fourth Edition, 2002
    • 3       Sonnets from the Portuguese, “Sonnet 43”, Elizabeth Barrett Browning

  • 11/07/2018 6:58 PM | Anonymous

    As we read this, all of us will know the results of this mid- term election. Our prayers should be with those who win the election, for those who lose, and for those who voted for both of them.

     For some reason I am hoping to remember Joseph of Arimathaea after this election. “He was a good and righteous man… and had not agreed to their plan and action. He came from the Jewish town of Arimathaea and he was waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 23:50-56)  That’s us!! I think we all are waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God and are hoping to find some part of it in all the people we voted for as well as in all the places we worship and all the places we attend 12 step meetings, those thin places, filled with the prayers of thousands before us. We have much in common with Joseph of Arimathaea.

    “He did not agree to their plan and action.” But what did he do about it? Did he speak up for Jesus? There is no record that anyone testified on Jesus’ behalf. We have sometimes been like Joseph of Arimathaea. We sometimes see injustice and wrongdoings in the lives of others and ourselves, but we do not speak up against them. We fear what might happen to us. We fear the consequences of speaking out. We fear what we do or say might be offensive and hurt someone, or heaven forbid, we would become unpopular. We fear that our voice will not make a difference.

    But then a transformation occurs in Joseph, what we might call, a moment of clarity. Joseph personally goes to Pilate. What bravery. He asks for Jesus’ body, personally and compassionately takes the nails out of Jesus’ hands and feet, washes off the blood from his head, his hands, his feet, his side, his back, wraps the body in a linen cloth and lays it presumably in his own tomb.

    Are we Joseph of Arimathaea? Is there a point where we can no longer live our lives with a mask? We no longer pretend to go along with the old crowd inside and outside of ourselves. We look deep inside ourselves and speak our truth and act on it. This happened with our recovery. This also may be how we experienced voting yesterday. No matter the results of the election, we voted and let our voice be heard.

    A fictional modern-day Joseph might be Atticus Finch, a widowed lawyer in 1932 Alabama in To Kill a Mockingbird. He unsuccessfully defends Tom Robinson the black man accused of raping a white woman.

    Another modern-day Joseph of Arimathaea is Rosa Parks, the black seamstress in Montgomery, Alabama, who decides one day she is too tired to walk to the back of the bus and changes the course of civil rights.

    And of course, there are those of us in 12 step Recovery who one day decide we can no longer live our old way and take off our masks of perfection and a secret lifestyle and admit we have a problem and seek help and in turn help others. Think about it. We who are gathered today through the internet know what it is like to be Joseph of Arimathea.

    I think there is a Joseph of Arimathaea inside each of us, finally making a stand, changing the way we have been relating to ourselves, to God, and to the world.

    Remember the quiet, compassionate, loving courage of Joseph of Arimathea that is in each of us, the courage to change, the courage that led us to recovery, the courage to bring healing to ourselves and others, and now the courage to bring compassionate healing to our country especially in the days ahead.   

    Joseph provided the tomb for resurrection to take place. That is now our job. We have learned about resurrection and compassion for others in our 12 step groups. We are called now to be that same vessel for compassion outside in the world today.

    Joanna joannaseibert.com

  • 10/30/2018 9:11 PM | Anonymous

    Published in 1939, it’s sold 20 million copies, been through 4 editions, distributed world-wide.  TIME placed it on its list of 100 best and most influential books, the Library of Congress designated it as one of 88 books that “shaped America.” It’s wording and style of writing hasn’t been substantially changed since 1939. The stories have been edited some and some have been dropped but new ones always added. We speak of “writing style.” It was written by-and-large by Bill Wilson; he requested and received comments in mass from the early recovering alcoholics. Its strength is that it was written by alcoholics for alcoholics. Absent is fuzzy medical terminology and ambiguities.

    The Twelve Steps were first published in the First Edition.  Maybe apocryphal, but after a first or second draft, someone pointed out that the Book didn’t contain any quick summary of the Program, so, Bill dictated the Twelve Steps.

    I read the Steps and marvel. It’s all there! Step by Step we rebuild our lives, refocus our attitudes, values and hopes for our well-being. We enter a deep personal and spiritual cleansing and embark on a life style absent from our ego (but always we claim progress in all matters, not perfection). Frankly, I find Bill’s Twelve Steps to be a statement of Christian precepts, much more to the point, simple to understand, and pointed in the right direction: that (at least “my” Higher Power) gives me the Grace to accept this Program and to seek that Power’s will for me for the future … His Will, not mine …” letting go and letting God.”

    Careful study of the Steps readily shows the extent to which we are completely changing our lives:

    •        new values,
    •        spiritual-filled lives,
    •        prayer,
    •        seeking His Will for us and the power to carry it out,
    •        a constant review of our lives and processes to correct shortfalls,
    •        resetting of priorities,
    •        thinking first of “the other person,”
    •        in all matters seeking to do “the next right thing,”
    •        an abandonment of self-will and selfish mindsets, 
    •        how we might speak through prayer with our Higher Power,
    •        and much, much more.

    We take care to never underestimate the Program or take it for granted. Before, particularly in those instances of crisis, we grabbed a drink to calm ourselves.

    Today, in those moments of panic we now pick from a variety of helpful options, or maybe we pick all of them - we “get to a meeting,” read the Big Book, call our sponsor, seek a quiet corner and meditate, drive to the nearest clubhouse, and look for a new person seeking release from alcohol’s bondage, work with our sponsees.

    We find it all in the Big Book. Thanks heavens!  Blessed be those who assembled its nuggets of wisdom.

    Jim A., Covington, Kentucky

  • 10/18/2018 8:52 PM | Anonymous

    The Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard wrote that “life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” 

    “We dare not get rid of our pain before we find out what it has to teach us.” - Fr. Richard Rohr, Franciscan priest and mystic

    I served for two years as a chaplain in a community hospital. I recall one homeless patient in the ICU who was struggling with addiction. He was in the hospital because he had downed a half a bottle of rubbing alcohol. The physicians were frankly surprised it hadn’t killed him. I saw him just an hour before he was to be transferred to a local psychiatric hospital for observation. My guess is that his physician did this because he assumed that anyone who would do such an extreme thing must be a danger to himself. But, speaking as a recovering addict, I completely understand how a person can become totally, utterly desperate – desperate for anything, ANYTHING, to numb the pain of existence, even briefly. I vividly remember counting the minutes until the liquor store opened each morning; I could hardly bear to wait. Alcohol was my escape from the horrible reality my life had become. I found myself wondering, too, about this particular patient. What private hells was he going through? What had driven him to such a desperate act? He didn’t have much to say; only stared straight ahead and kept saying over and over, “I gotta get somebody to help me…I gotta get somebody to help me…”  

    You don’t have to be a homeless end-stage alcoholic to experience suffering like that. Life is irony. And suffering, I think, may be the ultimate irony. We tell ourselves: I’ve done all the right things, I’ve been good. I’ve gone to church, believed all the right stuff, eaten lots of green vegetables and whole grains, got good grades, and now…I have cancer. Or, now I’ve become an alcoholic or addict. Why? And what of the irony that there are those who live for themselves and scoff at those who have faith, yet experience long and full lives? Irony in its most basic definition is “when things turn out contrary to what one expects.” Irony is paradox, and it is a paradox people of faith must continually hold in tension. Perhaps another important question we must struggle with is this one: “What does it mean for us that we serve a God who suffered?”

    For many years the Christians I hung out with worked very hard to banish irony from their lives; they lived in what I jokingly call an “irony-free zone,” sort of like Disneyland, or perhaps Branson, Missouri. A place where all turns out as is expected, where there are no unpleasant surprises. A universe where cause and effect rule the day. A place where bad people get punished, and get what they ultimately deserve: Judgment, Pain, and Suffering. And God’s faithful people in turn get what THEY deserve; the good life. Proverbs 3:1-2 was often quoted to me:

    “My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity.”

    But that’s not the way life is - right? So how to resolve this? We can’t, period. We’re unfortunately stuck with living in this tension, between “the now and the not yet.” We must somehow find ways to balance this paradox and allow our suffering to redeem us. Perhaps in the midst of doing so we will get a glimpse of the kingdom of God.

    Some may say we suffer because of our sin. There may be some truth there, I think. And I am well aware that there are significant passages in the scriptures that speak of God’s holiness and righteousness, that God hates sin and the terrible effects it has, and that we will all someday stand before God and give account for our lives. I acknowledge these truths. But I am grateful this is not the ONLY, or even the PRIMARY message of the Bible. For every verse that talks about God’s judgment there are ten more that remind us of his mercy, compassion and grace. May my life and ministry consistently reflect what I would call this ‘bias’ on the part of God toward mercy and grace! I have experienced this divine mercy many times in my life. As an addict, I felt, in the words of the prophet Jonah, like “the cords of hell had entangled me” and that, as the psalmist commented, “darkness was my only companion.” But God, in his mercy, rescued me, he saved me. I like that word, “saved.” Some Christians these days shy away from that word “SAVED”  because it has negative connotations and has been used as a doctrinal ‘hammer’ in some instances to determine who is in and who is out. But I do feel like I was saved  from a shipwreck. The shipwreck of my addicted life. In fact, recovering Catholic priest Father Richard Rohr refers to us addicts as “the community of the shipwrecked.” Indeed. I’m thankful to be a part of that community. May I never forget. 

    Fr. Richard +

  • 10/10/2018 9:56 PM | Anonymous

    People. This word meant a lot to me the first time it was discussed in a meeting. It seemed to encompass all the reasons I started my “alcoholic habit” when I was 18 years old in the back room of a popular crowded and typically dirty college barlots of hilarity and pushing and shoving at the bar itself“Hey, Mable, “Black label,” please, 3.2hurryneed to get back on time.”  I wanted to be one of “the in-crowd”.

    Move many years forward. After my dark days and lost weekends, and after I had surrendered, I knew that if I hung around my friendsthe ones that spent much too much time, money and energy drinkingI’d fail once again. If I was going to have any chance with the Program, I’d have to fire my old friends and find new ones. Not an easy choice. I’d known them for years. Together, we’d moved into our 30s and 40s and shared experiences with life’s bumps and grinds. Took vacations with several.

    Places. Early on in my sobriety, I recognized that the bars themselves presented a challenge to my sobriety. Again, in college, the “Bigs” touted certain places. “Antlers” when doing laundry next door, “Dugway” for that case of Black Label to take back to our abodes, the hotel on the square if you wished a “high-end” saloon. Later, usually we had a regular spotone for those “on the way home from work” places, or when out and about with Saturday’s errand-runs, and usually a fancy-dancy place we found for those special times. 

    But, we alcoholics have to remember that not every one of our friends and families are allergic to alcohol as are we. So, occasionally we have to provide alcohol to guests. I can’t hang around liquor storesor wineriesit all looks too good, so why spend any more time than absolutely necessary to accommodate our families and friends.

    “The “places” issue represented another adjustment for this new-comer. Bar food, “best burgers” in town, or “best pizza,” the quietest and darkest for seemingly our “serious” maybe secret rendezvous.

    So, bars, liquor stores and wineries also became off-limits. No more church wine tasting gatherings with everyone in their Harris Tweed jackets and standing around muttering: “Its bite is too harsh, too sweet, dry, sharp, dull, smooth.” Gone, off-limits. The bars were particularly obviously sothe smells, well-aged boiled eggs in some sort of green water, a friendly bar-keep, lots of atmosphere i.e., peanut shells, popcorn, other unidentified scum on the floor and in the “johns.” I just don’t go into them, and if asked, I usually say, “Isn’t there a better place or are we simply pretending to be  back in college?”

    ThingsYou knowlike holidays, family July 4th keg parties, country clubs, the 19th hole, hunting, fishing, New Year’s Eve parties, college reunionsjust the whole social scene we had carefully constructed to make the best convenient use of alcohol. And no more expensive and “rare” scotch, bourbon, wine, sherry, expensive vodka in the ice box, bar accessories, cute bottle openers, imported gin...

    Part # 2 to follow soon

    Jim A. Covington, Kentucky

  • 10/04/2018 9:12 PM | Anonymous

    Elizabeth Kemp, Bradley Cooper’s inspiring teacher at the Actor’s Studio, told him that “All that stuff you’ve always been ashamed of, you’re now going to turn that into your art, and it’s going to heal you, and also make it meaningful, and a productive thing.’”1

    Cooper is an auteur – a filmmaker distinguished by an uncompromising artistic vision and style. Without using the word, Taffy Brodesser-Akner framed her NY Time s profile interview of Cooper on the vision and the craft behind “A Star Is Born”2 around his refusal to discuss his choices, and thus allow her to interpret them or to “speak for” and about him, since the film itself is his statement. He was not ungenerous, or unkind, not at all a jerk, but Cooper’s personal and professional boundaries, his discipline and principles are a way of life.

    Cooper is a sober 12-stepper. We too know about making all that “stuff”, all that shame meaningful. The Time’s writer’s narrative describes a man living in a state of grace: gifted, diligent and discerning. Cooper may be a control freak, but his controlling behavior derives from a sense of duty toward the vision, the work and his collaborators. Early on, he reminded his mentor Kemp of Elia Kazan who only wanted to work with people who make their work the most important thing in their lives. Same goes for people who do the work of recovery.

    “If you want what we have and are willing to go to any lengths to get it…”3 I’m a fan of Bradley Cooper. I want to be like him. I want to take myself seriously, because as a child of God, I’ve been given life in birth, in baptism, in recovery. Family, friends, colleagues, and fellow recoverers all enrich my life, widen my range and raise my game.

    Pedro Arrupe, S.J. famously wrote that “nothing is more important than finding God, that is, falling in love… so, fall in love, stay in love and it will decide everything.”4

    Bradley Cooper is sober and in love. Of course he’s a mega-star, shining in graced sobriety. Yeah.

    1 “Bradley Cooper Is Not Really Into This Profile”, Taffy Brodesser-Akner, New York Times, 9/27/2018
    2 “A Star Is Born” 2018, Warner Bros. and MGM Bradley Cooper Producer/Director/Screenwriter/Actor
    3 Alcoholics Anonymous (Big Book), p 58, AA World Services, Fourth Edition, 2002
    4 Pedro Arrupe Finding God, Finding God in All Things: A Marquette Prayer Book © 2009 Marquette University Press.

    Finding God

    Nothing is more practical than finding God,

    that is, than falling in love in a quite absolute, final way.

    What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination

    will affect everything.

    It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning,

    what you do with your evenings,

    how you spend your weekends,

    what you read,

    whom you know,

    what breaks your heart,

    what amazes you with joy and gratitude.

    Fall in love, stay in love

    and it will

    decide everything.

    Pedro Arrupe, SJ

  • 09/26/2018 9:11 PM | Anonymous

    You may remember a few weeks ago we left me standing on the top step of a ladder, chain saw in hand roaring its little heart out as only a chain saw can do, when, out of the fog of my brain, a voice broke through, and, well, I don’t want to say it had a sharp edge, but let’s just leave it as a voice intended to communicate a certain disapproval for my standing on that ladder’s top step, a roaring chain saw in hand.

    The voice clearly conveying the harsh judgement that whatever I was about to do was about the dumbest, stupidest, most unsafe action a person could undertake.

    Yet, it made all the sense in the world to me. For, you see, my friends, while the chain saw was powered by gasoline, I was fueled and powered by several cans of my own special fuel.

    I mention this absolutely stupid action on my part because it was near the end of my days of regularly refueling with my intake of alcohol-powered soft-drinks during yard-work chores.  It was just before I realized I was an alcoholic … one prone to stupid life-threatening actions but which I and many of us survived only by the Grace of God. I guess I like to think this episode prompted me to, well, at least consider dealing with my problem drinking.

    Actually, that’s not the timing of the issue I remember. I knew I was an alcoholic much before this awakening moment. I just didn’t have the courage to surrender and do something about my addiction, and besides, I admit now I hadn’t had enough as yet of my drug of choice. This little episode caused me to rethink what I was doing with my life and my addiction - to begin taking measure of my conduct, life style, and alcoholic pattern drinking.

    What I’m trying to say is that sometimes it takes a life-threatening action to bring us to that point of the real surrender-- that moment when we admit we have lost control and have tried everything except giving up our addiction.  I had no more available options.

    Oh, sure, I did. I could continue my erratic out-of-control conduct and take the chance my family and employer wouldn’t abandon me.

    I knew about the Program. I had a close friend who’d been involved for several years. I called him and we soon talked.  He didn’t ask me to sign anything or promise I wouldn’t drink forever. All he said was that he had also felt helpless about the nature of his use of alcohol to manage his life and its ups-and-downs. He told me about the Program of Alcoholic Anonymous and how it had provided a way for him to get ahold of his life and to seek and find a better way of living.  He kept saying that AA wants all of us to come to believe that use of the Program will provide us “happiness, joy and freedom” from our addiction.

    It seemed to me that he was on to something and I decided to do something about my addiction and go with him to a meeting and check it out.                               

    Jim A., Covington, KY

  • 09/20/2018 12:27 PM | Anonymous

    John 15:14-16
    14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.

    Throughout my 12-step journey, God has had to use strange moments to “wake me up to His presence.”  I entered drug rehab while I was in seminary.  And with that, I was thoroughly convinced that I knew all there was to know about God and that this “rehab experience” was not going to enlighten me in any way.  So, I entered with a huge egoso large it had its own zip code.  I remember my counselors and fellow residence talking endlessly about this “God of our own understanding.”  It fell on deaf ears.

    One day, when I was feeling quite self-assured, I decided to take a walk on the hospital grounds.  Seems innocent enough … right?  Well, it was November, the ground was thick with ice and snow and the rule wasno venturing out without permission.  Being unique and beyond “the rules,”  I took a walk.  Got to the lake and it was frozen, so I decided I was going to do the “Jesus thing” and walk on water.  Got about 10 feet out when ice began to break and went I straight down into freezing water.  I made my way back to the hospital and was, to say the least, busted.   Because of this, I was given the privilege of cleaning bathrooms for three days. 

    It was on the third day and I was “elbow deep” in toilets and was frustrated with the stupidity of this whole “rehab thing.”  I had decided to pack my bags and leave and then three fellow residence walked into the bathroom and began cleaning.  Couldn’t understand what was going on … so I asked, “why are you doing this and what’s in it for you?”  They said, “nothing, we just wanted to work a good program today and help those in need isn’t that what God would have us do?”  I was unable to respond (which was unusual for me).  And then it dawned on me that they were right.  This is what God would have us do.  These three guys were the God model for me.  I don’t remember their names and I’ve forgotten what they look like; but I will never forget the lesson they taught me.  I will forever remember the day I found God as I cleaned toilets with three fellow 12-steppers.

  • 09/12/2018 8:38 PM | Anonymous

    I was talking with my partner, who is also in recovery, about what we love about Alcoholics Anonymous. We agree that the three things are the Program, the Fellowship and Service. That is our Three-Legged Stool of Recovery.

    The Program gives structure to our lives. One of my favorite AA slogans is “No matter how far into the woods you find yourself, it is only Twelve Steps out!” At one of the first meetings I ever went to, a brilliant guy named Joe said, “My dishwasher came with an instruction manual, but I didn’t…and then I found the Big Book and the 12 & 12.”

    When I call my sponsor in distress about anything (from an unexpected illness…to worrying about a child…to running out of money...to relationship troubles) she will say to me, “Which Step do you have to work on now?”

    At first telling me to look to the steps drove me nuts and I wanted to scream, “I’m not like everyone else. There is no simple cookie-cutter solution to MY problem! Nowhere in the steps does it say anything about…(fill in the blank.)”  But then I started to do what she said and review the steps. They seem to work in any and every situation.

    What am I powerless over that I am trying to control? Who has more knowledge or expertise than I in this situation? Should I ask for help? What have I done to make the situation what it is? What habit or behavior of mine is playing into this? Can I let it go? Do I owe someone an apology or do I have to amend a counterproductive habit of my own? Am I taking time to stop, breathe, and ask HP for help? Am I practicing an attitude of gratitude and service?

    Then I go to a meeting and discover in The Fellowship that I am not alone. Others have faced and handled situations just like the one I find myself in. I listen to their stories in speaker meetings and comments in discussion or literature meetings. I learn from those who know what works and what doesn’t. I do not have to solve problems that others have already solved if I am open and willing enough to listen. I can choose to be happy rather than right. I can relax and enjoy myself, not taking myself so seriously but instead enjoying this walk along the path of happy destiny.

    And then we come to the best part: Service. By staying sober through the Program and staying centered through the Fellowship, I can be present for others. I can be a gift instead of a problem in the lives of others. John and I were practically shedding tears of gratitude when we were talking about this a couple of nights ago: Is there anything more wonderful than being there for someone else? For having relationships that are filled with trust and respect instead of rancor and tumult? Isn’t it an honor to be approached by a newcomer who, nervously and in fear of rejection, asks you to be their sponsor? Isn’t it fun to share your hobby with someone else, realizing that you do have expertise?

    Not drinking or using is the foundation. And upon that, thanks to Alcoholics Anonymous, we build lives of meaning, fellowship and service.

© Recovery Ministries of the Episcopal Church
Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software