M(3), 1/18/16: Play it Again, Sam

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Today is the first big change in my rotating literature line-up.  Normally we would start with Step One in the 12 steps of recovery; today we started with Step Twelve and will work our way backwards throughout the year.  This change is an attempt to:

  1. shake things up after more than 3 years
  2. prevent the inevitable moans and groans in April and September… oh no!  another meeting on taking a moral inventory/making amends!

We’ll see how it goes.

Doing it this way presented two challenges, both of which occurred this month and are, as of this writing, done!  The first is that we just read this chapter last month, and the second is the chapter is a looonnnnggg one!

In any event, the 14 attendees did not complain (much), and now we are smooth sailing for the rest of the year!

So, for the record, and even though I just wrote about this a few weeks ago, Step 12 reads:

Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

I shared a few take-aways from this morning’s reading.  First, it is a good reminder that being of service is valuable all year long.  I don’t know about anyone else, but for me December tends to be a lot about others, January tends to be a lot about me… New Year’s resolutions and all that.  So a reminder to get out of my own head is a necessary one, right about now!

Second, the actual section I read aloud gave a poignant description of a spiritual awakening:

In a very real sense he had been transformed, because he has laid hold of a source of strength which, in one way or another, he had hitherto denied himself.  He finds himself in possession of a degree of honesty, tolerance, unselfishness, peace of mind, and love of which he had thought himself quite incapable.  What he has received is a free gift, and yet usually, in some small part, he has made himself ready to receive it.  -Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, pg. 107

What stood out to me this morning is that while I feel grateful to have received this gift, it is not a one-and-done endeavor.  Ongoing cultivation and growth is in fact necessary to keep this gift in one’s life.

Even though we are only 3 weeks into the new year, I have already attended three funerals, and am awaiting details on a fourth later this week.  I’ll speak for myself when I say… that is too high a number for my liking!  The last funeral I attended, this past Friday, was particularly hard to take:  an absolutely wonderful man, whose life, though marked with some impossible-to-imagine tragedy, was a shining example of grace and dignity in the face of severe adversity.

It was a challenge this weekend to not focus on the sadness of this death.  The reading this morning is a reminder that it is during times of much spiritual challenge is, hopefully, much spiritual growth.

From there a regular attendee shared she had a rough 2015 in terms of deaths and funerals.  In fact, those very situations are what caused her to pick up a drink after several years of sobriety, and she is just now getting back on her feet, recovery-wise.  So the reminder that spiritual awakenings take ongoing work is a lesson she has learned the hard way.

Another gentleman shared that he loved starting the new year with the last step, rather than the first, for one simple reason:  it sums up the whole of our program.  In fact, the chapter is such a long one because it takes the time to review all of the steps that come before it.  He said when he first started attending meetings, an “old-timer” told him to start with reading this chapter.  He said it clearly states what the Fellowship has to offer.  If, after reading, you decide you want what the Fellowship has to offer, then keep coming back!

Another member seconded the motion that step 12 is valuable to read up front.  For him it was like flipping to the end of a mystery novel:  now you know what you have to anticipate!

A friend talked about the need for ongoing self-development as well.  Even though she has a few years under her belt, it is easy to slide backwards.  She told a story from this very morning of a grumpy husband, and her reaction to his mood.  She reviewed her behavior, and while she sees the progress from where she once was, she also knew that there was more she could have done.  Immediately, she went back to her husband and “cleaned up her side of the street.”  She said time will tell if her husband chooses to forgive and move on; for now, it is enough to know she did the next right thing.

I told her she must come back next week, because she is leaving us with a cliffhanger… will the husband forgive and forget?  Stay tuned!

Today’s Miracle:

The value of service on Martin Luther King Jr. Day!

 

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Posted on January 18, 2016, in Monday Meeting Miracles, Recovery and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. There is an oldtimer who was a regular at a particular meeting I frequented very regularly as a newcomer. He is still around, still sober but sadly in a home now and not in a position to continue to share his wisdom. He is the second longest sober member in my local area with continuous sobriety of over 40 years. He helped start several of our local meetings.
    Anyway – he used to stressed that the spiritual awakening it mentions is as a result of trying to do the steps – you can’t get it by not was his position. Also he stressed the “in all our affairs” as well. Took me some years until my drink fogged brain realised what that meant – I wasn’t just needing to be honest, patient, non-judgemental, helpful and trustworthy within the rooms but also at home, in the office, with people I met in the street, those that I had to deal with in companies and government who I felt didn’t have my best interests at heart etc. Along with being honest with myself (as it tells me I have to be before I start the steps in the intro to them in Chapter 5 of the big book) this is the bit that I find the most difficult in my programme of recovery.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Funny story… I read this yesterday morning on the run. In the afternoon, I had a shopping trip. Almost all the items were scanned, and I was arranging bags in the cart, when I spotted a deodorant I forgot to put on the conveyor belt. I quickly signalled to the cashier, “Wait! I need to pay for this!” and she commented on my honesty. To which I said, “of course.” And then I remembered this comment and thought, “No, not of course. Not even close to of course. This has been a skill learned in recovery.” Not that I was a petty grocery store thief, but dishonesty is dishonesty, and now I know how important it is, for me, to keep my side of the street clean at all times. Thanks for taking the time to write this out, it is so important to remember!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a fun way to shake things up! What are you reading next week? I would like to read it at home. Lori

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ooh, next week is ANOTHER shake-up, we are reading the new AA-approved book, Forming True Partnerships. We previewed it a few months back, and now we’ve decided to bring it into the rotation once a month. I am excited for this change, it’s a brand new book, so new material!

      Liked by 1 person

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