My name is David, and I am a member of Alcoholics Anonymous.
I have asked Steve to deliver this message to all of you who are present this evening. It is my desire to extend my experience, strength and hope with you. Your presence indicates your desire to share what I have come to extend, and I thank each of you for being here.
We usually start our meetings with a moment of silence, followed by the Serenity Prayer. If this has not been the case, forgive me. But if it has, then please see now that we have come together to request from God serenity, acceptance, courage and wisdom. If the request is made to Him for these things, each person has them now. His giving is timeless since He is beyond time. If this is not true, then why are we asking for these things?
Sharing is a sharing of experience, strength and hope. So I do not have much of a drunk-a-logue to offer you. But since I have asked for wisdom, I wish to share this with each of you. I came to New Horizon in 1985, after a false start in 1984. It was exactly one year and one week that I returned to AA for the second time.
I drank from the age of seventeen until I was twenty-nine. I was raised in an environment that promoted the use of alcohol freely, OFC whiskey, wine, but mostly beer. And drugs. OFC stands for only for Catholics. I am also a recovered Catholic. I have come to see that without these surroundings, I may never had sought recovery and sobriety. A helpless state welcomes mercy. To parents and friends then who encouraged my drinking do I owe the most gratitude. It has not changed much in my family. Nevertheless, I have changed.
Without looking to someone else for an answer and in a quiet moment of meditation, I asked once, “What is sobriety?” I only had to ask once. I found out it is far greater than, “Don’t drink and go to meetings.” It was shown to me that sobriety is soundness of mind. A sound mind is a sane mind. Bill W. suggests on pg. 23 of the Big Book that the main problem centers in the mind, not the body.
The mind is not the brain. The mind is not physical. But the sick mind has affected the brain and the body with its sick ideas. The answer to the sick mind cannot be found through the body or the brain. AA is not a physical answer. But the answer for the sick mind will affect the body and the brain providing the answer comes from beyond the body and the brain. This makes AA a spiritual answer for a dispirited mind.
My experience, strength and hope has been to discover if the answer cannot be found by the body or the brain, then it must be greater than the answers the brain gives. Drinking was not my problem. The ideas that caused my drinking were.
What is physical is limited. A spiritual answer then is one that is beyond the limited comprehension of the brain. I must rise to the Answer, rather than attempting to bring the Answer down to my limited misunderstanding. It was my confusion that led me to AA. It would hardly be wise to now rely on it for my answers. If I am still confused after ten years, I have not recovered, even though the Big Book clearly states, “We have recovered,” many times.
I was often told by the senior members of AA that I asked too many questions, and that I should not analyze the program, but rather accept it. This bothered me since I saw that they themselves were asking me to accept, while they could not accept my desire to question.
To desire to learn more than what is already assumed makes learning a threat to a shallow mind. Experience has shown me those who have remained shallow would often tell me that I should not intellectualize the program, meaning stay passive as they were. How could I, if I have come to recover from passivity?
I soon saw that reliance on others would never alleviate my dependency on them. The ego thinks it can recover. It thinks recovery is based on being without alcohol, going to meetings and talking about powerlessness. I saw that if I wanted what they had, I was doomed. So I sought what they did not have. I learned they were actually helping me by not allowing me to accept their answers or becoming dependent on them. I had to seek His Answers.
A sound mind is not a mind that serves the physical world of time. It seeks the spiritual world of timelessness. Time is an anxious, limiting idea. For me, in order to come to sanity, I would have to rise to a Power that is in me but not of me. In the Big Book, I read on page 59, “But there is one who has all power, that one is God. May you find Him now.” The thought came to me that if He has all power, how could I find Him?
Where is my power if He has it all? If He has all the power, I must not have any power. How then can I find Him without power? I said, “Come on Bill, are you crazy? Were you on a slip when you wrote this? Is God Who has all power hopefully going to lend me some power? And why is He hiding in the first place? Is He lost, or am I?” I assumed Step One says that I am powerless. It doesn’t.
Then I discovered that it takes power to admit powerlessness. It takes power to destroy my own mind. So the power has always been with me. It is not that I have no power. It is that I have misused it. I gave it all to the ego to destroy my mind and thus my brain.
I watched others in the rooms as I struggled and learned that there are two kinds of people in AA; those who assume and accumulate everything they hear and go around parroting what others have said, and those who question everything they hear.
Those who conclude what they hear have transferred their addictions and have become dependent on AA, on others, on the world, on a God who remains vague and uncertain to them. Those who question have remained independent and free of the conclusions regarding recovery. I had to ask myself which one I was.
In the Serenity Prayer, we ask God for serenity, acceptance, courage and wisdom. Would He deny this request? And if so, why? I have asked Him for every one of these words. It is His message to me as well as to you who listen to it. I cannot judge from where the words come. But I can accept the responsibility for offering them.
The prayer says, “God, grant me the serenity, to accept the things I cannot change.” It is a request to God. Those who have a problem with God and still recite the prayer are not being honest. It is better to hate openly than it is to pretend to love. I have learned that there is only one thing I cannot change, and that is God, the Giver of Life.
He is changeless. I cannot change Him. Defining Him according to my specifications changes my understanding of Him, but it cannot change Him. In Step Two, “Came to believe” is not Came to decide. It is, Came to doubt, Came to question. Would I be happy if someone else were defining me? Why do we do this with Him? Who can tell God Who He is? We hardly know who we are. We have made ourselves more real, wiser, more intelligent than the Source from Which we come.
“Courage to change the things I can,” is the courage to change my ideas about Him. Only this needs to be changed. Then He can change me, rather than my worrying about changing myself. The ego has taught me I am separate from Him. But I taught the ego to teach me this. I can change my will to be different from Him, but He created my mind, not me.
Who can say he created his own mind? If we did, why do we have so much trouble with it? I cannot separate from Power because I did not create the Power. So it must still be in me somewhere. If I never see this, I will remain powerless, using the power to do so.
My experience has shown me that if I define what God or Power or Life is, I cannot ever learn of a Higher Power. A conception of a Power greater than myself means I conceive Power. To conceive is to allow to be born in me. I must welcome Him. I am impregnated with His Power. Who would seek His Power only to say, “I am powerless.”? This is not sane. How can three million powerless minds grow to cover 147 countries?
As long as I conclude the nature of this Being, I will never learn of Him, since I already think I have. “Wisdom to know the difference” shows me the difference between my definition of Him as opposed to His definition of me and my relationship with Him.
“God as we understand Him” does not mean I select a Higher Power. It means to stand under Him, rather than placing the purpose of my life in the ego’s hands. Cigarettes were a power greater than myself at one time. Does this mean God is a cigarette? Or is He the Power that helped me overcome this addiction as well?
To stand under Power is to be lifted by Power into Power. The action is effortless, because Power is effortless. Where effort is required to recover, there is no power. If the Steps do not inspire me, something is wrong. The ego is then my guide, and I will say, “My name is so and so, I am an alcoholic and I am powerless.”
Each day I dedicate several hours, morning and evening, to doing a personal inventory. I do not miss a day that I do not give the Creator of the mind all of my mind. The action of emptying my mind of all that rules it places Him in charge, where my own will to remain unfulfilled is ended.
Thank you for listening. I thank Steve also for reading this message for me. To each of you do I leave these blessings as they have been imparted to me. In an instant, where there is no time, my awareness enters you and stays with you forever. If you think of me, I will hear you. It is He Who says the mind was created this way.
What we have joined tonight to share cannot ever be undone, but there is no doubt that it can be denied.
Happy Birthday and God bless each of you.
“The Key Man”