This is a story about step eleven. its not really an al-anon story. but its a good story and like all good stories it has a moral, and I like the way I tell it.
One day I was walking along the beach after a meeting. I saw an old man walking toward me. Every so often, he would kneel down, pick something up and study it for a moment. Then, he would either put it back on the beach or throw it into the sea. As we drew nearer to each other, I noticed that the beach was littered with starfish, washed up by the tide. The old man was searching for live ones and returning them to the sea. When we were close enough to speak, I told him how pointless his efforts were. There were too many of them. He could not possibly make a difference. In reply, he threw a living starfish into the sea, and said, It made a difference to that one. Then, he leaned closer, adding, I could use a little help.
I have been a member of Alcoholics Anonymous for almost 10 years, but I have only been a sober member of Alcoholics Anonymous for close to six. I became a sober member during a snowstorm on the Trans Canada Highway on the 4th day of December, 1997. I only remember the date because that was the day that I found my higher power. Now, he didnt come to me in a blinding flash of light. The earth didnt move. Time didnt stand still. But, something of great monument definitely happened that day.
I had been hitch-hiking in that storm for 4 days as a result of my last drunk. I was almost dead from exposure. Up until this point, I had rejected the spiritual aspects of the program. My, that was a gentle way to put it. In all honesty, by the time I walked through the doors of AA, I did not believe in God , I did not want to believe in God and I did not care if you believed in God just so long as you did your believing someplace else. One of the old timers had always told me, If you dont bend your knees, youll bend your elbow, meaning that if I didnt ask for Gods help, I would drink again. Well, for four years I refused to bend my knees and for four years, I bent my elbow. I had become as willing to listen as only the dying can be.
So, in a little country church just outside of Meductic, New Brunswick God and me had a little meeting. I thanked Him for keeping me sober and alive as long as he had already and I asked Him to keep me sober and alive just a little bit longer, long enough for me to get back home to AA. In return, I promised that I would try to believe a little bit more.
When I got up from my praying, I knew that something was different. Its difficult to explain. I felt stronger. I felt something I had not felt in many years. Hope.
Later that day, in the evening, I was in Fredericton, New Brunswick, on the telephone to an AA member I barely knew, explaining my situation. That man got in his car and drove 200 km in a snowstorm to save me from freezing to death. They say God works through people. That night, he used the two of us to work a miracle. The following day I was back home, in an AA meeting. God kept his half of the deal. It was up to me to do my part.
I was homeless. I was jobless. There were many nights I slept on sofas, and in meeting rooms and in doorways. It was the closest I ever came to skid row. The fellowship carried me most of the way. My sponsor was always there, telling me things he had learned. He used to say, the men who cry for food and shelter before conquering alcohol are on the wrong track. Get sober first, he would say and then all those other things will fall into place. Have a little faith he would say. And, so I did. I went to lots of meetings. I hung around with sober members of AA. I prayed every day.
Eventually, I moved into a transition house for men in the early stages of recovery from alcohol and drugs. It was a local place, everyone knew about it. The manager was a sober member of AA. Most of the guys who worked there were in one fellowship or another. There were lots of times when we would sit around and talk program. And, Id be lying if I said it hadnt made a difference.
I did not live there very long. I managed to find work and met someone who was also in the program and we decided to trudge the road together. As my sponsor had pointed out, things were falling into place. The following year, I was forced to leave my job for health reasons and seek employment in another field.
Larry M., the fellow who had saved my life in that storm, was working as an Attendant in the transition home where I had lived and he said he could get me a job working there. I figured, what a great way to give something back. Like any place of employment, there were rules to follow. Well, I have this problem. I dont like being told what to do. My ego reared its ugly head, and I resigned.
I would like to point out here that I was wrong in my decision, but at the time I believed I was right. I sought counsel from other persons. I went to meetings and shared about it. I read literature on the subject. I did almost everything that I should have done in order to arrive at my decision. The one thing I did not do was ask for guidance from God.
I just went ahead and did what I thought God would have me do. I took another job, as a laundry worker, washing dirty underwear for minimum wage. The place I worked in had a five-foot high ceiling. I am six feet tall. Yep. I sure showed them who was in charge. I had lots of time to read on the job. So I read my Twelve and Twelve. I became active in service work and got some satisfaction from that, but something was not right. I couldnt put my finger on it. My sponsor asked me if I had talked to God about this yet. Well, I hadnt of course.
So, thats what I did. I got down on my knees at work and said one simple prayer, Please, God, show me what to do.
The next day, my old boss called me and told me that the caseworker had resigned and asked if I would be willing to take the position. Better hours. Better money. Well, naturally, I told him Id think about it. I guess that sometimes I get so focused on what I believe Gods will is that I am unable to see what Gods will actually is. Sometimes I need to be hit with a two-by-four. Well, that is precisely what God did that night.
I was celebrating my third anniversary at my home group. The speaker was a gentleman about my age. Id asked him to speak about 3 months ago. Oh, did I mention that he was a resident at the house where I had worked? He talked about how he had respected me for working there and for resigning because of my strong sense of principles. He said that I had made a difference.
Suddenly, it was all so clear
I accepted the position. God found a way to bring me back again. And in case you're wondering, I am not there to get them sober. I am there to keep them alive long enough so that they can get sober. And sure, we talk program. I can only hope to make a difference.
Have a great day, unless you have other plans.
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" Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional."
"Serenity is when your body and mind are in the same place."