The Paradox Box
Welcome to the Paradox Box. It seems that our program is rife with paradoxes. At a meeting in Fort Dodge I once saw a sign on the wall that went something like this: “From weakness comes strength. We give it away to keep it. We suffer to get well. We surrender to win. We die to live. From darkness comes light. From dependence we found independence.”
For me, today, the most meaningful of these is, “We surrender to win.” This is because I always flattered myself in believing that I had so much fortitude, guts, strength and willpower that I could beat this disease by myself. With a hangover at eight A.M. I would resolve that I was not going to the tavern that day. But by three that afternoon I was feeling so much better that it seemed my car pulled into the parking lot by itself. Then, “Katy bar the door!”, it would start all over again.
It was not until I finally gave up the fight — surrendered — that I found peace. Now, with my H.P. next to me, helping me do what I could not do by myself life is so much better.
That’s just me. How about you? Do you have a favorite paradox? Why not write it down and send it in. You never know when we say/write something that turns out to be just the very thing someone needed to hear or read. Ed.
Prayer of Francis of Assisi
I learned this prayer in church as a child. The language used by my particular denomination is only slightly different from the version printed in the “Twelve by Twelve” shown below. E.g., “instrument” versus “channel”; “injury” versus “discord”; or, “Divine Master” versus “Lord.” But the meaning is always the same and the message is clear and powerful.
It was not until I joined our fellowship however, that I came to really appreciate the significance of this prayer. Having lived for many years with the terrible feelings of guilt, shame and remorse that many of us suffer, I find the language “…by forgiving that one is forgiven…” to be especially comforting.
After I began this journey I “hid” from my very best friend. We have known each other for 40 years and had been through “thick and thin” together. Nevertheless I was embarrassed and did not want to be around anyone wherein I would have to acknowledge my “weaknesses” and all the havoc that I had wrought. He called me dozens of times but I never returned his calls. He finally wrote to my wife. She later showed me his letter. In it he had remarked that maybe when I learned to forgive myself I would contact him again. I have forgiven myself a great deal since then thanks to AA and though I never wish to “shut the door on the [past]” we have rekindled our friendship.
I think the following is a wonderful prayer anytime and in these troubled days it seems particularly poignant. Ed.
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Its author was a man who for several hundred years now has been rated as a saint. We won’t be biased or scared off by that fact, because although he was not an alcoholic he did, like us, go through the emotional wringer. And as he came out the other side of that painful experience, this prayer was his expression of what he could then see, feel, and wish to become:
“Lord, make me a channel of thy peace–that where there is hatred, I may bring love–that where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness–that where there is discord, I may bring harmony–that where there is error, I may bring truth–that where there is doubt, I may bring faith–that where there is despair, I may bring hope–that where there are shadows, I may bring light–that where there is sadness, I may bring joy. Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort than to be comforted–to understand, than to be understood–to love, than to be loved. For it is by self-forgetting that one finds. It is by forgiving that one is forgiven. It is by dying that one awakens to Eternal Life. Amen.”
1 Alcoholics Anonymous, The Story of How Many Thousands of Men and Women Have Recovered from Alcoholism, Fourth Edition, New and Revised 2001, Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., New York City, p. 83.
2 The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, Alcoholics Anonymous® World Services, Inc., 459 Grand Central Station, New York, NY 10163, Copyright 1981, 48th printing, 2009, p. 99.
If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the
word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole atti tude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will in tuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.
Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us—sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them.
from Alcoholics Anonymous, pp. 83 – 85, ed.
I’ve found that people choose their home group by what a particular meeting gives you. A group that you feel has something to offer. A feeling that you can progress within that meeting and with its members. In other words, a meeting where you already feel at home.
When you choose that meeting as your home group, you are making a commitment to Continue reading “Importance of a Home Group”
You have to wonder if anyone appreciates parking lots as much as we alcoholics. Of course, I’m not talking about having a parking space. I’m talking about the way we gather outside the parking lot before and after our A. A. meetings. In fact, one reason why I dislike winter so much, and welcome the return of warmer weather every year is because of how these seasons effect our time in the parking lot. If it’s winter, we endure the cold and talk about missing the warm nights. If it’s summer, then we get to linger around and move from one conversation to the other as we watch the sky grow darker and darker as the sun slips away. I have had chats with fellow A.A.’s after a meeting that have lasted as long as the meeting itself. Sometimes longer.
Matt told me about living on the east coast, how he ended up here and how much he likes Des Moines. And he likes Des Moines not because we are a big tourist attraction, he likes it here because Continue reading “Parking lots.”
My topic today is Resentment and how it is better to give than to receive a resentment. You may be thinking to yourself what do you mean by the word resentment. There are many definitions of the word resentment. One of my favorites is derived by breaking the word into it’s parts re- doing again and sentment meaning feeling. Resentment means feeling again or wallowing in the feelings generated by things that happened a long time ago or as recently as this morning on his way to church, when that son of a….. nevermind.
Webster’s defines a resentment as “a feeling of indignant displeasure or persistent ill will at something regarded as a wrong, insult, or injury”. The part that stands out to me is persistent ill will. Some people base their whole lives on resentments things that happened Continue reading “Resentment”
In more and more meetings today, people announce themselves as being an alcoholic and then whatever their second addiction may be: i.e. “I’m an alcoholic and a drug addict,” or “I’m an alcoholic and cross-addicted,” or “I’m chemically addicted and an alcoholic.”
This identification process, which originates in treatment centers, has slowly crept into common usage at our meetings. There is nothing especially wrong with the idea here, but is it really necessary that we announce our secondary afflictions and maybe more to the point, should we allow it?
Thank God for the treatment centers that are sending so many newcomers to AA, as we surely want and need these people. However, we do not need the treatment center practices that they bring with them. Treatment centers generally consider alcohol to be Continue reading “I’m an alcoholic and a …………”
When I am all about me my life becomes miserable. I don’t always recognize why things are not going well, but it usually boils down to the need to get out of my head. Meetings help me to do this because I am trying to listen and help others. It allows me at least an hour to get away from me. Calling someone also allows me to do what I am supposed to be doing…which is helping others. Thank God I didn’t have to come up with this on my own. I only need to follow the direction of people who went ahead of me and I only need to do that if I want what they have.
The real prize
I attend a meeting where they sell tickets for a raffle as well as hand out tickets for being ‘called up’ to share. I used to buy raffle tickets but conveniently forgot to get a call up ticket. Sometimes I would win a raffle prize. I thought it was great that my number was called. Then I started to take Continue reading “ME… ME… ME.”