Service = Rent to Live

Service is the rent we pay to be on this earth. ~ Anon

My first experience with the notion of service happened on my first day in another 12 step program. I had been sober (dry drunk) for 3 + years, angry, and completely defeated. My disease had taken another direction. So, in desperation, I called the number listed. The lady who answered the phone had convinced me that if I came to the meeting at 9 AM the next day, “we can talk more.”  I thought, “cool, free therapy!” So, I showed up. That in and of itself was a miracle. I never got out of bed before 1-2 PM on Saturdays! But, something awoke me and there I was, my three year old in tow. The lady was nice enough. She said, “let’s put out these chairs and this literature.” So, I helped with that. Pretty soon others came into the room, so she said, “we can talk after the meeting.”  My thought was at least I could still be listened to for free (after all, she had promised). Well, the meeting ended, and everyone greeted each other and me (no hugs, please. They hurt!) As people filed out, I positioned myself next to her, so she could hear my “story”. She turned to me and said, “let’s put these chairs and that literature away.”  That was it. She said to call her the next day, and thanked me for helping out.

I learned from that, that service is a major part of this deal. If I wanted to feel worthwhile and be a part of something that would bring me joy; service would be a part of that belonging. It is a give and a take. This month we will be working on Step #12 and Tradition #12. Both of these have to do with working with others and being of service. Service will keep your hands and mouth busy. Addicts like us need to keep our mouths and hands busy and out of trouble. Most days, I am too busy helping others and doing service, that I have no time to dwell on my own “issues”. I no longer have to have others listen to my “story”. May you find more sobriety in service.

Final Tradition #9 Questions

We speak, as best we can, in support of respecting the AA traditions within our group, leaving the results up to our Higher Power. ~ Anon

We are winding down on another month. I am always amazed at how fast time flies by, especially when I am involved in something meaningful to me; like this blog. It seems to me that there is so little time and so much to say/share. That is one thing I have never run out of = things to say! haha.

The final questions in tradition # 9 are as follows:

  1. Are we afraid to speak up when we see the traditions being ignored in our group?
  2. Can we do the footwork in our AA service and trust the results to our HP, even when things don’t go the way we think they should?
  3. Do we practice rotation of leadership in our group?
  4. Do we discuss how rotation of leadership relates to personal humility and the foundation of our group’s anonymity? When we follow the traditions, we find that there is very little need  for rules and regulations. We do not have to police each other, as even new people recognize that they have an equal say in all matters pertaining to the group. We can all relax and recover.

Being A Part Of

Our real purpose is to fit ourselves to be of maximum service to G.O.D.

and the people about us. ~ Big Book

Being a part of something greater than myself (not apart from) is the essence of this thing called fellowship. I was asked just yesterday by my only “normy” friend why I go to AA if I have been sober for over 31 years. I said that this is a life long commitment. Beyond that, I do not think anyone who is not involved in this program would understand why we keep coming back, why we call ourselves alcoholic when we no longer drink, or what we do in our our meetings. I have to remember that AA is for those who want it, not those who need it.  If it were the prior, there would not be enough chairs in the building to occupy.

So, why do we old timers keep coming back? We give back freely what was freely given to us. Our appearance and sharing at meetings is a form of service. It is our primary purpose to be of service to HP and others.

G.O.D. does not call those who qualify; but does qualify those who are called. Sometimes, I do not know when I will be called, but I do know in my heart of hearts that the skills and words will be furnished. Sometimes, I just open my mouth and the words fall out. There are other times (like funerals) where I ask that the right words be given. It all works when we work it. And, we are worth it. Keep coming back, you just never know who will be there that needs to hear what you have to say.

Beautiful Spirit of Caring Service

When we keep tradition #8’s spirit of fellowship, we discover a beautiful spirit of caring service which becomes a powerful factor in our healing. ~ Anon

Some new members wonder why we bother to send money to district, intergroup, and the General Service Office. We do so to help deliver the message of recovery. We need special workers who are sometimes paid to run the offices, maintain the call-in centers, type up meeting lists, answer calls/emails, read the mail, do the accounting, manage the websites, set up and advertise the events, etc. The work of AA is 24/7, 365 days a year. This dis-ease does not rest or take vacations, and neither do the dedicated recovering folks in AA. We take our recovery wherever we go. We deliver the message of recovery in all four corners of this earth. We must, or we die.

The mainstay of my program is service. I have been consistently involved in some way or fashion for many years. I find the challenge of learning new things, watching others recover, and being involved in AA’s growth and prosperity a healing factor in my recovery process. Each day, I wake up wondering how can I be of service, not how I can feed my own wants and desires. I wake up saying, “thank G.O.D., it is morning!” Before AA, I would proclaim, “good G.O.D.! It’s morning!” Thank goodness for AA, and thank goodness there is AA service work to be done that I can help with.  Pitch in. It will make all the difference in the world.

Human Beings

We are human beings, not human doings. ~ Anon

As humans, we have limits. There is just so much we can do and nothing more. We know that to be true when we hit that wall of fatigue and exhaustion. Those of us in service to AA recognize the need to stay in our own lane, do that which we can do and no more, and to share the load when it comes to AA service projects. Most healthy meetings know and practice the wisdom of sharing service responsibilities. Yes, chairs and literature need to be set out. Yes, someone needs to lead, make coffee, get supplies/medallions, represent the group at the intergroup level, be the contact/secretary/treasurer, etc.

How long should we do service work? According to tradition #8, it is customary that most group level jobs are  for one year only. This keeps the work from becoming one person’s burden. It also helps the group stay strong, as new people will have a chance to do service, and there will be fresh eyes/minds that may bring new life into the situation. There is plenty to do. Invite new people into service work. Invite them to join you at intergroup meetings, and take them to retreats and workshops. The more they become involved in AA and have things to keep them responsible to their recovery community, the less time they will have to fight this dis-ease. Nice plan, right?

End of Isolation

In Step *8, pg. 82 of the 12 X 12 it promises this: “It is the beginning of the end of our isolation from our fellows and G.O.D”. I came into the program as an proud, card carrying agnostic. It took several years and some very strong sponsorship that insisted on G.O.D. = good orderly direction (like praying, meditating, meetings, eating breakfast, getting to bed at a reasonable hour, service, etc.) to set me on a spiritual path. I do believe now in a power greater than myself. It is Mother Nature or the universe. Those are constants that preexisted me and will be here in some shape or form far past when I depart. There is a rhyme and a rhythm that I can depend on, and a concreteness that I can understand.

As a loner, I appreciate my alone time, but I do depend on fellowship and G.O.D. when I get stuck or cannot move beyond a certain issue or personal conflict. I like to call my sponsor daily or text, just to hear another human being. I usually call someone new in AA and an older timer daily. Service is my main thing in recovery. I like to keep my mouth and hands busy in productive things. I do a daily 10-12, pray, and meditate (an active form) daily. My recovery pace is as active (if not more) now than it ever was. In long term recovery, it is essential to keep up our efforts, lest we become complacent. Keep doing daily those things that got you sober in the first place.