If tempted, we recoil from it as if from a hot flame. ~ pg. 84 Big Book
Most of us were not normal when it came to alcohol and other mood altering substances. We never will be. We are the same kids who when the hot flame burnt our fingers, we went back and tried to touch it again and again….just to see if we would get burned again. I think it is tantamount to going out into my yard first thing in the morning, picking up a cement paver, and smacking myself in the forehead with it. Then I spend the rest of the day wondering why I am bleeding, in pain and have a headache. I just had trouble connecting the dots. Then some smart-aleck old timer told me, that perhaps I did not want to connect the dots or even bother looking at them.
I hate when people point out the obvious. Don’t you? But, I love the truth teller all the same. What a gift we get from AA: people who give a dang about us, who call and ask if we are ok, who listen and respond as if we matter, etc. What a huge gift. We are never alone in this program. Never. Last night, I saw four people come back through the doors. They went out to experiment. They are a gift as well. They remind me to work this program, stay sober, and not go near the hot flame. They just reminded me that anyone of us will get burnt if we even come near that flame. Stay safe. Stay sober. We need you.
The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others. ~ Gandhi
If you are wondering how you can be self-supporting on a limited budget, let me introduce you to the wonderful concept of service to others. Service is the rent we pay to dwell on this earth. Each time you give service, you open your spiritual world to growth potential a little bit more. It also widens your spiritual community.
I would not have met all the wonderful people in AA from all over the world and from backgrounds and religions completely unlike my own. Service can be as simple as making coffee, putting out the literature, leading a meeting, or just staying late to help clean up. It is all that easy and simple. Each hour spent in service is one more hour of sobriety. Give freely what you were freely given and do service.
The key word for tradition #7 is responsibility. With responsibility comes freedom. We give back freely that which we were given freely. In my experience, the alcoholics who stay in AA are those who get involved in service on day #1. Service can be as simple as making coffee, putting out literature, greeting others, or speaking at the meetings. Service keeps our minds, hands, and mouths busy; so we cannot find time to self-destruct or to be destructive toward others. Doesn’t that sound like a good idea? Through the steps and traditions, we are promise a life of sane and useful purposefulness.
I will take that any day in exchange for feeling depressed, anxious, undeserving, useless, and self-pitying. Most alcoholics come in with a whole lifetime of not belonging; and feeling useless and not trusted. We learn quickly this stuff that includes being apart of, unconditional love and acceptance, and trust. Heck, people offer us their phone numbers when most of our closest relatives won’t take our calls. Isn’t that something? Recovering people in AA offer us solace, love, and compassion when most of us have been disowned or kicked out of society. What a gift this program offers. What a deal. And, all we have to do is stay sober and give back freely what we were given freely. Such a deal!
In tradition 7 it suggests that we are self-supporting. We are asked to contribute; not to save AA or make AA richer, rather to help meetings will stay strong and stay opened for the next generations of desperate drunks who are seeking recovery. We give back freely, what we were freely given. That brings up the matter of how we can contribute when we have a limit on resources.
One thing that some of you may share in common with me is a limited financial capability. We are concerned that we cannot afford the literature, or that we do not give as much as others do. We wonder if we are equal to others. We fear that perhaps those who contribute more should have more say so. Fear not, service is another way to contribute. We may not have a lot of cash to give, but being of service is of equal value. Someone needs to lead meetings, make coffee, set up chairs/tables, speak, help new people, etc. There is plenty of work to do. The next time you go to your meeting, show up early and greet people, and ask what you can do for the group. Believe me, you will be freer and more equal. Be apart of not apart from.
It’s not easy to find happiness in ourselves,
and it is not possible to find it elsewhere. ~ Agnes Repple
In using tradition #7 we can be more autonomous, each voice counts equally, and no one person or outside group can control how the meeting or service group functions. We are truly free. When one person or an outside entity seeks to control by running the purse strings, we all suffer. It is very much like booze. We bring booze into our lives as the answer to all of our problems and as a house guest. Pretty soon the guest becomes the not welcomed, demanding occupant. It soon becomes the head of household, followed quickly as the lord and master. Pretty soon, we are out of hearth and home with nothing left to call our own.
We lose our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness by allowing any person, thing, entity, or outside institution/group to run our lives and our meetings and control our proverbial pocketbook. In order to be autonomous in thought and act, we need to have an equal stake in what is decided, be an equal in what we contribute, and give as much service as the next person. Without this autonomy, it is impossible to be completely free. We are now adults, so the victim game is no longer needed. This program is a program of freedom and choice. Choose autonomy and thereby choose freedom.