Saturday, October 29, 2011

Galatians 1:7

...which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. ~ Galatians 1:7 (NIV)

Once confused and baffled by the seeming futility of existence, they show the underlying reasons why they were making heavy going of life. Leaving aside the drink question, they tell why living was so unsatisfactory. They show how the change came over them. When many hundreds of people are able to say that the consciousness of the Presence of God is today the most important fact of their lives, they present a powerful reason why one should have faith. (Alcoholics Anonymous, pages 50-51)

I trust only me
and chase my tail,
follow a trailblazer
to deserts I despise,
flit like a butterfly,
flower to flower to flower,
drift like a balloon
to popular causes,
the thing du jour.
As long as I'm my own
higher power,
or I choose other lower higher powers,
I wander, dissatisfied.
Once I become conscious
of the Presence of God,
I know the path
to all I want or need.

God, sometimes I need 
blinders. When I'm distracted,
nudge me.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Galatians 1:6

I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God, who called you to himself through the loving mercy of Christ. (Galatians 1:6, NLT)

Above all, he believed he had acquired such a profound knowledge of the inner workings of his mind and its hidden springs that relapse was unthinkable. Nevertheless, he was drunk in a short time. More baffling still, he could give himself no satisfactory explanation for his fall. (Alcoholics Anonymous, page 26)

From the welcoming arms,
the sense of relief,
the portal to recovery,
shouldn't the path lead only in?
How did I manage to turn,
how did I go back out?
So soon, and without
a thought,
without a reason,
abandoning the hope
I'd found...
I know others who never got back,
who let embarrassment win,
whose pride locked the door.
But some, including me,
made a U-turn
and reentered, determined to stay,
knowing how easy
leaving was,
how glorious staying

God, give me the sense
to stay put
in recovery.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Galatians 1:3-5

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forevermore. Amen. (Gal. 1:3-5 NASV)

We are like the passengers of a great liner the moment after rescue from shipwreck when camaraderie, joyousness and democracy pervade the vessel from steerage to Captain's table. (Alcoholics Anonymous, page 17)
Rescued, saved, liberated
from an evil age, from peril
drowning us, engulfing us,
shutting off air and hope.
Rescued from myself,
my obsessions, my fears,
my stuffing down hurt,
my anger at others
for what only I could change.
Grace and peace to us
who, rescued, can now see
the beauty, goodness, joy
all around.
Joyousness and camaraderie
to me who knew no joy,
who felt all alone,
among a cloud of folks 
who loved me.

Thanks – an inadequate trinket
of a word —
for all your gifts and love  

Friday, October 21, 2011

Galatians 1:1-2

Paul, an apostle – sent not from men nor by a man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead – and all the brothers and sisters with me,

To the churches in Galatia: (Gal. 1:1-2, NIV)

Carry this message to other alcoholics! You can help when no one else can. You can secure their confidence when others fail. Remember they are very ill. (Alcoholics Anonymous, page  89)
Carry the message,
spread the word,
an apostle of the good new,
of salvation, 
of freedom
from obsession, 
from fear, from hell. 
Paul didn't let his not walking
Israel hills with the Master
silence his call
to apostleship.
Bill W told the first 100
he didn't write the Steps,
God did – it wasn't subject
to edits.
Isaiah stood in the Temple
the year King Uzziah died
and trembled in the presence 
of Glory but heard the word
and said, "I'm here, send me."
How long? Thousands of years,
Not just them, though. All of

God, I'm ruined, dirty
in your presence, 
as dirty as all around me.
But you speak. Who am I
not to do your bidding?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Hearing a Food Report

I was thinking about the fact that you have to read what food myself and others are eating – foods that you are probably abstaining from, and I wanted to let you know I am very appreciative!
Love ya

Actually, getting the food report does the opposite. Any kind of service in OA reinforces our own program. I think the relevant part of the Big Book and an excellent illustration of how it all works begins on page 100 of the Big Book. Incidentally, here's a neat online version of the BB: There's the other at but the anonpress one, you can cut and paste. 

Assuming we are spiritually fit, we can do all sorts of things alcoholics are not supposed to do. People have said we must not go where liquor is served; we must not have it in our homes; we must shun friends who drink; we must avoid moving pictures which show drinking scenes; we must not go into bars; our friends must hide their bottles if we go to their houses; we mustn't think or be reminded about alcohol at all. Our experience shows that this is not necessarily so.
We meet these conditions every day. An alcoholic who cannot meet them, still has an alcoholic mind; there is something the matter with his spiritual status. His only chance for sobriety would be some place like the Greenland Ice Cap, and even there an Eskimo might turn up with a bottle of scotch and ruin everything! Ask any woman who has sent her husband to distant places on the theory he would escape the alcohol problem.
In our belief any scheme of combating alcoholism which proposes to shield the sick man from temptation is doomed to failure. If the alcoholic tries to shield himself he may succeed for a time, but he usually winds up with a bigger explosion than ever. We have tried these methods. These attempts to do the impossible have always failed.
So our rule is not to avoid a place where there is drinking, if we have a legitimate reason for being there.
You will note that we made an important qualification. Therefore, ask yourself on each occasion, "Have I any good social, business, or personal reason for going to this place? Or am I expecting to steal a little vicarious pleasure from the atmosphere of such places?" If you answer these questions satisfactorily, you need have no apprehension. Go or stay away, whichever seems best. But be sure you are on solid spiritual ground before you start and that your motive in going is thoroughly good. Do not think of what you will get out of the occasion. Think of what you can bring to it. But if you are shaky, you had better work with another alcoholic instead!
Why sit with a long face in places where there is drinking, sighing about the good old days. If it is a happy occasion, try to increase the pleasure of those there; if a business occasion, go and attend to your business enthusiastically. If you are with a person who wants to eat in a bar, by all means go along. Let your friends know they are not to change their habits on your account. At a proper time and place explain to all your friends why alcohol disagrees with you. If you do this thoroughly, few people will ask you to drink. While you were drinking, you were withdrawing from life little by little. Now you are getting back into the social life of this world. Don't start to withdraw again just because your friends drink liquor. 
Your job now is to be at the place where you may be of maximum helpfulness to others, so never hesitate to go anywhere if you can be helpful. You should not hesitate to visit the most sordid spot on earth on such an errand. Keep on the firing line of life with these motives and God will keep you unharmed. 
Many of us keep liquor in our homes. We often need it to carry green recruits through a severe hangover Some of us still serve it to our friends provided they are not alcoholic. But some of us think we should not serve liquor to anyone. We never argue this question. We feel that each family, in the light of their own circumstances, ought to decide for themselves. 
We are careful never to show intolerance or hatred of drinking as an institution. Experience shows that such an attitude is not helpful to anyone. Every new alcoholic looks for this spirit among us and is immensely relieved when he finds we are not witch burners. A spirit of intolerance might repel alcoholics whose lives could have been saved, had it not been for such stupidity. We would not even do the cause of temperate drinking any good, for not one drinker in a thousand likes to be told anything about alcohol by one who hates it. 
Some day we hope that Alcoholics Anonymous will help the public to a better realization of the gravity of the alcoholic problem, but we shall be of little use if our attitude is one of bitterness or hostility. Drinkers will not stand for it. 
After all, our problems were of our own making. Bottles were only a symbol. Besides, we have stopped fighting anybody or anything. We have to! (Alcoholics Anonymous, pp 100-103) 
I think that's a pretty darned good description of the state of mind. At a meeting yesterday, one of the speakers made banana pudding and I was amazed (and actually turned off!) by how rich she made it, using condensed milk in it and so many cookies. When it was passed around, I was busy when it was put at my place, took it over to another table, and waved it off when they tried to replace it, and it was all without emotion or feeling. The speaker passed out recipe cards afterwards, and I told her I'm not eating any sugar. And it was all easy and natural and no big deal. 

I was SO amused when I started fixing my lunch on Tuesday, the first day after six whole days of traveling and eating out. I was making a soup out of 6 oz tuna, 8 oz broccoli and cauliflower and water, and a drink of a protein supplement blended with a peach. I grinned when I found myself really looking forward to it and being so glad I was back where I knew what was in it and what the measurements were! I've always before had trouble measuring, but now it's a relief. I'm not a perfectionist, but I get close, and it feels just plain good.

I'm working in my old profession today but in a different level, the same general procedures but not exactly the same, with an unfamiliar script, one I haven't heard much since the '80s and have never spoken. I've made some mistakes – one of them in two different events, one after the other! It's the kind of stress and embarrassment that would have led to wanting to grab something and stick it in my mouth, but I'm only concerned about where to find a microwave to heat the lunch I brought. It's all so wonderful for the food to feel so right. It's worth getting here, I promise you.


Sunday, October 2, 2011

A Principled Life

Karen Casey, author of Each Day a New Beginning (which has sold over three million copies) and other books including My Story to Yours - A Guided Memoir for Writing Your Recovery Journey which was published this year, has graciously allowed publication of this question and my answer. Thanks, too, to Karen Casey for her cover blurb for A Cloud of Witnesses - Two Big Books and Us by Barbara B. Rollins with OAStepper.

Hi OAStepper,

I read this, am going to sleep, and I'm not exactly sure, but I thought of sending it to you. I don't fully understand it and if you could, would you be willing to shed some light?
I can honestly say that I was never affected by the question of the success of an undertaking. If I felt it was the right thing to do, I was for it regardless of the possible outcome.
—Golda Meir
Living a principled life is what the inner self desires. It’s what God desires. And it’s what the healthier ego desires. Living the program’s principles is giving each of us practice in living a principled life, one that is free of guilt for our shortcomings.
Having principles assures direction. We need not ponder long how to proceed in any situation, what decision to make regarding any matter, when we are guided by principles. They offer us completeness. They help us define who we are and who we will be, in any turn of events.
As women, particularly as recovering women, we have struggled with self-definition. Often we were as others defined us, or we merely imitated those close by. Sometimes we may slip into old behavior and lose sight of who we are and how we want to live. It’s then that the program’s principles come immediately to our aid.
There is no doubt about how today should be lived. I will do it with confidence and joy.

Quoted from the book Each Day a New Beginning.

My response:

What would your life look like as a principled life? It's basically doing the next right thing, but it's doing it without the nagging doubts that plague you. It's not just not asking about the woman your husband was involved with in the past or looking at the phone bill, or any of that obsessive/compulsive stuff you feel drawn to do. It's wanting to do the next right thing, really putting the other stuff as things of the past, of things you cannot control, as none of your business. It is running your business because people need to be the services you offer to live better and reach their own goals. It's helping your customers one at a time, knowing you have time, not wasting it but not worried about time limits set by your employer, knowing God will give you the rhythm to see to clients' real needs, to be of service both to the client and to the employer. 

Your inner self wants peace and serenity more than anything, and this is the way to/result of a principled life. You know the principles of OA, based on the Steps and the Traditions? 

Step One
Step Two
Step Three
Step Four
Step Five
Step Six
Step Seven
Step Eight
Step Nine
Love for others
Step Ten
Step Eleven
Spiritual Awareness
Step Twelve

Tradition One

Tradition Two
Tradition Three
Tradition Four
Tradition Five
Tradition Six
Tradition Seven
Tradition Eight
Tradition Nine
Tradition Ten
Tradition Eleven
Tradition Twelve

You get a principled life, AKA peace and serenity, by living these principles of OA, and this principled life is not only what you want but what God wants for you and what your healthier ego desires. 

Then that kicker, " that is free of guilt for our shortcomings." When you go to bed at night you calmly review your day. You look at a snit you threw in the office, a text message trying to run somebody else's life, being late to an appointment - whatever - and just kind of take it out and look at it, realize  you could have done it differently, that from the calmness of your sitting there thinking about it, you wish you had, but without the anguish of guilt, without the emotional turmoil these realizations always seem to ignite. It's like sorting through a pot of pinto beans you're about to cook and picking out the bad beans, tossing them, meaning accepting that they added nothing, and you trust yourself to get it "right" next time. 

Doing the next right thing doesn't mean you are unorganized and fritter from one thing to another as that instant's circumstances dictate. The interruptions no longer are a new path, but a movement to the side to another aspect that actually was part of the ultimate plan even though you see absolutely no correlation. But when you finish with that diversion and the two following quickly on its heels, you're still on the path and continue to move to the undertaking that feels like the right project, the right direction now. Since you didn't pick the path, you're moving forward at just the right time as long as you're open to guidance. But it's SO much easier. You're not tied up, you have your mind on where you are and what you are doing at the moment, and you know what to do then and there without the emotional roller coaster of taking the weight of the outcome on your shoulders (or in your hands). You've got the guidance you asked for on arising, for knowledge of God's will for your life and the power to carry it out, and the principles as you live them make that knowledge of his will clearer in communication, easier to detect in a moment of crisis or contemplation. 

"They offer us completeness." Isn't that an AMAZING sentence? You and your husband have made decisions about where to live, where to work, and what you want to build for the future while working programs. As you work more, get more enlightenment, that may evolve somewhat, but you know the general direction, and the evolution comes from God and is the right thing. Unless it doesn't, and then you're not comfortable with it, your stomach tightens when you move that way. 

Have you got any questions about how you struggled with self-definniton? Neither do I (as to me). Do you doubt you've taken your self-definition from your mother or your father or husband or others? When you acted like someone you thought had it all together, it wasn't the same as "act as if" unless that was a person in program who had what you wanted and you were taking guidance that came from God, perhaps through that very person. Slipping into old behavior... yeah. We ALL do it, not just you. Really! That's when you get the power from the principles and live a principled life to get back to the serenity and peace.