The weather has turned on us, and it rained cats, dogs and little fish today.
At first, I thought I’d get around the rain, being at the right location at the right time, but I decided against such an assumption, because when I got to my transfer point, it was pouring rain.
Even though it rained, our folks, and then some, showed up. We are one episode from the end of Joe and Charlie, today we heard the Step 11 talk.
I’ve said in the past that, the Big Book is written in a really specific way.
- Each Chapter deals with a certain topic that
- Leads into the next chapter
- You can, if you wanted to, read a page,
- Or you can drill down further and read a paragraph
- and even closer, read a sentence
- And down to particular words on the page.
Joe and Charlie, take us through the Twelve Steps, and at times, they stop to talk about a particular chapter/page/paragraph/word. During those talks, they often parse particular passages down to word for word explanation.
I found this method of reading very helpful, because I’d never heard this approach before, and it furthered my understanding of those certain passages. We work the Steps in the order that they are presented. And the further you get in your steps, if you read the book closely, you will find earlier steps mentioned later on in the book.
Steps four through nine, repeat themselves when reading Steps ten and eleven.
We do the steps the first time through, to the best of our ability. As we progress, and we hit a second set of inventory requests, Steps ten and eleven, (in the book) we return to earlier steps to drill down closer to those things we need to look at, first, in the morning, and then again before we go to bed at night.
I’ve spoken about the three different people you find in meetings:
- Those with No lives
- Those with Half lives
- And Those with Full lives
When we come into sobriety, where ever we are in our lives, I mean in the subject of lives, wives, husbands, careers, school and work, each human being brings with them whatever they are engaged in at that time.
In time, we are told that if we put anything before our sobriety, we will usually end up loosing it. But some already have lives they are living, and at some point, decide or have it decided for them, that they need help, and they come to us.
Then the challenge is to be able to learn the discipline of sobriety, and to work that into your sober journey.
- Some can do that,
- some may be able to do that,
- then there are those who cannot.
I guess I was lucky, because when I got sober this last time around, I had no life. And I was taught certain guiding principles.
If you DO THIS now, it will PAY OFF down the road.
- Your home group is sacrosanct
- Never miss your home group, without a really good reason
- If you can, hit as many meetings as you are able
- Find the balance between your life activities and you sober journey
- Find a sponsor and work your steps
I am not a “throw a Big Book” at you your first days in. I would rather you find a chair, get used to the chair, relax into the flow and become part of. You will, eventually, find your groove, and your voice.
For a while, I would go to meetings, but I wasn’t prepared to step up. Until I was taught what I really needed to do, to be able to step up. I was sober a long time, coasting, shall we say, until a man from New York, turned on the fire for me.
Early on I had begun a certain discipline of meetings, home groups and service. I had the right men show up and sponsor me as I needed them. I did exactly what I was told, without question, because, like I said, I had no life really.
I had to build it. And in time, life happened. I HAD the discipline already set up, so as life began, I worked my life around my sober journey. And I’ve done that for almost fourteen years.
I’ve been through my steps several times. And it has only been in the last three years that I have learned how to drill down my steps and parse the words that appear on the page to a finer degree and that has changed everything for me.
Prayer and Meditation are the two topics in Step Eleven.
- How do we do that,
- When do we do that,
- And how does it work?
My daily life, is really tossed into the wind. (read: I make plans and God laughs at me).
I enjoy the fact that I have this ready built in system of discipline that I get to augment as the years move forwards. It is something I learned to do in the beginning, and today, I work on perfecting that methodology and practice.
I don’t have the ability to travel to far flung places, spending days, weeks or months, praying and meditating like some “old timers” get to to. (Read: I’ve read this about some sober folks who are long time sober).
I’ve heard it said that prayer and meditation is something we should do BEFORE our feet hit the floor. What ever your morning or evening ritual is, in time, we should try to work in a period of prayer and meditation into our daily lives.
Joe and Charlie talk about the morning rituals of the normal human being. From getting up and First, hitting the bathroom, Second, the coffee pot, Thirdly, Back to the bathroom, Fourth, getting dressed (making sure everything matches), then going into our days.
We spend an awful lot of time preparing the physical and material parts of our lives. How much better we could be if we add into that ritual, some prayer and meditation, however long you can stand to begin with, (and we will see over time, how you augment that effort).
I was eleven years sober, doing my thing, when Bob asked me if I could recite prayers from the book word for word. I could not. That began months pf practicing prayer every day, and every night, until I began to show. That took about eight months.
The recitation of Three, Seven and Eleven throughout the day.
I can’t tell you how it works or why it worked the way it did, but after eight months, God presented me with opportunities, that had not occurred in the past. I was ready to Step Up. For some, they came to me, because they saw something they wanted, and in other cases, I stepped up myself and things went as they have.
- Prayer is the act of reciting or saying prayers
- Meditation is the act of waiting for a response to those prayers
For some, we spend a awful lot of time asking for things, just for us, in the beginning, but we learn, in time, that God does not care about what we want. In the end God cares about giving us, just what we need, on a need to have basis.
I learned that this time around. Because I went at God, those first months, with my list of
- I need this,
- and gimme that,
- and if it’s possible,
- this would be good too.
Over the weeks and months God responded with
- Ask me later,
- Maybe Tomorrow,
- and in the end Definitely NOT !!!
If we pray, we sort of have to wait for an answer. I’ve learned over the years that God does speak to us, sometimes daily.
The Man/Woman – God relationship is a vertical relationship. ( UP – DOWN ).
The God – Woman/Man relationship is Horizontal ( LEFT to RIGHT )
If God is going to speak to us, that answer is going to come from someone close. On our level. From someone we know. Which is partly why I go to meetings. To listen for God to talk to me.
And if I am so inclined to pay attention to my fellows, there will come a time, when God speaks directly to me (read: Us). That Does Happen, and frequently too…
God doesn’t usually drop out of the clouds to talk, he usually uses an intermediary.
Be careful what you ask from God, because if He thinks you are ready, it is going to come or it is going to happen, and usually much greater than we had expected.
When finally, in sobriety, you are ready to Step Up, working with another human being is the greatest act of humility and character building you will ever experience.
Having walked through Joe and Charlie, as my guys work their steps, respectively, I have a little bit more insight into how to work, how to read, and then how to work our steps by parsing the pages, and not skipping through paragraphs, and missing the words, in between the words.
- I remember, daily, that life is not all about me.
- I am not the center of the universe.
- That I don’t have all the answers
- I get exactly what I need, on a need to have basis, (ALWAYS)
- and that turning it over and helping someone else or caring for another human being,
- is my greatest act on a daily basis.
Do you know how many years it took me to learn all these lessons, understand what they meant, and how they work in my life? More than DECADE in sobriety.
If you do this NOW, it will PAY OFF down the road.
More to come, stay tuned…