Friday: Humility … God Giveth and God Taketh Away

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My story begins a long time ago, in a nondescript church, with Memere and God.

On that day, she had a conversation with God, and the covenant was made. And for the whole of my life, God was there, running in the background, even if I did not always want Him or see Him.

When we are born, we are given a body, a soul and a spirit. Our bodies, some say, are the temples of God, created in His image, and we should take care of that body, soul and spirit. Because it is the only one we have, and this is not a dress rehearsal, this IS the BIG SHOW.

When we reach the age, where addiction begins, nothing else matters, but the consumption of whatever we are addicted to, unto the bitter end.

I know what Humility is. I have spent an inordinate amount of time seeing where, I had to humble myself before God. And there were those times.

I am a man who desires structure. A man who desires to be with others, and not left on his own. I need that communion with those who participate in my life. I need a steady hand, every day that I live this life. I am nothing without those around me.

For a great portion of my twenties, I craved a new addiction, “Acceptance.” And what ever I had to do to get it, I did it. Not only did I never “find my way into acceptance fully,” it seemed, in retrospect, that “I would never arrive.”

My drinking career did not last that long. But for a very long time, I was abusing myself, disrespecting my body, my soul, and my spirit. And I had turned away from God, because I had forgotten that a covenant existed between God and myself.

If you think you can run your life, for the whole of your life, addicted and abusive, your God-given body, soul, and spirit is polluted.

I heard a friend say that at times, God might take something away, but He also gives something back. And my life, as it was lived, up to today, has been a series of God taking things away, however harsh it may have been, in God’s wisdom, I believe He knew what He was doing.

I had abused my Godly Covenant. I had forgotten.

Human beings are supposed to make it in the world, against all that happens, we are supposed to go out into the world, be fruitful and multiply. Well, I may be fruitful, but I sure as shit did not multiply. Thank God …

In the gay world, we are told we must be fit, sexy, tanned, rich and pretty. We are told that in order to “belong” we must imbibe great alcohol and do great drugs, because that is what we gay boys do. At least that was the message I got in my twenties.

I was fooled into a delusion that took me to the bitter end. Because I was none of those things, but for a few short years. Alcohol is capricious, patient and cunning.

I believe now, that God knew exactly what He was doing all the time.

But at the point where I had humiliated myself in public, drank myself into the ground and sexed myself up to the point that I was going to die because of my actions, God needed to get my attention, once in for all.

The Evangelical crowd believed that AIDS was the Gay’s punishment for sinning and that AIDS was what we earned by sinful behavior. They wanted us to die. And they vehemently encouraged us to die.

God brought me to my knees, in grand fashion. With plague …

He took away my ability to be fruitful and to be sexy and to be sexual. He removed me from that insanity, I thought I really needed, come hell or high water.

In retrospect, Was my sex life all that it was cracked up to be? No…

Only when I drank.

Taking away that part of my life was part of the deal. But God did not leave me, he incarnated and came into my life in human form. Todd came and saved my life.

I was going to learn some humility. And that is exactly what had happened.

I learned over the course of two years, what humility meant, and why it was important.

Humility was necessary to survive. Approval may not come all the time. And we must stand up and know that we are good. That we can be good to ourselves.

HUMILITY — Definition: When your toilet is stopped up with a cup placed backwards in the bowl, and shit and piss fill the bowl and is all over the floor, your job is to get that cup out of the toilet and clean that mess… humility …

We know today, well at least some of us do that:

My belly button is NOT the center of the universe. Therefore I am not the center of the universe.

As long as I was orbiting my sun, my moon and my stars, I was good. As long as that hand was there, and I was not alone, I trusted Todd with my life and I flourished.

We know that time came to an end. I did not know what to do. Honestly, I did not know what to do with myself or how I was going to survive on my own.

I tried for a while, until A.A. asked me to leave and not come back.

Never tell an alcoholic to go away and not come back. Because if you do that, their life becomes your problem.

Once you speak words, you can never take them back.

I had to venture on one last odyssey. God was there, on silent mode. But I had to get to the point that I recognized that I was done abusing myself.

And that night, I got on my knees and humbled myself before God.

And with miraculous Godly power, God moved heaven and earth to bring me back into my covenant.

The rest, I can say, is history. Good history.

The steps are written in a certain order and should begin with the First, through the Twelfth. Because we need to admit, come to, and decide that (God) for me, is the director and I am a servant. Then I need to clean house and throw out the trash.

Only then can we entertain the word Humility. Step Seven is all about humility.

A familiar exercise is to read the Twelve and Twelve and Step Seven, and highlight how many times the word humility appears in that step work.

God giveth and God taketh away …

And I know that I could never have provided myself with what God has given me over the last fifteen years on my own. I was no normal mortal human being who was supposed to go into the world and make it on my own.

I had no idea how that was going to work.

Alcoholics and Addicts in recovery, We Get Our Do Over…

In the rooms we find what we have all been missing. I’ve proved, over the years, that God can be found in the rooms of recovery. I’ve seen Him move among my friends.

And He has moved in my life. Over the years, little by little, God has removed certain things from my life. In order that He might give me something better.

An Empty vessel that can be filled with grace. A Body, Soul, and Spirit that is Clean and Sober, that can flourish and be of service to my fellow-man.

Having lived as long as I have, I surely do not take my life for granted.

People rely on me. They trust me. And they love me. If I took for granted one day, of this covenant that I now inhabit, I would surely lose my life …

A long time ago, I had a conversation with God. And I told him that I was ready to sacrifice my life in order to serve God.

An entire lifetime would go by, until I reached the point where the time was right, the moment had arrived, the ground was fertile, and I was ready to step up and serve God with all that I had.

For me, in order to serve God, in hindsight, required great sacrifice.

It has taken me a lifetime to realize just what that meant.

Tonight a friend reminded me of why we were sitting in that room tonight.

Because God giveth …

 

 

 

Holocaust Memorial Day: In the Words of Primo Levy…

yellow_star_of_david.jpg

You who live safe
In your warm houses,
You who find, returning in the evening,
Hot food and friendly faces:
Consider if this is a man
Who works in the mud
Who does not know peace
Who fights for a scrap of bread
Who dies because of a yes and a no.
Consider if this is a woman,
Without hair and without name
With no more strength to remember,
Her eyes empty and her womb cold
Like a frog in winter

Meditate that this came about:
I commend these words to you.
Carve them in your hearts
At Home, in the street,
Going to bed, rising;
Repeat them to your children,

Or may your house fall apart,
May illness impede you,
May your children turn their faces from you.

Primo Levi

Survival in Auschwitz

Thursday: It’s a New Story

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Nothing guarantees one sobriety more, than intensive work with another alcoholic.

These words ring true tonight.

There is only ONE time, you get to tell your story for the very first time. Tonight, the room was packed. The crowd was fresh, many friends, and groups from other places, visiting for the month of January.

Tonight, we heard a story for the First Time.

2 years and 2 months ago, I met a young man, the same age I was, when I came in. My young man was at his First A.A. meeting in Montreal. He had visited a room in his native Venezuela many years prior. He knew the drill.

That night, as the meeting closed, I was feeling strong and confident. We spoke after the meeting, and I gave him my number and told him to call me EVERY DAY.

That first week, he called me ONCE.

The following Sunday he came to the meeting, and I asked him why he didn’t call, as he was asked. He did not want to bother me. That Sunday he resolved to call every day. For the last two years, and a couple of months, he has done as he was asked.

When you work with others, A Vision for you says that:
Obviously, you cannot transmit something you haven’t got …Your Own House Must be in Order. 

I believed I had something to offer, a Story. Experience, Strength and Hope.

But you never know what you have to offer, until conversations begin. Every time that phone rings, you never know what is going to come from the other end. You cannot respond with “Canned Responses.” You must rise to the challenge of whatever is asked of you. Working with others forces you to really Work Your Program.

Going to meetings, is not just Going to meetings.

One must exhaust every meeting and every human being in that meeting to its maximum benefit. I’ve spent the last fifteen years listening to people talk, in every meeting I have been to, to date.

I pride myself in knowing that, ONE, I did not do many things I watched others do. And TWO, I did not make the same decisions many others made. I was never alone. Over the years, observing my friends and listening to them, gave me opportunity to say, “I might do this, or I might do that, but I am definitely NOT doing that.”

With all that informed activity, soberly used, I am where I am. I have an entire bank of knowledge and decision-making skills. And I have used them wisely.

Sobriety is not a rush job. And sometimes progress is slow. But for my friend tonight, the pace of progress was reflected back at us tonight, in the wise and spiritual truths my friend shared with us tonight. It pays, having a cheat sheet.

He had a cheat sheet.

But that cheat sheet helped him share a message of true spiritual teaching.

A long time ago, my friend knew what he had to do. What happened was, that it took time to do the work and learn the lessons, and gain spiritual maturity to know God as he does.

We might pray for things we think we need right now. And for the most part, alcoholics believe that if they pray NOW that the payment will come NOW.

WRONG …

If one is not spiritually RIGHT, and learned of the process of growth and has done the appropriate work to get to a certain point, what we need won’t come, until we really need it, on God’s time-table. Knowing full well, what that gift is and how to use it wisely. If we receive answers and promises prematurely, without doing the work required TO RECEIVE, then the gift is wasted.

God does not seem to waste gifts prematurely.

I know this, because, over the years, I worked very hard at sobriety. And nothing came easily, or on my time-table. In fact, some prayers took YEARS to come to me. I needed to appreciate my petitions, and learn to know my limits.

And how to respect God’s timetable.

I had certain issues I needed to practice. Like Money, Love, Things, Relationships, a Roof over my head, and Food in the Fridge.

My life blossomed in year two. BUT, God held back for a long time, until I learned how to do One thing well, not necessarily perfect. But one thing at a time.

In the meantime, my needs were met. I had all the right people, in all the right places, at all the right times.

Only in year 13 did things change drastically, Positively.

Knowing my friend came in at the same age I did, with practically the same issues I had, I kind of knew the drill. And I have been cautious with my advice, always tempering my words, with the appropriate work that is required of him and of myself.

And that caution paid off.

Because my friend is wise, at this stage of the game. He knows who he is. And he respects God and God’s Wisdom. True spiritual growth is the point of getting sober.

Sadly … Many folks don’t get it, won’t listen to advice, nor have the will to do the work required to be really, spiritually, fit.

I may be spiritual, but if I don’t maintain that spirituality daily, I am useless.

I must rise to the challenge and become as spiritual as I can, and whatever work we need to do to get there is what we will do. And we employ reading, studying, praying, meetings, listening, discussing, and then acting.

The Spirituality of Imperfection was a game changing book.

Rafa read it, and gave it to me. I read it and gave it to my friend. He read it and gave it to his girlfriend to read.

Along with the basic text of the Big Book, we have this small tome to study as well, as the book is all about Alcoholics Anonymous. From a Spiritual direction.

A handful of people, I know, read this book. I was among them in the Summer of 2016.

Spirituality is a time necessary endeavor. And all we have is time. And for each soul, in the program, all we do is count time. But it is in between those points on the timeline, that growth takes place. It does not come overnight.

It was an amazing night. I am so proud of my friend. The room was electrified tonight, and the people were truly grateful for the message shared.

He knocked it out of the Park.