Monday: The WORK that keeps on Giving

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We heard many good things about step work tonight. The good thing about or little community is the variance of people, time, and experience. Having a cross-section of people talk about experience, is good for everyone in the long run.

Many of us, with some serious time, have tried every “new thing on the block” to spice up sobriety. Over the years, visitors have come from other places to share with us, how they approach THE WORK.

For me, and many of my friends, this little jaunt into “New Methods” began in the year 2012. New Yorker’s who live here, part of the year and back home, at other times, had a method. Many saw it, watched it work for others, and then attempted that work for themselves.

I met a few people over the years, who taught me new methods of The WORK and also about Prayer. It was then, that I began to arduously make prayer work for me. Not that I had not set myself the duty of prayer before. Bob just told me how to step up my game. I followed his direction, and that changed the entire ball game for me.

Today, I hear some of my friend talk about where they are. Some have grown tired of trying new things, and many of us are in a place today, where we recognize that being perfect is not necessary. And that like some, we just want to be loved, and feel ok.

The push for continual growth has slowed for many. Many of my friends are in a “down time” place today. Those with time, have a desire to feel where they are and to experience life as it comes, “in the moment.” However, the work continue, in any case.

We’ve not seen “new methods” come to us over the last little while. So we have been regurgitating the latest method were had been working with. For many, that has grown old and tired. Some have disappeared, a few have resurfaced over the past little while.

Everybody is different, and no two people follow the same proscriptions for sobriety. I think it bears saying that, listening to each other, and sitting with each other often, that is where God is going to speak to us. Through others, in community.

I know that if I don’t hear from God directly, I need to hit a meeting and listen attentively.

Steps are progressive. They never end. You work steps, over and over. The longer you stick around, we grow up. I heard a man say, tonight, that when he realized that he had, Grown Up, in sobriety, that the steps became useful, because he recognized his own progress.

They say that when we started drinking and using, the age we were, AT THAT TIME, is where we stop growing up. Which then tells you, when you got sober, what age you will begin at. I was twenty-one for a long time. A very long time.

Folks who come in late, (in terms of age) don’t necessarily recognize how emotionally and mentally immature they are when they come in. But like my friend mentioned tonight, when he came in he was 41. With a mental age of 21.

When I came in at 34, I was stuck in the mental age of twenty-five, when my drinking was just off the charts, and I was going to die. We’ve all recognized, in ourselves, just how much many of us have grown up, over the years.

Tonight we read Page 75… The reading dealing with steps 5 through 7.

How after we speak our inventory, we go home and take out the book, and review the first five proposals, taking time to realize if we have done things right. Have we a firm foundation. Have we skimped on the cement, Have we left anything out…

There is ONE paragraph on Step Six. Not a whole lot of direction or advice on what to do. Then the book launches in the Seventh Step Prayer …

God, I am now ready for you to have ALL of me, good and bad …

I have heard, over the years that Steps 6 and 7, are the steps we live in for the rest of our sober lives, even having worked all the way through Step 12.

Character Defects and Shortcomings … They never go away. We just learn how to mitigate the damage we can wreak on others.

I told this story tonight. It’s an OPRAH story about Step Work.

By Steps Six and Seven, we should have conscious contact with a Power Greater than Ourselves. In any case, we should have figured out that equation by now.

Many don’t …

Anyways. Oprah talks about God in this way …

God speaks to us. All the time. On the first pass, God whispers to us. If we miss the first whisper, He whispers again. If we miss it the second time, God hits us over the head with a TWO by FOUR. If we miss it the third time, God drops a WALL on top of US.

That is exactly how God has gotten my attention in the past. I kind of need that critical, in my face, kind of God experience. Kind of like egging God on to show himself.

I know better. NOW. Because I know God exists. I’ve met Him in the flesh.

How often I forget that truth.

Over those years following 2012, I was attending Men’s retreats in Vermont, with a bunch of evangelical straight sober men, who talk out of one side of their mouths, then do the opposite in action.

Working through character defects and shortcomings was an In Your Face, God experience. I missed the whispers. I got whacked by the two by four, then had the wall dropped on me. Before I actually realized what was going on.

That’s the way it has been for me. Things I need to see, in myself, come to me through other people around me. I see what I need to recognize, through the behavior and defects and shortcomings of other sober people standing in front of me.

Which is why I don’t travel in those circles any more. God abhors a hypocrite.

So do I …

Life is cyclical. And runs in cycles. The longer you are sober, the more WORK you do, and the more you grow up and remain sober, these life cycles continue to rise and fall.

Issues we see on our dashboard, early on, are seen with the eyes and perspective of early sobriety, on the first pass of Steps. Those issues and lessons come and go. If we are wise, we learn on that first pass, in perspective.

Those issues don’t go away. They just get “put to bed” for the time being. Until we hit another round of steps, and life continues to grow. Sooner or later, those old problems and old issues rise again. Cyclically.

BUT, now, we see those same old problems and issues with new eyes and new perspective. And that growth continues, the longer we are sober.

It is like a jeweler who polishes Gem Stones. Each issue that rises, gets a cut on the jewelers wheel. Each cut, brings that Gem Stone (read: YOU) into greater perfection. Life is cyclical, and gem stones are continually cut and polished.

We may never reach total perfection, but if we stay sober and we do the work and we grow up, we are a little closer to who we could become, rather than who we once were.

Life can be good. But that takes time and work.

Stick around till the miracle happens.

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