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RESTORED TO SANITY?_
When I first came to Alcoholics Anonymous I was comfortable that the slogans and the scrolls were always on the walls in the AA rooms. The scrolls with the Steps and the Traditions on seemed a lifetime away for me get involved in. The slogans I could understand and try to apply to my daily life. On my travels to meetings outside my local areas and abroad I have seen additional slogans and variations on the same theme; whatever works I don’t knock.
When I started to look at the Steps scroll, the second Step always stood out as the most difficult for me to accept. The ‘Power greater than ourselves’ was simplified to the phrase ‘there must be a God, I’m still alive’. When I looked at my life in Step One it was obvious that my life was totally unmanageable and that I was powerless over alcohol and life. The need for a Higher Power was obvious to everyone else and eventually even I couldn’t deny the need for this power. The word ‘sanity’ was the one I was having the problem with. I felt the word sanity was associated with intelligence and to prove I was ‘sane’ I showed my sponsor my school certificates. He wasn’t impressed and mentioned I should be certified. He was very patient with me and as we went through aspects of my life. He asked the question “are these the thoughts and actions of a sane mind?” I found a prayer that referred to the second Step, which I thought was apt for my situation.
‘God, I’m standing at the turning point right now. Give me your protection and care as I abandon myself to you and give up my old ways and my old ideas just for today. Amen’ (using words from BB – page 59).
My sponsor emphasised the words ‘willing to believe’ (BB-page 47) as being the key, this helped to take away a lot of my prejudice towards religions. I was told to look for anything in italics as being important and that there are two asterisks pointing to Appendix II Spiritual Experience (BB-569 to 570), which is obviously very important. The Herbert Spencer quote ends with “There is a principle which is a bar against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance – that principle is contempt prior to investigation.”
The contempt part was my problem. I was told your mind is like a parachute – it works better when it’s open. My idea of a Higher Power changes ever since I’ve been in AA. I was very anti any religion before I came to AA. I now realise I was envious of people who had faith and hope in a power greater than themselves. In the chapter ‘We Agnostics’ (BB –page 55) ‘Actually we were fooling ourselves, for deep down in every man, woman and child, is the fundamental idea of God.’ With time, my idea of a Higher Power has changed and hopefully will continue to do so. I now regard those knots in the stomach are my Higher Power questioning my thoughts and actions. If this is happening it’s likely I’m doing something I shouldn’t be doing or not doing something that I should be doing. I was told that doing nothing but just sitting there is doing something. Take time for meditation in your day.
The belief in this Power grows stronger with the growth in acceptance that I need help from a Higher Power to have better life. Going to meetings on a regular basis, seeing the Programme working in others, helps me in keeping the faith. It’s great never to be alone and have the spiritual tools of the Programme in my life.