My home group (getinthecar.org) is a hybrid closed Big Book Study that meets only once a week on Friday night’s at 7:30pm CST. This past Friday night, we were reading in “Bill’s Story”, and we picked up where we left off last week on the bottom of page 14….
“My friend had emphasized the absolute necessity of demonstrating these principles in all my affairs. Particularly was it imperative to work with others as he had worked with me. Faith without works was dead, he said. And how appallingly true for the alcoholic! For if an alcoholic failed to perfect and enlarge his spiritual life through work and self-sacrifice for others, he could not survive the certain trials and low spots ahead. If he did not work, he would surely drink again, and if he drank, he would surely die. Then faith would be dead indeed. With us it is just like that.”
One of the service commitments at my home group is “Dictionary Steward” (DS) where if at any time during our reading, someone needs a definition of a word, our DS would look the word up in either a 1939 Webster’s Dictionary or in the Big Book Dictionary. Once the DS reads the definition, we will go back and re-read the sentence where the word was and place the definition in the sentence (replacing the original word). From the paragraph above, I asked for a definition to the word, “imperative.” The DS gave us, “required/ necessary” and then we re-read the sentence… “Particularly was it required or necessary to work with others as he had worked with me. Faith without works was dead, he said.”
I shared with the group how that really hit me. With a few ODAAT’s in the Fellowship, I certainly have experienced the joy of working with others, but it was a great reminder of the importance of giving away our precious gift (the process it takes to becoming a recovered (not cured) alcoholic). One of the women in our group shared right after me and she was talking about her experience of giving it away and she said something that hit me even harder than the reading. She was talking about how the selfishness and self-centeredness of her illness can really screw up her peace of mind and have her believing all kinds of things that simply aren’t true, things like “this meeting time is such an inconvenience for me”, or “my sponsees are calling me at such an inconvenient time”, etc. Then she laid this bomb on the room, “I need to always let myself be inconvenienced by Alcoholics Anonymous.”
BOOM!!!!! When she said that I could feel it (because I could identify with it). While I don’t believe that it’s in our first 164 pages (stated exactly like that), and while I’ve maybe heard that said before in the rooms – at that time, on that night, the visual of that sentence exploded in my head. I NEED to be inconvenienced into getting out of my head. I need to be inconvenienced into helping another alcoholic. I need to be inconvenienced into remembering what it says in the Foreword to the 12 & 12 when it states, “A.A.’s Twelve Steps are a group of principles, spiritual in their nature, which, if practiced as a way of life, can expel the obsession to drink and enable the sufferer to become happily and usefully whole.”
If you’re an alcoholic like me, you will totally get that our selfishness and self-centeredness can take us to very dark places, but the moment that we allow our spiritual malady to be “inconvenienced” into doing something that can help another alcoholic – we get to experience that “personality change” Bill refers to on Page 567. We become different people than we were when we walked into the rooms. Practicing our spiritual principals as a way of life (in all my affairs – not just when it’s convenient) has changed my life and I’m grateful for that beautiful reminder that she gave us that night! Thanks D!