Becoming Whole – Grapevine Article June 1979 by J.M.

AFTER WE HAVE put the cork in the bottle (Step One) and unloaded the garbage (Step Five), a burden is lifted from our shoulders–a burden we have borne so long, we have come to think of it as a permanent fixture. Step Three has removed the heavy responsibility of judging others and ourselves. In short, we have become ready to be put back together after being shattered by alcohol.

The Steps spell out the recovery program beautifully. I need only pick up the tools and use them. Unless I do, my Higher Power is faced with a situation similar to trying to steer a parked car. It is impossible to guide it unless it is going somewhere.

Fortunately, I am not obliged to know how this can best be done. God removes my defects of character. He somehow turns my capacity to suffer into a new and delightful ability to enjoy a folk song or a tiny child wrestling with an ice-cream cone or a tree just being a tree or a jet trail lacing up the evening sky. This spiritual alchemy has transformed poor, drunken me into grateful, sober me, the pain of suffering into the joy of living.

Had I tried to do this on my own, I would have discarded sensitivity and been numb the rest of my miserable life. Let God do it. He alone knows which are assets, which are liabilities.

My revolting past experience has somehow become valuable. Suffering has become sympathy and empathy, which make it possible for me to be a part of the same process in another’s recovery.

Trying to elevate one’s spiritual worth by tugging at one’s own bootstraps yields only herniated hypocrisy. I cannot, by an excess of virtue, compel God to do anything. What, then, is the key? This has worked for me: Accept myself as I am just for today; be as honest with myself as I know how; use what I have, however humble that may be; face reality and do what is indicated, though it may be as pedestrian as washing the dishes or shoveling the driveway.

My Higher Power has a knack for making the right thing happen at the right time, with every “t” crossed and every “i” dotted. More often than not, it is something that hadn’t even occurred to me, but it fits perfectly.

I have been taught these things by people who were once problems to themselves and others, but are now being made whole by the program.

Through some quiet, puzzling process, my alcoholism has been transformed from the ugliest to the nicest thing that ever happened to me. It forced me to surrender and change in a manner that I never would have done otherwise.

I dwell in a spiritual home of which I could not possibly have been the architect. I am on my way to becoming whole.

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