My Spiritual Bank Account
Before coming into Alcoholics Anonymous I was a spiritually bankrupt, hopeless alcoholic. I was a truly self–centred, selfish human being. I took from everyone including family, friends and loved ones and was incapable of giving anything back. Like it says in the big book, “selfishness, self–centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles.”
I remember walking into my first meeting at what was later to become my home group and hearing that if I’m to recover from my alcoholism I would need to get a sponsor and work the twelve steps. I asked someone to sponsor me and he quickly got me doing certain actions early on that really started to help me. One of these actions was to get involved with service work within my home group. I hated it at first!
My service work in AA started off with me being a greeter/cleaner. This involved getting to my home group early and standing at the main entrance and welcoming all who came into the meeting. It also involved making sure newcomers where given a tea or coffee and where introduced to a home group member. Also, at the end of the meeting it involved getting a dustpan and brush and sweeping up all of the cigarette ends left outside the meeting place. I remember thinking “how does this help me get sober?” It was at this point I got my first resentment with my sponsor.
I have felt like giving up on service work many times. My alcoholism telling me “they are all using you, they are all in that meeting right now laughing at you for doing all this hard work for free.” But, with the right encouragement from my sponsor and the other established members of my home group, I persevered. I kept getting told such things as “service work will keep you sober” and “service work will keep you in the centre of AA where you are safest” and now, after over 27 months sober, I’m saying the same things to newcomers.
I have been involved in many different types of service work. Within my home group I have gone from greeter/cleaner, tea server, and onto my current position of AA literature sales person. I am also involved with many different types of service work outside of my home group such as court service, where I attend the local magistrates court for two hours and try to help alcoholics there, treatment centre and day service talks where I share my experience, strength and hope with the people attending these places, I spend one night a week every three weeks on the national AA helpline, and I have manned a stand at the local hospital on a couple of occasions.
Doing all these different types of service work has given me a lot. I have got to meet many new people in and out of AA, it takes me out of myself and allows me to think of others and teaches me how to act selflessly when my natural default setting as an alcoholic is to be selfish. For me and my own sobriety this is vital and for the first time in a very long time I am actually being useful. I may not get paid money for the time I give to service work, I don’t even get a T–shirt for it, and at first this really bothered me but today I know that what I get back is much more valuable than money or clothes. I believe that in a spiritual way I do get a payment of sorts. I believe that this payment goes into a spiritual bank account and when I am facing trials and low spots on my road to recovery I am able to withdraw from this spiritual bank account to help maintain my sobriety. So, to make sure I always have a healthy balance in my spiritual bank account I follow a few simple rules, such as, I never say no to service unless I absolutely have to, I always give service work 110%, and I am always grateful for the service work I do.
There are still many different types of service work in AA I am yet to experience and I look forward to hopefully participating in as many of these roles as possible one day. Luckily my home group as a whole is very active within all levels of service work so the opportunities for me are vast. I am very thankful that my sponsor got me involved with service work right at the start of my journey and any resentment I may have acquired in my early days has been replaced with a healthy feeling of gratitude.