The World through New Eyes
As a result of taking the Twelve Steps with my sponsor some 16 years ago, I underwent the spiritual experience promised in the Big Book – a “change of thought and attitude”. Remembering back over 50 years to when I was taught scripture at primary school as an eight-year old, and the story of the conversion of St Paul, I thought that might involve a flash of heavenly light, possibly a fanfare from the celestial brass section and an exultant choir of angels appearing on a fluffy white cloud somewhere above Plymouth Sound!
In fact the spiritual experience I have had has been far less dramatic, one of the educational variety, infinitely more profound than that theatrical performance I was expecting, and it continues day-by-day. As I was promised, I now see the world through new eyes and, having come to know more about myself as a result of the Steps, I have a better understanding of my fellow man and the world around me. When I can step back from myself and the daily pressures of just trying to get on with life, I can begin to get an appreciation of just how fundamental these changes have been for me and an increasing sense of wonder and gratitude that more really is being revealed to me as I continue to do it.
Probably the most fundamental thing is to acknowledge that everything happens in my life for a reason; to accept willingly that my life is now under the control of a Power greater than myself, whom I tried to turn my self-will and life over to in Step Three; to allow myself to be guided through the rest of the Steps and years on continue to try to practice the principles that I have learned.
Being given the knowledge that I must try to step back from myself is one thing, but being able to remember that I must and then do it can sometimes be harder.
I went into semi-retirement a couple of months ago and will shortly be moving away from Plymouth, which has been home for 22 years. It is all about change – which I don’t usually like because the future brings uncertainty and self-doubt. The prospect of stopping full-time work after 40 years in the same career, with the cessation of the daily routine that went with it, has unsettled and worried me. Similarly, the thought of moving 120 miles from my home group and its members, who had helped me by showing me how to get sober, is equally unnerving. The thought might flit through the mind of any alcoholic (like this one, anyway!) that here is the opportunity to slip the leash and try experimenting some more – just like it did when I came out of treatment all those years ago.
But what has changed since those early days is that I now have the AA spiritual routine of daily action, the simple tools that I was shown by my sponsor when I started the AA programme, which brought me the promises outlined in the Big Book that, just for today and for one day at a time, have become a part of my life. I now accept that they are infinitely more important to me than the temporal routines that I used to think should take priority.
Johnny J, Road to Recovery Group, Plymouth