All you need is love, love.
I started this blog and helped to form this AA group because some time ago I stopped believing in God and I was trying to make sense of how I would work the A.A. program as a nonbeliever. I felt that my atheism was a secret that I needed to keep in meetings and I was conflicted about hiding such an important part of who I was from people who helped me and with whom I thought I was comfortable.
The blog came about because writing has always been how I try to understand the workings of my chaotic mind. It’s been that way for a long time. This blog is the 21st Century version of the Big Chief tablet that I relied on in earlier days. It’s just that my thoughts, feelings and experiences are made public, shared with whoever may stumble upon this site. I hope my ruminations including what I write today will be helpful to someone, someday.
Since I’ve been on this journey, I have come to a realization that the program doesn’t need to be worked so much as it needs to be experienced. I’ve also come to the understanding that there is a power greater than myself and it’s the same power that’s helped me ever since my first A.A. meeting. It’s the fellowship with other alcoholics that helps me stay sober and I have no doubt about that, but simply associating with fellow alcoholics and attending meetings wouldn’t seem to do it on it’s own. What is it about the fellowship that helps keep us sober, and has the ability to heal and inspire us? The best answer that I can give isn’t anything new, it came from Dr. Bob many decades ago in his last speech to the fellowship. It’s love and service. That’s what it all boils down to, love and service.
I’ve been using the word “love” quite a bit lately. It’s a powerful word and it’s a powerful thing. I remember the first time I told my wife that I loved her. We were dating and at the end of the evening, I dropped her off at her home, kissed her good night and the words flowed out of me without any premeditation. I simply blurted out, “I love you”! I don’t know how she felt, but I was certainly surprised. I was happy though, and it seemed like it took only one giant skip backward and I floated effortlessly from her front porch to the front seat of my car. That’s romantic love, the beginning of a deeper more sustainable love that involves caring about the person and wanting the best for that person and trusting them completely. I’m still in love with my wife and loving her makes me happy and fulfilled.
When I think back to my first A.A. meeting, I instantly related to those who shared their stories with me. People who had lived through my problem and who came out better on the other end. They gave me hope where previously there was none. However what helped more than their stories was how those stories were delivered. They spoke to me with compassion and understanding. They spoke from their experience, from their gut, from their heart, they were honest and what they did was a selfless act of kindness and love. It was the love I felt from them that comforted me and inspired me to keep coming back, not necessarily the words, but the love with which those words were spoken.
To have the good fortune of participating in the birth of this group in Kansas City has given me the opportunity to experience this love even more deeply than I have in previous years. People show up at our meeting expressing gratitude that there is a meeting like ours where they feel comfortable and safe, and can express themselves freely regardless of their belief or lack thereof. This energizes me and motivates me to be of service to them, to make certain that I do my part to make the meeting a good experience, that I be available to them and for them. Any service that I give to the group is powered by the love that I get from them.
Each new person who joins us becomes a friend, someone I instantly care about and think about and I want the best for them. It may be that I am more passionate because our group is so young and the future of our group depends on these newcomers, so when I see them supported and when I watch them enjoy the fellowship, I get the confirmation that the meeting will survive and so will I. Certainly there is a selfish motive, but the fact that I am thinking of others more often, is to me a sign that I am becoming a healthier and yes a more loving person.
I also better understand the idea of showing love and tolerance toward those who may oppose us. Thus far, I have found nothing but support from the greater A.A. community here locally, but I am sure there must be traditional A.A.s who believe our brand of recovery isn’t the real deal. They may feel threatened by us and some may not wish us to do well. Because these people keep me sober and would no doubt go to great lengths to help me if I needed it, I can do nothing but love them. That is so freeing as I can’t get trapped in resentment for very long if I think of that person as one who keeps me sober, who is in fact my higher power, whose love for the fellowship and the program is equal to if not greater than my own.
A.A. is by no means a utopia where disagreement doesn’t exist and strong personalities don’t clash, and I’m certainly not immune to losing control of my ego at times, but I can come away from even the most negative experience knowing that behind our disagreement is a passion for this movement and that love overrides any temporary emotional storm that may exist among us.
Happy Valentine’s Day.
I love you.