But Why?

The philosophical argument about self-will versus determinism has been raging for much longer than our lifetimes. Modern ideas put new twists into this but the idea is the same. It is an argument that I am pretty sure will not be solved in my lifetime. So what to do, and what to say, when bad things happen? What was/is God’s role in such matters?

I have faced this in my own life and in trying to help others. Rape, murder, car accidents and the like are some of examples of bad things that happen. Is this all parts of “God’s plan?”

I want to believe this is not the direct doings of God. In my spiritual world these are things that happen, regardless of what God wants or is able to do for me, or for anyone else.

Self-determinism is what I believe in. I believe God wants the best for me but I am free to choose. I am a drunk. Good for me or not, if I am not vigilant and taking care of myself than I am capable of drinking. And drinking for me leads to very bad things for me and for others. On the other hand my life is pretty darn good when I am sober. This is more what I think God wants for me. So when bad things happen I don’t blame blame God. It is not necessarily his fault or his doing.

For all I know God is doing these things, perhaps for reasons I do not need to be privy to. Yet I am not God so I am not the person to understand everything. I can live with that too. I don’t need to think I know or understand everything anymore.  Drinking and getting sober beat that egotistical malarkey out of me.

Having been sober for a few decades I can deduce and live with philosophical and spiritual perspectives that support my life. I can now see things in a way that allows me to be happy (God is good) instead of bitter (why did God allow xxxx to happen?). In working with others I can share my perspectives and suggest them as useful ways to see and deal with things. I don’t pretend I am right, just that this does work. Yet sometimes there needs to be something more added to all this.

The other day one of my sponsees told me something that I thought was wonderful. It come to him via another AA member who had suffered a loss and was told this by someone else. Rather than wondering why or what God’s role in the thing that you lost was, imagine that God felt the same pain that you did or still do in relation to your loss.

An empathetic God explained in way that is personal and touching.

Happy New Year. 2010. It will be the best year ever.

Getting the Answer

Today I was told I would be offered an exciting new job I had been hoping I would get. It is a few years of work, with some of the top people in my field. One of them is a world class scientist, with lots of awards and even a Pulitizer for a book he wrote. Not only should this work be good but it will also set me up quite well to get a permanent position once this experience is completed.

Sobriety is a strange and wonderous journey, especially when you give in to giving up and letting God. My experience with this job has been like a number of others. It was serious and yes, it was a big deal. So much so that I got my panties in a wad for quite awhile. Only in the last few months have I worked really hard at letting God into what I was busy doing on my own.

I had been waiting on this deal to come down for over a year and was able to spin my wheels doing other things to bide my time. It got to the point where I was getting fearful, anxious and could not see as easily that life is and will be good. Regardless of work or no work. Some of my old thinking was starting to come back, in no small part because now I am married and things seem so much more serious these days. My wife is even pregnant for gosh sakes.

Finally I got earnest and honest in my prayers. I began to ask God to help me be on and be happy with a path that would support me and my family in a prosperous way. To realize, accept and honor whatever that was to be. Over time I came to realize I was no longer waiting for something to happen. It was happening and I was on the right path. I just did not know what was up around the next bend. This change in my perception and sense of things began to get me right again. A greater shift occured when I felt like I did not care what the outcome of getting the job I wanted, I was just curious to know what was going to be next. Like the curiousity of a child, not one of the fearful adult I was a few months ago. I just began to know now that all was well, and right. It also seemed that an answer, the next thing that would be, was coming to the fore soon.

Today the email came. I have a lunch date on Wednesday to meet with the people I will be working with. With this new job I will be: working at one of the top universities in the world, working with one of the top scientists in my field and I will be able to commute to work by taking a bus that is a three minute walk from my front door.

One of my best friends in the world was with me when I was just beginning my journey in science. I was a few years sober, he was just getting started. His first few years of sobriety were mental health hell but he stuck with it and I with him. I was best man at his wedding a few years ago. Last year he was part of my wedding. Even way back when, in the mid 90’s, I was talking to him about this guy that I am going to soon be working with. I called that friend today and we both marveled that I am where I am today.

It occurs to me to end this post by mentioning that none of what I have done in this area of my life would have happened if I made all my own decisions. I just wanted to be left alone. Instead I followed what I thought I was being directed to do, each step of the way. Even though at times it was a seemingly scary, unknown course that God put me on. Those scary God directions always opened up into wondrous vistas that held beauty and joy. Today is another one of those and I am so grateful to be alive and sober.

Wishing you all the best in your sobriety…

Waiting for an Answer

I got word this evening that a decision will be made, as soon as Monday, about hiring someone for a job I want to have. This position is something I have been waiting to hear about for a long time. I also know I am in the running for getting the job.

I have been praying about my work situation a lot. Asking to be shown what my direction should be and the courage to walk on the path I am shown is the right one. I do have enough sense to not pray to get this job. At least that is what I have come to learn about prayer, careful how you go about things and what you ask for.

So I will wait. Try not to get to anxious. Abide by the decision the best way I can.

Whatever happens my life is about to change in a macro way soon. This job or another – something has to give soon.

The Rock

rock-writingI was walking in a state forest the other day and came across this rock. It was along a jeep road trail that led to a lakeside flat. At the flat was a place to hang out and it was obvious this was a place to party. Not to badly littered but there were some broken bottles and trash around. There was also a place in the center of things for a fire.

Boy did this bring back memories. I used to get drunk with my friends in an out of the way place. Along some railroad tracks, behind a bowling alley, near a major interstate bridge overpass. It was a perfect place to hang out where no one else went. On the populated side of the bowling alley was a strip mall and a liquor store. There we would figure out a way for someone to get us alcohol and from there we would retreat to our hideout. We were just kids but we might as well have been looking at what we could become – drunken bums that lived in the shadows, drinking in out of the way places.

Sadly during that time of my life, being at the place drinking was some of the happiest times for me. I felt misunderstood (and a lot of other uncomfortable emotions) and drinking took that away. Besides most of my buddies were nascent alkies too. We were brethren and understood each other. It was a peaceful break from being around parents, other adults, other kids. Today I can see this was the beginning of my flight in to isolation and loneliness.

I do not know of anyone from that group of friends that has gotten sober except for me. There were three of my best friends in high school among that group. One turned out to be a hard drinker that stopped partying once he ‘”grew up.” Another has been living a horrible life for the last twenty plus years. Living on the streets of New York City, in and out of relationship with a women that sold herself to support her drug habitat, he has had aids for years. He may be dead by now, although I always think that and then he has a way of reappearing. When I do see or hear of him it is a chance to look in a strange kind of mirror. If I was still using, and could have some how still managed to not die, this is what I could be.

The third of our tight little click killed himself 21 years ago. I had been sober about a year and a half when this happened. I had seen him a few months before and my friend seemed empty, hollow and sad. I attended his wake and funeral and will never forget the sadness. Many people asked me why would he have done such a thing? I couldn’t tell them that I felt I understood his motivation – he just could not take it anymore. The pain, the loneliness, the everyday struggle with knowing you just cannot escape this inexplicable fate of needing to drink, needing to stop and nothing you do works.

I am so grateful for my sober life.

Faith Abounds

One key element of my sobriety, my happiness and my ability to live in the right way is to have a strong faith. Yet it comes and goes. I came into AA not believing in God. My use and abuse of substances though did make me willing to try what Alcoholics Anonymous suggested. My willingness led me to develop a relationship with God and an ability to have faith.

Those days seem simple and quaint today. My humanness has returned as I have stayed sober and had my own little victories in life. All of these have been made possible by my sobriety – that is clear to me. I think that my faith has never been as strong as it was in my early years of sobriety. I do have some ideas why too. Part of it has been, simply that I have become somewhat normal. I am no longer so desperate. My life works today rather than it being a real mess that spills out toxicity in all areas and upon all that are around me. I could do better, sure, but I am not doing all that bad either.

So I have become comfortable and in some ways complacent.

The answer to this sometimes lacking strength in my faith is to redouble my efforts in doing what I have been taught works. Trust God, clean house and help others. I have been taking this action for months now and not surprisingly faith is beginning to spread. It is smothering the fear, getting into the nooks and crannies of my thought life and rooting out the crap. It feels good, its uplifting to have this change occur and to have it so palpable.

I am still a bit away from where I once was with my faith. I have also come to understand that what I had and thought was good can never be brought back. I am aiming to bring myself to a new place, not restore myself to an old state. That old state cannot be returned to because I will never be that person again. I have changed and today is today, it is never yesterday.

My old friend Bob used to say “the best is yet to come.” Things are pretty good but I can tell they are getting better. That is some faith I can bank on.

Sept 16 2009 Just for Today

Just checking in as I haven’t written in awhile.

My wife is pregnant and I am now on track to become a father for the first time. My biggest surprise so far has been my almost complete lack of fear or worry regarding what is one of the biggest life changing events you can have (or so I have been told!). I really thought when I was faced with this gift I would have found plenty of ways to worry. I will take as much of this as I can get. Maybe it will change.

On a different but something similar line, I have been focusing a lot more lately on faith. Being more conscious of God, praying more, turning things over as the day develops. This to is a nice thing to have going on and like my lack of worry, I will take all of it I can get. My goal is to build upon this while it is going strong. For the moment, which is all that matters, I am pleased with my spiritual progress these days.

The next few weeks will be building a bridge to what I think will be some other big change in my life. My hope is that I will be getting a job that I would love to have. The process of this decision being made has left me hung out to dry, so to speak, for over a year. One of the things that did was get me into fear and out of what I was just talking about in the last paragraph. For now I feel the path is the right one and that the change is coming. It will be big, in terms of turning me in a new direction for my work and what I will be spending a good bit of time doing.

Better things are coming. I need to live in that truth, not turn it away by getting into fear and enjoy each day that will serve as a bridge between now and what is coming up ahead.

Our Best Ideas

Will you choose the easier softer way, of try to blaze your own trail?
Will you choose the easier softer way or try to blaze your own trail?

As happens too often, someone that asked me to sponsor them has gone away. Don (as mentioned in this post about sponsorship) decided he needed to try to do find his own way to sobriety. My own sponsor said it best “why do you need to find something else, this works well for a lot of people!”

The thinking and reasoning of this guy was classic. I was almost dumbfounded by what he told me as things were quickly unravelling.

First was Don’s stopping doing some basic things he had told me he would do if I was to sponsor him. I called him out on this stuff and told him he needed to make a decision if he would do those things or not. He said he needed to think about it. Within a few days fired me, saying he did not want to do those things and that he needed to do his own thing.

He explained how he knew some guy in AA that had long term sobriety and worked his “own” program. The steps he didn’t like this guy simply ignored. How well did he know this other guy? Someone else he sort of knew in AA had told him about him. So he was going to go to a meeting this fellow went to and see if he could talk to him.

Great “lets go get drunk idea.” So there are lots of people around that are sober and talk about how the steps brought them sobriety. Out of this, pick one guy that did it differently and say that is what I want to do. What worked for one person, not what is apparently working for a whole bunch of people.

The most crazy thing of all was this one line he told me.

I want to try to find my own way of doing this AA program.

His own way. He called me a few times after he fired me. He was growing increasingly irritable, restless and discontent. Don was also getting more and more scared. At one point he decided he needed to do what I had suggested and said it would be good if I would sponsor him again. That was the next to last day that I heard from him. It has been a few weeks. He is not at meetings. He has not kept in touch. Is he drinking? I hope not but it does not look good.

I am so glad that I once came to the realization that my best ideas were killing me. This was a very important change in my thinking that allowed me to get sober. I was then teachable and open minded. I thought a lot of these AA things would not work but was willing to entertain that I could be wrong. I was. Completely.

Three Answers

My sponser told me this little gem the other day.

You know what the three answers to your prayers can be?

Yes.

Yes but not now.

No because there is something better in store for you.

I am liking my new sponsor!

Stay sober, have fun and enjoy this day.