I spent three days with like-minded women, looking at Step Three and trying to determine how effectively we are applying the principle of that step to our lives.
"Made a decision to turn our will, and our lives, over to the care of God as we understand Him".
The full impact of this step did not hit me until I was 2 years sober. Supremely aware of what a great member of my 12 step program I was, quite smug in the program I was working (lots of meetings, lots of service, lots of sponsees) I was waiting for God to fulfill His part of the bargain. I knew He would because I had been told that God wanted me to be 'happy, joyous and free'. And since I had a very definite idea of what would make me happy, I was simply waiting for God to grant me my wishes as though He were some sort of Magic Genie from fanciful Arabian Tales.
Surely God would bring me the husband, the job, the house, the body, the children, the STUFF I wanted - that was what would make me happy, joyous and free. My job was to continue doing what I was doing - not because I loved it or because it was the right way to live my life, and certainly not because the way I was living was in sharp contrast to the hedonistic life style of me-me-me that I had been living while actively drinking. Rather, I was to live this way as a kind of quid pro quo with my Creator - I do this and He rewards me.
It hit me one day (at two years sober, sitting on the shores of Lake Tahoe, doing my morning prayers) that I had never bothered to ask GOD what He wanted of me. What if, I suddenly thought, my life exactly as it was at that moment was it....that is the gift from my Creator and He had provided me with the vehicle to be happy, joyous and free? No husband, no children, no home with my name on the deed, no size 8 body and a job that barely paid the bills.....could I be happy, joyous and free exactly as I was? Could I say, "Thank you, Lord, for my life today?".
What am I, stupid?
Of course the answer was as resounding, "NO!". The very thought hit me so hard that I reacted physically, bursting into tears and crying all the way down the mountain. The idea that I had been sitting, sober, in meetings for TWO YEARS only to discover that maybe, just maybe, I had been approaching my life with all the maturity of a teen ager, was startling and frightening.
I truly wanted to be someones wife and someones mother - how could God not see that and hear my prayers? I truly wanted a 'good life' as defined by the American Dream - a home, a family and financial security. There is nothing particularly wrong with that - so why did this thought come to me NOW?
Looking back, I believe that I was given that sudden insight into my own childishness because it was time for me to grow up. That beginning, that struggle with self will, really began the journey that continues today. A deepening of love between me and God, an acceptance of HIS plan for me, an understanding of what independence and freedom can come from obedience to spiritual principles and to His Church.
I have rarely removed posts from this blog, even those that reveal me to have been wrong about someone or whiny or terribly concerned with my own comfort. There are people who have gone back through all my posts, searching for those mistakes and horrible decisions I made as a way to discredit me and I get it - it is difficult and painful to read everything about a person, rather than just their public persona. I make them uncomfortable - I admit, before God and everyone, that I am a sinner, a mangy donkey struggling with self and constantly surrendering one more time to the Will that is best for all (not just me) because it is LOVE itself.
I hope that when people read this blog they see a woman who is trying to be honest about her own fears and failings. I know that opens me to attacks, but Jesus told me to REJOICE in those attacks because it means I am walking the right path.
To be a Catholic is difficult...it means we KNOW we can screw up and lose our salvation. It means acknowledging our shortcoming and our need for a Sacramental/Liturgical Life. It means not taking the easy way out - the 'once saved always saved' stunted theology of the Calvinist who feared the word 'obedience' and saw the failings of men as the failings of The Church as a whole. I understand that if it was easy to be a Catholic everyone would be one - and so it is more fun to make fun of us than to truly examine the Truth of His Teachings.
I think, however, that coming to terms with the fact that GOD'S plan for me is much different that the plan I had for myself has allowed me to slowly build a thicker armor over these past 17 years since that day of insight about the third step. Not always, of course, but most of the time I can laugh at those who think I am an object of derision and pity. I think of the women I spent the past three days with and I realize that there really are more of us than there is of them - 'us' being people committed to a life of LOVE and not of hatred and division.
Thank you, Lord, for my life today exactly as it is. I have errands to run and I have RCIA tonight and then I get to go to work. I have a meeting in the morning and an interview and then I get to stay at Debbie's house. I have a family that loves me, a Church to guide me and a God that is all.
How much better can it get?