I share with my readers what is known around the tables of the 12 Step Community as the "Third Step Prayer'.
This prayer is the suggestion of one of the founders of the 'Mother Ship' of 12 Step programs- Alcoholics Anonymous. Located in the Big Book (the nickname given to the book Alcoholics Anonymous by the members of AA), this prayer is to facilitate Step Three in the 12 Step Process. That step reads as follows:
Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over the care of God as we understand Him.
Step Three is arguably the linchpin of the entire 12 Step process, though it is generally understood that this step may be taken gradually over several years. The emphasis is on the idea of 'willingness' - being willing to admit that just maybe we need some sort of power in our lives and that we can get that power from something we call GOD - and most newcomers are assured that even the smallest amount of willingness can crack open that door between themselves and a Power of Infinite Love and Grace.
I certainly found that to be true. My willingness may have been profound 23 years ago but in light of what I have learned in the many years of continuous sobriety it truly was just a door that was slightly ajar. I just didn't know that at the time.
In the past I have written about my willingness to turn my entire life over to God and how difficult and painful it has been for me. It has lead to many mistakes on my part - determined to do His Will I have run roughshod over the feelings of others and been judgmental of those struggling with the same dilemma I have over the years - just how does one turn their life over to God and make it stick?
To pretend it is easy to do is to lie.
I have shared in the past that my biggest shock was coming to the realization that turning my will and my life over to God means having total and complete trust in His Providence. It means being able to thank Him for my life exactly as it is at any given moment no matter how I might be feeling. I might be lonely, angry, hungry, tired, scared, determined, happy, in love or out of love - none of that matters. My life belongs to Him, right?
I have shared in the past my disappointment when otherwise strong Catholics have walked away from the Eucharist because they did not like a certain priest or the design of a certain church building or the off-the-cuff remarks of whatever Pope is occupying the Chair of Peter. I have despaired over former friends who demanded things of God and, when He did not deliver to their satisfaction, they have wrestled temporal happiness from the world and declared themselves above Church Norms.
Most of the time I was upset, I think, because I did not walk away when things got really tough for me in the world. However, and I do not mean to tout my own horn with this but it is the truth, I think the reason I did not walk away when times were tough is that I understood one thing: anything bad that happened to me was ultimately because I had been the one to screw things up. I had opened my big mouth or taken an action that was hurtful or driven people away. If someone was to blame for any chaos in my life it was me and while I might rail against the judgment rendered upon me by the world as being much tougher than I feel I deserve I could not pretend that the reason I received the dang judgment in the first place was a direct result of me, myself and I - the Terrible Trio.
My beginnings on Step Three gave me enough grace to be brutally honest with myself - sometimes too late to stop my idiotic actions but never so late as to not take responsibility for those actions when the walls of my world imploded. While many people may have become tired of me making mistakes, the members of my 12 Step Group and the Catholic Church never said, "That is one too many errors - get out". The best thing I have done the past 23 years is I have kept coming back - back to Mass, back to the Sacraments and back to the rooms. I have not drank or used but there have been times I have been mighty dry and no one ever pushed me out of the very places I have to be in order to stay dry. Nor did they ever tell me I was no longer welcome to sit in the pew.
For that I am eternally grateful.
This past holiday season was just perfect. It was full of joy and love and giving. My house was full and my heart was full. I received all I could ever want and I gave as much as I could. It was the kind of holiday people like me dream of having - not a Hallmark channel movie by any means but darn close to it.
I believe my life today is perfect. Sure, my credit cards are too full and I have a four hour commute to and from work every day...but my life is perfect. I am happy, healthy, warm and protected.
My belief is that the place I am right now is exactly where I am supposed to be and I honestly do not need or want to be anywhere else. I don't want anyone to act differently, I don't want people to be something they are not, I do not wish for companionship or love because I have both already.
Today my life belongs to Him....and for that I am eternally grateful.