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Time is Not Recyclable – Living One Day at a Time

Pathways to Serenity

We’ve all got addictions.  Let’s deal with them. Now

One Day at a time | Pathways to Serenity | Overcoming addictions

When you think about it, we really don’t have much choice in life than to deal with things. There is no time out in life. Everything counts. Every day. Every minute.

We cannot afford to waste time.

I myself spent precious years during my thirties and forties refusing to deal with things without what I perceived to be the benefit of alcohol and tranquilizers. At age 49, I finally faced up to it and after the next 34 years with God at the center of my life and a spiritually based program of recovery, I am the happiest I have ever been.

The late Joe McQuany, a recovering alcoholic and truly a giant in the recovery field, put it this way, “I believe the happiest an individual is going to be is when he is in this pattern of living, relying on God and other people.”

Many years ago, Dr. Robert Lewis, a pastor at Little Rock’s Fellowship Bible Church (which I attend) and founder of the international Men’s Fraternity program, spoke in a sermon once about the fruitful life of the prophet Abraham and about his death at a very old but still active age. Dr. Lewis, who helped me a lot with my recovery and the restoration of our family, said with some passion that when Abraham died he was “satisfied.”

At the time, I underestimated the power of the message, but now as I approach the age of Abraham (okay, I’m 84) I get it. Death without misgivings is, indeed, a worthy goal and I have redoubled my efforts in that direction.

Those who seek recovery will encounter obstacles, of course, many of them self-inflicted. Our denial, for example, hampers the identification of an addiction, and an unwillingness to deal with the problem and blaming others prevents recovery.

But it’s really not that complicated. Little Rock’s Wolfe Street Center, which provides meeting rooms for 12 Step meetings, used to have a caretaker (we called him “Dr. Bob”) who had boiled down his program of recovery to a simple phrase, “just don’t drink.”  Too simple? Perhaps, but also basic.

Here are five principles that have worked well for me. They are based mainly on the biblically based 12 Steps.

1. Trust God

In the first of their 12 Steps the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous call upon us to surrender to a power greater than ourselves. In this it differs from many programs which, instead, begin with seeking power. The first step rejects the notion that we are capable of doing life on our own but gives us considerable latitude in naming that power. I chose God, supreme ruler of the universe, as I believe most do, and later named Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.

2. Clean House

Among mankind’s addictive behaviors, drug addictions, including alcoholism, have been particularly destructive and require special diligence when it comes to cleaning up. This includes stopping the behavior, admitting our mistakes and making amends to those we have harmed.

3. Help others

Helping others through sponsorship, and other activities, is an essential requirement of AA and most other 12 Step programs. Rightly so. I didn’t warm to the idea at first but did what my sponsor and others told me and registered with the AA central office in Little Rock. I listed myself as someone willing to offer help, no matter what the hour.  The hour, in this case, turned out to be midnight.

His name was Wardell, and he lived out by the airport. He was young, he was big, he was black and he was very drunk. I was old (about 50), medium build, white and newly and excruciatingly sober. Wardell seemed grateful that I had come when we shook hands on his front steps. We talked a little. I gave him a Big Book, told him to not drink and to meet me at the Wolfe Street Center the next morning to begin work on his program of recovery.

Darned if he didn’t show up. Wardell got sober, I stayed sober, and the world became a better place. After a couple of years, Wardell, still clean and sober, moved away, and we lost track. I pray that he is safe and well.

4. Reject resentments

Resentments will damage your serenity and ultimately shorten your life. There is a popular AA saying, “Harboring a resentment against someone is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies.”

5. Live one day at a time (tops)

Taking life one day at a time is a concept well known to people in recovery from alcohol and other addictions. Newcomers to 12-Step programs are told by old-timers to make no more than a daily commitment to sobriety—maximum—lest they be overwhelmed by contemplating a lifetime loss of their alcohol, pills and powders.

McQuany once said, “I look at the battles that go on in life, and I look at the resentments and fears, guilt and remorse, and how things block us from God and shackle us to the self. Then I look at love, tolerance, patience, courage and wisdom. These qualities have come from God and they are always with us. In our outer and inner conflicts, we can see the powers of ‘self’ contending with the powers of God.”

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