The promise of being able to live life happy, joyous and free is one of the greatest treasures I’ve found in sobriety. Sometimes though I have to admit that freedom, joy and happiness are a bit daunting, especially when I have recurring bouts of alcoholic thinking.
Remembering that alcohol is but a symptom of my problems means that I have to continue to work my program continually. I have an old timer friend that says he has to practice Steps 1, 2, 3, 6 and 7 on a daily basis to keep his joy, freedom and happiness. I think he’s right. I would also add Steps 10, 11 and 12 to that list for me.
Once I’ve done the work that allows me to ‘keep the plug in the jug’ I’ve just begun the ongoing work of changing the person that I brought into the halls a few 24 hours ago. That jug plugging happens in 1, 2, 3 for me. Simple as 1, 2, 3. I also have to be reminded that simple does not equal easy. This puts me on the road where true happiness is possible.
When I practice Steps 6 and 7 on a daily basis I work on extending my 4th and 5th Step work by making sure I don’t pick up new baggage that will limit my service to other people. Becoming entirely ready and humbly asking God to remove my shortcomings as I become aware of them is what makes freedom possible for me. The freedom I’m talking of here is not the freedom to do whatever I want, but rather to be free to do the next right thing in the pursuit of my sobriety that is marked by real metanoia, or the new mind and heart that dependence on and trust in God brings within my grasp.
It’s only when I’ve worked here on the front end that I find myself ready for the peace and joy that comes with the authentic expression of Steps 10, 11 and 12 in my daily life.
To promptly identify and admit my shortcomings is something that would have been nearly impossible before I committed myself to the working of all of the steps. Once I get in the practice of doing my turnarounds in as close to real time as possible I notice that I can go through the day with a certain buoyancy that leads me organically to conscious contact with the God of my understanding. When that happens, when I allow that to happen through the grace of God, I find 12th Step work in almost everything I do because I have allowed God to change who I am. Knowing that God is at work in me is the source of my joy. I count myself so very fortunate to recognize it sometimes when it happens and when it doesn’t happen as well.
Now I know that I have tools that I can use to put me in a place “where grace is possible” to quote Dietrich Bonhoeffer, makes Happiness, Joy and Freedom possible in all circumstances if I have the courage and humility to give myself over to the care of God. That’s Gospel for me.