AA is my church. The sharing of one alcoholic with another is sacred because somehow God has brought us together. Holiness is of little value in the AA church. We connect though our mutual brokenness. We share together not to save each other’s souls, but to save each other’s asses.
I learned everything I know about AA in my first home group, Mt. Soledad Men’s in San Diego. The meeting was run by the book. The group emphasized sponsorship and an abundance of qualified men put their hand out to me. I chose Larry, the one with the new Mercedes. :)
I learned we all need three things from our sponsors: love, discipline and direction. Larry supplied all three. He taught me to tell the truth by sharing his truth. I learned about his fear, his abandonment issues, and the problems of his life. When it came time for my fifth I had the courage to tell him my secrets, even the icky stuff. Today I sponsor the men I work with much the same way Larry sponsored me.
There were only four or five other drunks when I arrived in Shanghai in 1997. Early on I hooked up with my current sponsor, Paul. Actually we sponsored each other since there was no one else around. Even through Paul moved to Thailand thirteen years ago, he remains my sponsor today. I test my thinking with him and he is not afraid to give me another perspective. We continue to share our life experiences with each other—the good stuff and the not-so good stuff.
I've been graced with an abundance of opportunities to sponsor in Shanghai that would not have come my way in San Diego where there are thousands of wiser, more experienced alcoholics. I have had the chance to take dozens of men through the Steps and I have grown each time. Today some of the men I work with are sponsoring others.
Passing it on to others is truly a major source of joy in my life.