A Faith that Works

I didn’t know alcoholism was killing me from the inside out. All my life I believed that as soon as I had all my ducks in a row the pain would go away and I could finally rest. But my ducks kept getting drunk and wouldn’t line up properly. The drunker they got, the more painful my life became. I always believed in God, but I had absolutely no faith God would do anything for me. Certainly I never thought to ask God to help me clean up the mess my life had become. Then, at age 47, God did for me what I could never hope to do for myself.

I have no idea what happened. I can’t explain it logically. All I know is that a few days before I walked into my first AA meeting, before I had a sponsor, before I worked any steps, the obsession to drink was lifted clean out of me. All I had done that day was to pay $3,700 — the last of my Visa credit — as a down payment for an outpatient treatment program for alcoholism. I wasn’t even sure I was alcoholic. I just didn’t know what else to do. This miracle is the bedrock of my faith. Many more miracles followed and my faith has been growing ever since.

Today I believe that a loving universe has my best interest at heart — that God will get me out of any mess I get myself into. There’s only one catch. I must get out of the way. Our twelve steps seem designed for exactly this purpose. For me, the steps are not about learning anything new. They are about dissolving ego, uncovering the truth already inside of me and letting it flow out into the world. As I practice the steps to the best of my ability, I no longer feel separate and apart from life. When I’m paying attention I realize I’m connected to the whole universe.

It has been almost two years since I left Shanghai. I am back here wrapping up my wife’s estate, selling our apartment and deciding what to ship back to San Diego. It’s been a little weird without Lola. But on some level I know she is still here. There were perhaps 15 of us at yesterday’s meeting at the Shanghai Alano Club. I had seen about half of these folks on their first day and worked through the steps with a number of them. As I looked around the room, listening to the shares, I had the feeling I have always been exactly where I was supposed to be, doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing.