Recently, a very dear friend of mine has started going to AA. When I went to the first meeting with her, I went purely to be there to support her as she was still very early on in the program. As the meeting was later in the evening, we went for dinner first and she warned us that at the meeting there was a lot of talk about “God” and about a higher being. Growing up in a Mennonite Church this didn’t bother me at all, but I was somewhat curious about how this would fit into what they did at an AA meeting.
I had some preconceived notions about AA. You know, the part you see in countless movies, shows and comedy sketches that they stand up and say “Hi I’m ____ and I’m an Alcoholic” (much to my surprise, this part is still true!) Other than that, I didn’t really know what to expect. Oh, and now that there was a lot of mention about God.
I won't go into all the details of the meeting, but when I left, I was VERY near to tears. Not only was I so proud of my friend for everything she had accomplished, but also because of the amazing life lessons that group had to offer. I couldn’t help but feel that if all of us on this earth lead our lives according to the way members of AA lead theirs, this world would be a better place.
For example: Principles before personality. When you put a bunch of people together in the same room, you’re bound to have a conflict of interests. The great thing about principles before personality, it doesn’t matter what you think of the other person, you respect them for who they are and the challenges they are going through. You don’t have to be their best friend, you don’t even have to like them. You DO know that what they are going through is difficult, and that as a member you are responsible for helping them in their journey.
How amazing is that? Can you imagine a world where we all accept that we don’t like each other, but we respect the other person’s journey? We all have our shit. We’re all fighting a battle of some sort whether it be emotionally, physically, mentally or all three. We are all humans trying to fight our way and trying to make sense of this life we are given.
Another part of the meeting that really stuck with me was the reading of this poem:
The Man in the Glass
Peter Dale Wimbrow Sr.
When you get what you want in your struggle for self
And the world makes you king for a day
Just go to the mirror and look at yourself
And see what that man has to say.
For it isn’t your father, or mother, or wife
Whose judgment upon you must pass
The fellow whose verdict counts most in your life
Is the one staring back from the glass.
He’s the fellow to please – never mind all the rest
For he’s with you, clear to the end
And you’ve passed your most difficult, dangerous test
If the man in the glass is your friend.
You may fool the whole world down the pathway of years
And get pats on the back as you pass
But your final reward will be heartache and tears
If you’ve cheated the man in the glass.
At the end of the day, you only have YOU to answer to. Not your boss, not your friends, not the lady across the street judging you because you’re kids are wearing sandals in the middle of winter, YOU. At the end of the day, you alone are responsible for what actions you take and what happens in your life. I think if every once in a while we all look internally for answers instead of externally for material objects or be the way we THINK we should be according to someone else…we would all be a lot happier.
So the next time you want to smack someone or the next time you see a judgey mc judgerson walk by you, smile at them. I promise you they are fighting their own battle...
The next time you want to put the blame on someone or something else (I can’t run today because I’m too busy, I’m too fat, but I don’t have time to work out) look at yourself in the mirror and remember, YOU are responsible for how you handle this life you are given.
I could go on for hours about what else AA has taught me, but for now, I'll leave you with this:
Life is a gift…cherish it.