I remember my first encounter with a smoke filled AA meeting, and I thought no way I'll ever be back. I had quit drinking, drugs and tobacco and I wanted no part of a potential reason ro relapse. The things I heard there included all the language I had quit using and most of the comments were highly offensive. (It reminded me of what I said while I was drinking, only difference was they were saying them sober).
Then there was the night I was taking someone who just quit smoking to a meeting that was held in a church, and although it was a non-smoking situation, some guy in the front who had a lengthy sobriety was puffing on one of those fake smoke cigarettes all during the meeting. Immediately outside after the meeting someone offered her a cigarette and I thought, my God is any of this ever beneficial?
Then there was another night when a guy was celebrating a sobriety anniversary, his 5th. He spoke eloquently, thanked everyone in the group who had helped him in his recovery, and at the end he said, "well I may not be around as much anymore because I have given my life to Jesus and been baptized, so most of my free time will be spent helping out at church". No one stopped him from talking or told him he couldn't talk religion, they just let a guy talk who had something special he wanted to say about how his life had turned around.
It hit me then, this AA thing is freedom. Freedom to talk about your problems, freedom to be yourself (most of us who are addicts try to be somebody else), and freedom for all kinds of folks from all walks of life to just let it fly without fear of correction. Just a place where you could let it go and be natural. People who are on the edge, or on the ledge, people who may be crude, rude and angry, people who use because they don't fit in anywhere but found a place where they were accepted.
Maybe AA is a temporary stop, maybe it is a permanent gym to work out your frustrations in, and to find some help in straightening out your life.
Possibly it is a place where Jesus himself would go, listen to the frustrations of mankind, and find it to be more like his church than his church we have created actually is.
People helping other people find their way back to a God of their understanding, (which used to offend me until I understood why it is said), and people helping other folks step off that ledge they have been tightroping in life. I'm a big fan now because I see the results, see the amazing acts of grace and mercy that happen through these meetings that extend way beyond the walls of the building.
Most importantly I see AA as a step, one great big step in a journey of life to find our creator. I thank God for the founders Bill W. and Dr. Bob who couldn't find what they needed in a church, so they brought the church out to the general public. I know you have some feelings on this and would love to see your comments, so please feel free to send them in.
And please, think of this, sometimes we have to step in directions that are a little uncomfortable to find the comfort of the God we need to understand!
Keep coming back...........
Glenn is an ex-Marine Viet Nam vet who is also a recovering alcoholic, clean and sober for 30 years. He has been involved in start up and ongoing recovery ministry at North Atlanta Church and Campus for the last two decades. He has a passion for outreach and to spread the message that the answer to lasting and fulfilling recovery from addiction is in a relationship with Jesus Christ. He and the ATB team are available to assist in your questions or needs on an individual basis and will do so maintaining complete confidentiality. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.