“AA is the story of beggars telling other beggars where to find bread.”
Sharing my experience, strength, and hope, gathered over the course of 26 of some form of recovery, is the reason I write. Sincere faith tells me that someone, somewhere will relate and feel inspired or affirmed in some way.
Sometimes, and this is probably one of them, some people are probably going to take exception to what I.
But all I have to offer is what I have been through, and what has and hasn’t worked for me. There are many modalities for mental health and recovery. Mine is by no means the “right” way. It is simply the one that has been effective for me.
Having written that, over my years of suffering with untreated and poorly treated Bipolar Disorder and dual addictions, of all the tools and modalities I use to stay stable and sober, the spiritual program and fellowship of AA has not only saved my life. It has given me a way of living that enables me to thrive rather than merely survive.
I adopted a Christian quote by an unknown author and a photo of Jesus with some beggars to exemplify what AA has done for millions upon millions of us since 1935:
“AA is the story of beggars telling other beggars where to find bread.” -Unknown
Most (if not all) of us who finally make our way to AA have received the gift of desperation through the largely self-inflicted beating we received from life. Few people, especially extremely self-centered alcoholics and addicts would voluntarily work AA’s rigorous program of spiritual recovery unless driven there by tremendous pain and chaos in our lives. And many of us, like me with my Bipolar Disorder, have outside issues too.
Like the suffering, hurting, and oppressed people who joined the disciples of Jesus in the First Century, we of AA, are spiritually starving beggars. And once we find the “spiritual bread of life,” we eagerly tell other beggars where to find that same bread.
And that bread lies in surrendering one’s will, self-centeredness, and incessant self-indulgence to a Higher Power of one’s own understanding, whether it be Allah, the sun, nature, Jesus, the Hindu gods, the AA group, or whatever. And then, through progress rather than perfection, striving to do no harm and help others. (A gross over-simplification of the AA spiritual way, but a compact summary).
Because AA is “broad and all inclusive,” and is open to all, including atheists, most people don’t realize how heavily influenced by First Century Christianity (pre-dogma, pre-institutionalization) AA was. Many of the 100 Depression Era drunks who cobbled this divinely inspired program of recovery together had been raised with Christian backgrounds, but had abandoned their faith. While the Big Book pulls from many different spiritual sources, it was heavily influenced by the Sermon on the Mount (Jesus’ “formula for life”), I Corinthians 13 (the chapter on love), and the book of James.
Regardless of AA’s origins, or who or what my Fellows in AA choose as their Higher Power, each time I go to an AA meeting, work with a sponsor or sponsee, or socialize with a Brother or Sister, I give and receive the spiritual bread that nourishes my soul that was starving and wounded for so many years.
And for that I am forever grateful.