One of the first things that one is encouraged to do in Alcoholics Anonymous is to get a sponsor. Webster’s dictionary describes a sponsor as:
a) A person who vouches or is responsible for a person or thing. Or…
b) A person who makes a pledge or promise on behalf of another.
Although I attended many meetings, I never did find a sponsor in the halls of AA. It wasn’t that I didn’t want one initially, but asking someone to sponsor me seemed a cruel thing to ask of anyone in those early days. Kind of like asking a stranger to donate a kidney. And I surely didn’t want to sponsor someone else, even after some time in recovery, because I am a messy and flawed human being. Being responsible for myself is about all I can handle (and some days that’s a stretch).
At one of the first meetings I went to, one member told the group that your “higher power” could be just about anything.
“It could be a lampshade,” she said, nodding toward the light in the corner of the room. “As long as you admit that believing in it can restore you to sanity.”
I looked at the lampshade, which admittedly appeared to be more sane than I at that moment. But it was not a “higher power” and I didn’t believe in its holiness. I didn’t believe that I could save myself, or that Buddha could save me or nature or another person. I believed in Jesus Christ and His power to get me through this thing called sobriety. It would have to be an act of God for me to stop drinking.
You see, for three days prior I had been on my knees, sick and begging for help. Three days of detoxifying sweats, shakes, and hallucinations – the penalty of denying my body alcohol. In my weak and lonely state, I had called out to Jesus Christ. A fill-in-the-blank deity did not carry me through that – it was nothing short of supernatural.
When I was at my worst, sprawled out on the bathroom floor heaving and shaking, I screamed at the Lord and called him to the mat.
“You said your grace is sufficient,” I yelled, fist punching at air. “Well, where are you? Help me!”
Help me. Help me. Please help me. You SAID you WOULD!
And he did, moment by moment, bit by bit, comforting my sick body and tortured mind. In that dark time, he became my closest friend. The kind of friend you would give you a kidney. The kind of friend that would give up his life for me. Because you see, he did that, too.
Ever since that day, I have felt that I HAVE to tell other people about him, that he is still in the miracle business. I have to show other “beggars” where I found bread.
I love the 12-steps and believe in the practicality that they offer. I pull them out of the “toolbox” constantly, because they help me to do life on life’s terms instead of my own. In the rooms of AA meetings and Celebrate Recovery gatherings, I have met the bravest people on earth. Every person in recovery has something to bring to the table that another person in recovery needs to know or hear. But for me, the program itself and the wonderful people I met at the meetings were just not enough to maintain sobriety. They could not save my soul.
Life kept happening…the good and the bad, and all along, Jesus stayed. Jesus made the pledge, the promise – and he is still vouching for me today. Any sanity I have had restored in these past eleven years of sobriety?
Given to me by my Sponsor, Jesus Christ. He is the Highest Power of all.