Alcoholics Anonymous Meetings
Alcoholics Anonymous Meetings:
Fear is the Biggest Enemy
By Ned Wicker
President Franklin D. Roosevelt comforted a hurting America by encouraging them to move forward in the face of adversity. He said “There is nothing to fear, but fear itself.” And so it is with alcoholics, who carry a trunk full of fear around with them, the kind of fear that is not overcome by courage as much as it is conquered by love and acceptance.
Millions of people go to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings every day, in every state and every town. Around the world people attend daily meetings in over 150 countries. They encourage one another, “Keep coming back. It works if you work it.”
No Short Cuts
There are no short cuts, no magic mirrors, or even a pill to take that will rid you of your urge to drink. What you’ll find are people who share your journey, who understand the insanity, who know what is like to be out of control and have no clue how to keep everything together.
Ask any member and you’ll likely be surprised that all of them faced the fear of going to the meeting and having to walk through the door. Ask any member and you’ll hear their story of love and acceptance, free from judgment and condemnation. It’s what churches should be, but in so many cases are not.
Just Going Can Be The Hardest Part
Actually going to the meeting and walking in is really the hardest part of AA. Once you’re inside, there’s no need to hide, because everybody else has the same issue. Someone steps to the front of the room and say, “I’m Joe and I’m an alcoholic.” The folks respond, “Hi Joe,” an acknowledgment that he is one of them, an immediate acceptance.
Now that the barriers are removed and the connection is made, he says what he has to say. To tell you the truth, that’s the big problem with religion. People have these masks they wear, never really showing themselves to the world. Church people show up on Sunday morning with their “happy” faces on and engage in church “happy talk,” all the while hiding the reality of their life. They have social position to consider; professional obligations and images. They have so much to protect and defend.
AA members don’t have to put on the dog and pony show for each other. AA members know they are alcoholics, who need each other to navigate from day-to-day. Church goers might argue with you over the need for dealing with sin and the consequences of their actions.
After all, they are the good people, the church members. They give a ten percent tithe and their kids go to youth group. They have gone to church for years, but in all too many cases, have no clue of what the Christian message is, the reality of their own condition and the need to face that reality with courage and conviction. AA members are real.
The world looks at church members and says, “They’re hypocrites.” The world looks at AA and proclaims, “Oh that doesn’t work.” The world looks at life through secular eyes. AA members look at the world through spiritual eyes, not necessarily Christian, but through the eyes of one who understands that there’s something going on, something that can’t be easily explained.
The world looks at the church and tells us that it’s passé, that the church has nothing to offer modern man. They argue its validity in view of ever-increasing scientific knowledge. They put themselves before God and declare their own center of the universe position.
They fail to see that the sinner who enters a church for forgiveness and redemption, or the alcoholic who musters up the courage to attend an AA meeting are people who realize that they are in need and seek help. Out of that need and the realization that they are powerless by themselves, a sinner might turn to Christ and find new life and hope.
The alcoholic looks for the same and finds it in the support and companionship of fellow alcoholics, who have traveled the road and experienced the depths of human misery. The world sees no value in either, because they have the answers, they know more and they refuse to acknowledge the wisdom and gentle strength that comes from a process. Beginning with an admission that we are powerless, to save ourselves and or stay away from alcohol. The world misses the beauty of the relationships formed by strangers who have no more in common than need.
The 12 Steps Can Be Transformational
Another comparison between churches and AA is the results. “It works if you work it” is so true. The 12 Steps is transformational, just as a life dedicated to following Christ. Not every person who goes to church is a Christian and not every alcoholic who attends an AA meeting will achieve sobriety.
But those who earnestly strive to get better have an opportunity. The 12 Steps tear apart the old person and rebuild the new person. The Bible takes an equally straight forward look into the human condition and speaks of being transformed by the renewing of your mind.
There is nothing to fear but fear itself. It works if you work it. In Christ we are a new creation. The world doesn’t get this. It never will. But some will be touched by the compassion, the understanding and the acceptance. There is always hope.
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