Experiencing Growth in Hard Times

Experiencing Growth in Hard Times

I am an SA member and have been for some time a reserve soldier in one of the many warring countries on this planet. Often I get woken up by alarms. Sometimes I see rockets in the air. Friends of mine have been killed. Everything is scary and weird, surrealistic.

The day I received an order to join my unit as a reserve soldier, I arranged my equipment quickly and then went to my sponsor’s house. He told me something that has been helping me a lot ever since. “This is a war,” he said, “hard days are ahead of us. And everything—every feeling, every kind of experience—is something to face and learn from.” He encouraged me to focus on what will help me keep my serenity. We both knew that on the battlefield it would be hard for me to keep my daily routine of recovery actions. My sponsor suggested finding new ways to practice the old principles of the program: powerlessness, connection to God, service, etc. So the form of the program may have changed a lot for me during the past months, but the essence has remained the same.

Here are a few things that have helped me:

• Service. As much as I can. I have learned there are always opportunities: to ask a friend how he’s doing, to prepare food for someone, to tell a joke, to volunteer whenever needed.

• Quiet times of silence, prayer and writing. Before going to sleep, while guarding, on the way somewhere—there are many moments for it. Most of the time these moments are very short. It is hard for me to get longer moments for my time with Him, but that is where I am now and I believe my HP loves me with what I have.

• Connection with the fellowship. Whenever I can, I try to call my wonderful program buddies, and on breaks I try to attend meetings.

• Acceptance. I’ve found out this is a fertile time to practice acceptance. To allow every feeling. To accept every experience without judging. As the Big Book says on p 417: “Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens by mistake.” When it is hard for me to believe it—I’m trying to take it to God. I’m trying today to acknowledge the fact that this is a hard time and it will take my heart and mind time to process it. And that that is OK.

• Focusing on things that are good for me. Yoga, playing, good books, friends.

The AA literature says: “When World War II broke out, this spiritual principle dependence upon a Higher Power had its major test. AAs entered the services and were scattered all over the world. Would they be able to take discipline, stand up under fire, and endure the monotony and misery of war? Would the kind of dependence they had learned in AA carry them through? Well, it did. They had even fewer alcoholic lapses and emotional binges than AAs safe at home did. They were just as capable of endurance and valor as any other soldiers. Whether in Alaska or on the salerno beachhead, their dependence upon a Higher Power worked. And far from being a weakness, this dependence was their chief source of strength” (12&12 38-39).

This is also my reality today. Surprisingly, along with the difficulty and grief, I’m experiencing this hard time as a time of growth. I am so gifted—surrounded by so much love and care. I’m getting to know myself better, the dark and the bright sides. Even being a soldier is another opportunity to be in service. I’m getting to experience the presence of my Higher Power in dark places, and He keeps blessing me with the gift of recovery and sobriety. It is much more than I could imagine.


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