Nineteen and Counting
What matters more: How long one has been sober or the quality of one’s sobriety?
As we go through life, the older we get, the faster the years pass.
It seems like only yesterday I was 16, 21, 35, 50, etc…
The same holds true in recovery. It doesn’t seem like it has been all that long (19 years) since I stopped ‘picking up’ and started to turn my life around. While it doesn’t seem like “just yesterday”, neither does it seem like nineteen years have gone by since my last debauch. But I guess that’s a good thing. Right? 🙂
Perhaps it is because I spent nearly 30-years reveling in “sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll”, and I’ve only been pursuing the will of God (very imperfectly) for a mere 19 years. Not as many memories, I guess. Even so, the memories I have since I began living in recovery, are more weighty and powerful than those of my lost years — thank God! 😉
So how does one come to understand that the quality of one’s sobriety is of greater value than the quantity [amount of time sober]? By doing more than just “putting a plug in the jug.” By coming to understand that everything that happens around me is not always about me. By learning through personal experience that it truly is ‘better to give than to receive’. And how does one come to learn and experience such realities? By becoming broken before God and by becoming humble — from the inside-out. By trading in selfishness for selflessness. By thinking more about others than about myself.
These are not easy traits to come by. It is not easy to overcome a lifetime of fear, doubt, and self-loathing. We have listened to and believed the wrong people for so long, that it has become ingrained into our psyche. It takes time to unlearn all the lies and mistruths that we held onto so strongly for so long. And often times it can be even more difficult to accept the positive truths about ourself – such as the truth that we can change and that we are not beyond forgiveness and redemption. But in order for any of that to take place, we first have to get away from all the negative people and influences in our life, and become willing to seek that which can truly fill the emptiness inside our heart and our life.
Only our Creator is capable of giving our life true and lasting meaning and value. But that can only take place when we become rigorously honest with ourselves and admit that we have been chasing and worshiping idols – the false gods of pleasure, deception, and greed. We must come out of denial COMPLETELY.
Half measures availed us nothing. We stood at the turning point. We asked His protection and care with complete abandon. --Alcoholics Anonymous, page 59
As long as we deny the one true God of all creation, we are living in denial. We will remain forever powerless, forever hopeless. When we surrender our will and our life over to God, the impossible becomes possible, because all things are possible with God.
When we became alcoholics, crushed by a self-imposed crisis we could not postpone or evade, we had to fearlessly face the proposition that either God is everything or else He is nothing. God either is, or He isn’t. What was our choice to be? --Alcoholics Anonymous, page 53