Texts for Preaching
Staying the course is not a straight line
I am told that the automatic pilot in an airplane does not work by locking onto a course and sticking to it. Instead, it steers back and forth over the path of an assigned course and makes the necessary corrections when it senses that it has strayed.
In reality, the autopilot is on course only 5 or 10 percent of the time. The other 90 or 95 percent of the time, it is off course and correcting for its deviation.
I, too, must make continuous adjustments. I am much more willing to do so today because I have stopped expecting myself to be perfectly on course. I am bound to make plenty of mistakes, but with the help of the program, I am learning to accept mistakes as an inevitable part of the adventure of living.
Courage To Change pg.60
Step Two or not at all
“Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity,” filled me with hope that I could live a sane and balanced life. In my family, there was never a sense of balance, just extremes – poverty and plenty, power and helplessness, violence and uneasy calm. I longed for balance, for a feeling of normalcy that might help me feel safe and connected to others.
When I first came to a Twelve Step meeting for adult children, several people assured me that the hope offered in Step Two was real. As I listened, I began to see the miracle of other members being restored to sanity and finding balance in their lives. I heard their stories change in tone from worry to faith and from confusion to clarity.
By witnessing these miracles, I came to believe that God could lead me to a saner way of life. I surrendered, asked for help, and relied on my Higher Power to restore me to sanity. The answer to my plea was to learn how to live the Serenity Prayer. With help from fellow members, I slowly began to define balanced manageability for myself. God helped me discern the difference between letting go of the things I could not control and changing the things I could.
I once thought balance was the privilege of those who had grown up in normal, non-alcoholic families. I thought I was permanently damaged by the chaotic extremes of my childhood. Now I know it’s possible to be made whole, to be rebuilt, to be restored to sanity.
Hope For Today pg. 211
The Thursday Night Organizing Committee,
who I like to think of as
a herd of cats
gave me this topic to talk about:
The problem is,
I think “Balance” is a myth.
I also think Mental “Health” is a myth,
but that’s just me.
I’m going to tell you something
I have been embarrassed about
for almost half a century.
I did not learn to ride a bicycle
until I was 8 ½ years old!
All my friends could ride bikes.
My three sisters could ride a bike.
The neighborhood bully could ride a bike.
Hell, the oldest lady on the street
used to ride past me and smiled.
I could not ride a bike.
I tried and tried and tried.
I simply fell off –
I tried and tried
until I was too old
and too embarrassed for anyone to know
that I could not ride a bike.
But even then, I still tried secretly.
our neighbors and my family
had a wooden stockade fence
around our two adjoining yards,
so I could try riding around in the grass
without anyone seeing me.
But it was no use.
Eventually I just stopped trying.
I gave up being part of the fun
when the whole neighborhood gang
hopped on their bicycles
and rode off into the afternoon sun.
Then one day,
having given up for over a year,
I was at a friend’s house
in a neighborhood not my own.
My friend went into the house
and I saw a lonely bicycle in his garage.
I looked this way and that,
and with no one in view in any direction,
I tried it again.
Just like magic
I could ride.
As if I had never had any trouble
I suddenly experienced the
incredible freedom of wheels.
Balance is something we discover
by falling over,
often by falling on our faces;
and it is something that we never get to keep.
I told the ‘cat herders’
that I do not know anything about balance,
and that the old saying holds true:
“Those that can do,
and those that can’t PREACH.”
Most of my life has been out of balance,
so everything I can think to tell you about balance
I have learned from falling on my face.
I have to tell you that
or I would feel like the most grotesque
hypocrite in the world
standing up here talking about ‘balance.’
just to be brutally honest,
I don’t believe in it.
I do not believe it exists,
at least not for more than a second or two.
It’s like the proverbial “living in the moment”
which can be done
nanosecond by nanosecond.
Balance is something
that New Age folks
and the so-called “Wellness” folks
like to talk about –
as if it is a product
we can purchase.
But I know what you also know,
‘balance’ is a myth.
In fact, I would go so far
as to speculate
that everybody in this sanctuary
knows much more about being
than any of us know about being in-balance.
Anyone who has been addicted
or loved someone who is addicted
or has been addicted to love, for that matter,
knows what the “whirlies” are all about.
By whirlies, I do not mean
that god-awful spinning in the head.
I mean the head-spinning extremes
of intense happiness
and intense remorse
and intense love
and intense anger
and intense excitement
and intense dread
and intense anxiety
and intense anything.
For those in the whirlwind of addiction
and early in recovery,
whether an addict or their family or friend,
bouncing between the extremes of intensity
is a way of life.
is an extreme –
it is a dizzying whirlwind
that guarantees we will live off-balance.
And part of the sickness is
we come to like it that way.
Without an extremes
and the intensity that goes with it,
we get bored,
and generally dissatisfied.
Does that sound familiar?
does not mean finding the midway
it means learning to live with extremes
as something out-of-the-ordinary.
Well, I know there are lots of opinions out there,
and probably lots of prescriptions
for how to arrive at that place of greater balance.
But the first thing that has to happen,
is a decision that
that is what we really want.
For many of us,
if not most of us,
it is a leap of faith.
We have lived with the extremes
for so long
that we are afraid
of giving them up.
We are not really sure,
even though we quit drinking
or go to Al-anon five times a week,
that we can really live without frequent doses of intensity.
So we have to decide
that the sanity God will restore us to
is really something we want to live with.
Then, once or if we decide that,
I have one little piece of concrete advice.
Now, I am certain that there are more
and even better pieces of advice out there,
but this one is mine,
at least for tonight:
Integrate your life.
Anyone with a secret or secrets –
which means all of us who have ever lived
in or around this terrible disease –
anyone with secrets,
has built a life
with circles of friendship and activity
that are segregated from one another.
We did not want those people
talking to each other
and comparing notes about us.
We did not want
all the people who knew us
to put two-and-two together
or increase their leverage to influence us,
and so we kept those people and activities
segregated from one another.
But even once we
and/or our partner or family member got sober,
often we left the segregation in tact —
because of the recovery programs
we are involved with,
our lives got even more segregated.
If we want balance,
to learn to live without bouncing between extremes,
it is all those people we know and love
who are helping to keep us honest
that will lead us into balance.
It is like that reading we heard tonight,
about planes flying on autopilot.
Our friends and family
are the ones who can help us keep from deviating
from left to right
and front to back,
zigzagging from intensity to intensity.
we can learn to zig less
and zag less,
and moderate the behaviors
and the thinking
that keep us from the sanity
we say we desire.
God does not work in a vacuum.
God works through the people in our lives –
through our family and friends,
and sometimes even strangers.
In order to help God and our family and friends
continue restoring us to sanity,
we need to give them access to each other.
We need to re-integrate our lives
and allow the many circles
of people and activities
and even form an alliance
that will help us learn
to live with far fewer extremes
and much less intensity
than we came to imagine is normal.
The myth of balance
is that there is some magical spot
we can inhabit
in which we will be
overwhelmed with peace and serenity –
of peace and serenity.
balance feels much more…
well, much more ordinary than that;
not intense at all.
Balance feels like
living in the ordinary
where extremes and intensity
are rare indeed.
Let us pray.
restore us to sanity,
but slowly and gently
so we get used to it a little at a time. Amen.