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In Loving Memory of Vic

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Daily Recovery Readings — December 18

Just For Today
December 18
The Message Of Our Meetings

“The fact that we, each and every group, focus on carrying the message provides consistency; addicts can count on us.”
—Basic Text pg. 64-65

Tales of our antics in active addiction may be funny. Stories of our old bizarre reactions to life when using may be interesting. But they tend to carry the mess more than the message. Philosophical arguments on the nature of God are fascinating. Discussions of current controversies have their place—however, it’s not at an NA meeting.

Those times when we grow disgusted with meetings and find ourselves complaining that “they don’t know how to share” or “it was another whining session” are probably indications that we need to take a good, hard look at how we share.

What we share about how we got into recovery and how we stayed here through practicing the Twelve Steps is the real message of recovery. That’s what we are all looking for when we go to a meeting. Our primary purpose is to carry the message to the still-suffering addict, and what we share at meetings can either contribute significantly to this effort or detract greatly. The choice, and the responsibility, is ours.

Just for today: I will share my recovery at an NA meeting.

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Daily Reflections
December 18
HONESTY WITH NEWCOMERS

“Tell him exactly what happened to you. Stress the spiritual feature freely.”
—ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p. 93

The marvel of A.A. is that I tell only what happened to me. I don’t waste time offering advice to potential newcomers, for if advice worked, nobody would get to A.A. All I have to do is show what has brought me sobriety and what has changed my life. If I fail to stress the spiritual feature of A.A.’s program, I am being dishonest. The newcomer should not be given a false impression of sobriety. I am sober only through the grace of my Higher Power, and that makes it possible for me to share with others.

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Twenty-Four Hours A Day
December 18
A.A. Thought For The Day

Unless we have the key of faith to unlock the meaning of life, we are lost. We do not choose faith because it is one way for us, but because it is the only way. Many have failed and will fail. For we cannot live victoriously without faith; we are at sea without a rudder or an anchor, drifting on the sea of life. Wayfarers without a home. Our souls are restless until they find rest in God. Without faith, our lives are a meaningless succession of unrelated happenings, without rhyme or reason. Have I come to rest in faith?

Meditation For The Day

This vast universe around us, including this wonderful earth on which we live, was once perhaps only a thought in the mind of God. The nearer the astronomers and the physicists get to the ultimate composition of all things, the nearer the universe approaches a mathematical formula, which is thought. The universe may be the thought of the Great Thinker. We must try to think God’s thoughts after Him. We must try to get the guidance from the Divine Mind as to what His intention is for the world and what part we can have in carrying out that intention.

Prayer For The Day

I pray that I may not worry over the limitations of the human mind. I pray that I may live as though my mind were a reflection of the Divine Mind.

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As Bill Sees It
December 18
Those Other People, p.268

“Just like you, I have often thought myself the victim of what other people say and do. Yet every time I confessed the sins of such people, especially those whose sins did not correspond exactly with my own, I found that I only increased the total damage. My own resentment, my self-pity would often render me well-nigh useless to anybody.

“So, nowadays, if anyone talks of me so as to hurt, I first ask myself if there is any truth at all in what they say. If there is none, I try to remember that I too have had my periods of speaking bitterly of others; that hurtful gossip is but a symptom of our remaining emotional illness; and consequently that I must never be angry at the unreasonableness of sick people.

“Under very trying conditions I have had, again and again, to forgive others—also myself. Have you recently tried this?”

Letter, 1946

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Walk In Dry Places
December 18
The Fear Of Loneliness
Raising Self-Esteem

The fear of being alone brings strange results. It may cause us to cling to arrangements and relationships that are unsatisfactory or destructive. Some of us become enablers for loved ones who are still drinking; quite often this can involve putting up with abuse we shouldn’t have to endure.

We endure such relationships because we fear we’ll be alone and defenseless without them. We may even put up with friends who are manipulative or treacherous because we can’t visualize having happier, healthier friendships.

When we recognize that we are holding on to unsatisfactory relationships for such reasons, we need to apply the program more diligently in our own lives. Usually, we need more self-esteem—a belief that we deserve satisfactory relationships. We do not have to be alone, but neither do we have to endure what amounts to abuse and rejection.

Whether I’m with people or alone today, I’ll know that all of my relationships should be satisfactory for everybody involved. I’ll let my Higher Power guide me to the relationships that are right for me.

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Keep It Simple
December 18

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
—Franklin D. Roosevelt

As addicts, we had lots of fear. Some of us were afraid of failure. So we didn’t try to do much. Or else we tried too hard all the time. We used alcohol and other drugs to forget our fear, but it didn’t go away. It got worse. Now we know we don’t have to be afraid. When our lives are in the care of our Higher Power, we’re safe. Faith is the cure for our fear. But still, fear keeps creeping back inside us. That’s okay. It’s normal. There is so much that’s new in our sober life! We don’t know what will happen next. It’s hard to always remember to trust our Higher Power. It’s hard to always do what our Higher Power says. It’s hard to always have faith. We have to practice turning our fear over to our Higher Power.

Prayer for the Day: Higher Power, be with me when I’m afraid. Help me remember to have faith to believe in You, even when my fear tells me not to.

Action for the Day: Today, I’ll notice my fear and pray each time I get afraid.

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Each Day a New Beginning
December 18

“Destruction. Crashing realities exploding in imperfect landings. Ouch. It’s my heart that’s breaking, for these have been my fantasies and my world.”
—Mary Casey

We frequently aren’t given what we want—whether it’s a particular job, a certain relationship, a special talent. But we are always given exactly what we need at the moment. None of us can see what tomorrow is designed to bring, and our fantasies are always tied to a future moment. Our fantasies seldom correlate with the real conditions that are necessary to our continued spiritual growth.

Fantasies are purposeful. They give us goals to strive for, directions to move in. They are never as far-sighted as the goals our Higher Power has in store for us, though. We have far greater gifts than we are aware of, and we are being pushed to develop them at the very times when it seems our world is crashing down.

We can cherish our fantasies—but let them go. Our real purpose in life far exceeds our fondest dreams. The Steps have given us the tools to make God’s plan for us a reality.

How limited is my vision, my dreams. If one of mine is dashed today, I will rest assured that an even better one will present itself, if I but let it.

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Alcoholics Anonymous
December 18
ACCEPTANCE WAS THE ANSWER

The physician wasn’t hooked, he thought—he just prescribed drugs medically indicated for his many ailments. Acceptance was his key to liberation.

After nine days of tests at Mayo, I was put in the locked ward—of all places! That’s when that steel door slammed shut, and Max was the one who went home. I didn’t like being on the nut ward, and I particularly didn’t like being forced to ice cookies on Christmas Eve. So I raised enough fuss that they finally agreed to let me sign out, against medical advice. Max accepted responsibility for me after I had promised never to drink again, never to take another pill, never to swear again, and never to talk to girls again. We got on the plane and immediately had a big fight over whether I’d drink the free booze. Max won; I didn’t drink it. But by God, I wouldn’t talk or eat either! And that was how Max and I and our two daughters spent Christmas Day, eight years ago.

p. 412

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Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions
December 18

Tradition Eight — “Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever nonprofessional, but our service centers may employ special workers.”

ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS will never have a professional class. We have gained some understanding of the ancient words “Freely ye have received, freely give.” We have discovered that at the point of professionalism, money and spirituality do not miss. Almost no recovery from alcoholism has ever been brought about by the world’s best professionals, whether medical or religious. We do not decry professionalism in other fields, but we accept the sober fact that it does not work for us. Every time we have tried to professionalize our Twelfth Step, the result has been exactly the same: Our single purpose has been defeated.

p. 166

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Xtra Thoughts
December 18

“Thought is the blossom; language the bud; action the fruit behind it.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Let me tell thee, time is a very precious gift of God; so precious that it is only given to us moment by moment.”
—Amelia Barr

“Pain is never permanent.”
—Saint Theresa of Avila

“Meetings: A checkup from the neck up.”
—unknown

“Don’t give up before the miracle happens.”
—unknown

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Father Leo’s Daily Meditation
December 18
FREEDOM

“You are free and that is why you are lost.”
—Franz Kafka

Part of my understanding of spirituality is that we have many choices, and we live in moments of “not knowing.” Part of being human is that we have feelings of being lost. These feelings can lead to fear and loneliness or they can be seen as the essence of man’s risk and adventure. With freedom comes daily uncertainties; nothing is predestined or made to happen. God is in the choice. Herein lies true greatness. The fact is that we do not have all the answers. We are not sure of the results. The joys are mingled with the pain and sorrows such is the divinity of life. And yet still we choose to live!

Sobriety is accepting the reality of this uncertain life. My responsibility is accepting this freedom and making a daily choice not to drink.

May I accept my “lostness” until I return home to You.

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Bible Scriptures
December 18

” … behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.'”
—Luke 1:20-21

“Let them give thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love, and His wonderful deeds for men.”
—Psalm 107:15

“Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and He saved them from their distress.”
—Psalm 107:19

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Daily Inspiration
December 18

If you are not happy with what you have, how will you be happy with what you want to have? Lord, may I appreciate the good things in my life and refuse to feel sorry for myself or compare myself to others.

Many joys come from the simple things. Lord, open my eyes that I may see the wonders in my life and take the time to enjoy them.

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A Day At A Time
December 18

Reflection For The Day

I’m learning—all too slowly, at times—that when I give up the losing battle of trying to run my life in my own way, I gain abiding peace and deep serenity. For many of us, that learning process is a painfully slow one. Eventually, however, we understand that there are only two wills in the world, my will and God’s. Whatever is within my direct control is my will; whatever is beyond my direct control is His Will. So I try to accept that which is beyond my control as God’s will for me. Am I beginning to realize that by surrendering my will to the Divine Will, I am for the first time living without turmoil and without anxiety?

Today I Pray

May I hope that my will can be congruent with the all-encompassing will of God. I pray that I will know immediately if my will is in a useless tug-of-war with His Divine Will. May I trust God now to guide my will according to his Master Plan—and to make His purpose mine.

Today I Will Remember

Achievement comes when my will is in harmony with God’s.

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One More Day
December 18

“The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today. Let us move forward with strong and active faith.”
—Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Major changes in our lives may stun us—with delight or perhaps disbelief. After all, not all changes are negative. But when the change is negative, when illness is diagnosed or when pain pervades each day, we may begin to doubt our own inner resources. Once physically strong, we will have to dig deeper than ever to tap into our spiritual resources as well.

If we have doubts today, it may be because we are still locked into our physical selves. We are more than body, and it is our spirits that can be nourished by our caring Higher Power. Our value and importance are revealed by that care. Knowing this, we can move forward with our lives.

I will look beyond my physical body for a source of strength and care.

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One Day At A Time
December 18
ACTION

“You learn to speak by speaking, to study by studying, to run by running, to work by working; in just the same way, you learn to love by loving.”
—St. Francis De Sales (1567 – 1622) (in French, St François de Sales)

Bishop of Geneva, Switzerland and a Roman Catholic saint.

St. Francis de Sales lived from 1567 to 1622. Isn’t it amazing that a man who lived over 300 years before the birth of our recovery program could encapsulate its meaning in the above quote? Put another way, what St. Francis was saying was, “You work the program by working the program.”

I’ve met so many people who had theoretical knowledge of recovery, but no practical experience. They don’t work the program; they just talk the talk without walking the walk. I’m not proud to admit that I’ve been one of those people myself.

It’s a wonderful feeling to actually work the program, to take the Steps, and to trust in the God of my understanding to keep me working it. Paying lip service to the program doesn’t bring recovery; only working it does. Anything else is a waste of time and energy.

One Day at a Time …
I will work the program by working the program; today, I’ll take action to bring about my recovery.

Jeff

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Elder’s Meditation of the Day – December 18

“Parents have to demonstrate the value of trust, respect and honor.”
—Haida Gwaii, Traditional Circle of Elders

Children learn more by watching than by listening. If we want our children to understand and value trust, they know it by watching how adults live their lives! If we want the children to be respectful, they will observe what the adults do and say to each other. We need to walk our talk. We need to remember the children are watching.

Grandfather, help me learn these important values: Trust, Respect and Honor.

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Journey To The Heart
December 18
Celebrate Holidays but Honor Your Holy Days

Holidays help us remember important national and religious events. Holidays are marked by the calendar.

Holy days are something else. Holy days are the days we remember not because they are marked on any calendar, but because they are important spiritual events to us. These are the days our souls remember. A birthday. The day a loved one left this earth. The anniversary of a significant change in our lives– the day we started something, the day we stopped doing something, the day we accomplished something important to us, a new beginning.

Celebrate the holidays marked by the calendar in whatever way you choose. Some of these may be holy days for you as well. But remember to honor your own holy days, the ones that are special to you.

Celebrate holidays, but honor your holy days,too. Choose your own rituals. Honor what is sacred to you.

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The Language of Letting Go
December 18
Staying Open to Our Feelings

Many of us have gotten so good at following the “don’t feel” rule that we can try to talk ourselves out of having feelings, even in recovery.

“If I was really working a good program, I wouldn’t feel angry.”

“I don’t get angry. I’m a Christian. I forgive and forget.”

“I’m not angry. I’m affirming that I’m happy.”

These are all statements, some of them quite clever, that indicate we’re operating under the “don’t feel” rule again.

Part of working a good program means acknowledging and dealing with our feelings. We strive to accept and deal with our anger so it doesn’t harden into resentments. We don’t use recovery as an excuse to shut down our emotions.

Yes, we are striving for forgiveness, but we still want to feel, listen to, and stay with our feelings until it is time to release them appropriately. Our Higher Power created the emotional part of ourselves. God is not telling us to not feel; it’s our dysfunctional systems.

We also need to be careful how we use affirmations; discounting our emotions won’t make feelings go away. If we’re angry, it’s okay to have that feeling. That’s part of how we get and stay healthy.

Today, I will refuse to accept shame from others or myself for feeling my feelings.

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More Language Of Letting Go
December 18
Savor each moment

Enjoy each moment as it comes.

It’s so easy to relish that final moment, when the project is finished and the work is turned in. It’s easy to trick ourselves into thinking that peak moments in life are the only ones that count.

In Benjamin Hoff’s The Tao of Pooh, Pooh talks about the anticipation of eating his honey. The moment when the honey touches your lips is good, Pooh says. But there’s the moment right before, that moment of anticipation, that might be just as good if not better.

Go for your dreams. Go for those peak moments of performance and pleasure,too. The day you get your ten-year medallion for sobriety is a good day. Achieving that success in your career—that special award—is a wonderful moment, indeed. And those peak moments in love are indescribably delicious to experience and reminisce about.

While many people talk about being in that peak zone of pleasure all the time, most of us know that peak moments are only a very small fraction of our lives. If we only enjoy those peak moments, or those moments just before, we’ll forget to notice the importance of a lot of our lives.

Go for peak moments. But open up your heart and let the sheer raw beauty of all the moments in. When you stop looking and waiting for those peak experiences, you might find out how sweet and delicious each single moment really is.

Savor each moment of your life.

God, help me let go of anything that’s sabotaging my joy. Help me release the belief that I can only find happiness, pleasure, and joy when I’m on top of a peak.

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Today’s Gift
December 18

“Endurance is nobler than strength, and patience than beauty.”
—John Ruskin

It’s hard to keep from trying to control the lives of others, especially in a family. We can learn from the man whose friend drove twenty miles to and from work on the freeway every day. “How can you do it?” he asked. “I’ve tried, and I can’t go a mile in such traffic without screaming at the crazy drivers who cut in, go too slow, change lanes. Nobody listens. I’d lose my mind if I had to do it your way.” His friend replied, “Your trouble is trying to drive every car around you. I relax and drive only one car—my own.”

We have only our own lives to live, and this is usually enough to keep us busy. If we pay too much attention to how others live, we will neglect ourselves.

What acts of others can I ignore today?

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Touchstones Meditations For Men
December 18

“Ultimately, both parents and children are seen as individuals. For all their claims on one another, each is entitled to a life separate and distinct from the other.”
—Francine Klagsbrun

The process of untangling the relationships between ourselves and our parents—as well as with our children—is a long term process. Each of us came into the world helpless. As sons, we had no choice about relying on our parents. We reached manhood with a mixture of gratitude, guilt, and resentment. The same is true of our children. Those of us who are fathers began with an obligation to our children. We may now feel a mixture of commitment, fulfillment, and guilt.

No parent can teach a child everything he or she will need. We all do what we can to continue to learn and grow. We have lifelong commitments to each other—within reason. We are all trying to make our way as best we can. We each need to advance our own well-being and not destroy our lives for the sake of a parent or a child.

Today, I will be responsible for myself. Then I can be more responsible to others.

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Daily TAO
December 18
TEMPLATE

Must you see nature as a machine?
Is your only learning chemistry, physics, and ontology?
What if poetry was your template for life?
Can’t you know Tao by the feeling of mud in your sandals?
Thus are the sages called silly:
They have given up their prejudices.

The world appears as you perceive it. It is not that your perceptions are wholly shaped by a so-called objective world. The habit of interpretation is interactive; we do things to test our hypotheses until we have created a complicated web of sensory input and centrifugal manipulation. By the time we are “mature,” we have created innumerable layers of interpretation and biased perception that become our templates for living. Of course, we could have some fun with this situation. We could change the templates that we use to interact with the world.

What if we used poetry instead of science? What if we substituted spirituality for politics? The results of such experimentation are often fresh, happy, and unusual. Unfortunately, when carried to their logical conclusions, they are just as futile as any other method. Templates are essential for beginners, a hindrance for veterans. True followers of Tao give up all templates and are without prejudices. They return to the actions of infants. Thus they are called silly. But because they view the world with their inner eye, they transcend all the sorrows of life.

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