This is a Christmas message sent out by Bill in 1944:
To all AA members
Greetings on our 10th Christmas, 1944. Yes, it’s in the air! The spirit of Christmas once more warms this poor distraught world. Over the whole globe millions are looking forward to that one day when strife can be forgotten, when it will be remembered that all human beings, even the least, are loved by God, when men will hope for the coming of the Prince of Peace as they never hoped before. But there is another world which is not poor. Neither is it distraught. It is the world of Alcoholics Anonymous, where thousands dwell happily and secure. Secure because each of us, in his own way, knows a greater power who is love, who is just, and who can be trusted. Nor can men and women of AA ever forget that only through suffering did they find enough humility to enter the portals of that New World. How privileged we are to understand so well the divine paradox that strength rises from weakness, that humiliation goes before resurrection; that pain is not only the price but the very touchstone of spiritual rebirth. Knowing its full worth and purpose, we can no longer fear adversity, we have found prosperity where there was poverty; peace and joy have sprung out of the very midst of chaos. Great indeed our blessings! And so Merry Christmas to you all – from the Trustees, from Bobbie and from Lois and me.
Bill was writing of course towards the end of a world war. Hard times indeed. Bill calling the world “poor and distraught” couldn’t be more fitting for right now, with a global pandemic on the loose. We’re all feeling the effects of this awful pandemic, emotionally, spiritually, mentally and physically– to one degree or another. I’ve found the last ten months or so tough, not seeing family, being in my own home for most of the time, my stream of income badly hit. I can struggle with anxiety over loved ones, loneliness, and over my own health and future. I worry about getting older, being alone, broke ad infinitum… you get the picture! But I use my AA tools on a daily basis to change how I see and feel.
Bill points out that we AAs live in a world which is not poor. The world of Alcoholics Anonymous. Where each of us has security in knowing we are looked after by “a greater power who is love”. Where each of us learns that suffering brings humility, that strength comes out of weakness and that pain is “the very touchstone of spiritual rebirth”.
This is true for me. I know today that pain and suffering aren’t futile. but lead me somewhere great. Inside of myself. I grow and become stronger and more at peace in the discovery of deeper wells of strength within me. Today, I can turn how I see things around. Today, it is in my control, through my Power working within, to ensure each day is a happy, joyous and free day.
I can hand those worries about loved ones over first thing.
I was told early in sobriety that I might not be able to stop the first negative thought about something but I have control over the second thought! I can refuse to let it in.
I can keep my head where my hands are.
I can do the next right thing.
I can connect in prayer and meditation to improve my conscious contact. This suspends me thinking about myself and hey ho I often don’t see my problem in the same way afterwards.
I can reach out to someone else and ask how they are. This suspends me thinking about myself and hey ho I often don’t see my problem in the same way afterwards, even though I didn’t even mention it! The miracle of giving of oneself..
I can get involved in many kinds of service, in AA and in my church or community using Zoom. This fills me up with peace. Problems recede. I see it all within a new and glowing light, within me.
I can “add to” not “take from”.
Most of all I have faith that a Higher Power provides for me this day. And I have HOPE! I have to have hope. I don’t mean expectations for certain things but great hope that my God provides exactly what I need.
I’ve discovered a wonderful Zoom group around which I structure my week. This has been a blessing that came out of the tragedy of the pandemic. I’ve made connections I otherwise wouldn’t have made. A bunch of like-minded souls that I love.This gives me peace and joy– it’s wonderful. I do “dwell happily and secure” when I do these things. When I live in the solution and not the problem (can be so tempting, this last one!)
I put in extra prayer time this week about work, and asking for guidance– I’ve had repeated rejections for online work because the market is packed full right now, and they’re paying buttons.
Today I’ve taken on work that will lift my income a substantial bit, teaching from home. I have another concern re my loved one that I’m finding hard not to worry about which is why I need extra prayer time set aside. When I hand it ALL over to the God of my understanding, and not hold on to the coattails, I swear I am overcome by how much my God loves me.
Prosperity, peace, joy, blessings– Bill uses these words above to a wartorn world in 1944. I’m so glad to read this today, as it confirms for me that all my happiness depends on my inner world, not what is happening out there. I don’t have to let what’s happening around me control me. Today I am free to change my world from the inside out.
I have a lot of uncertainty with what’ll happen around Christmas. But I’m keeping my head where my hands are– right in the here and now, one day at a time. I need to experience serenity on a daily basis and I can’t do that when I leap into the future– even the near future.
How do you turn around your thinking when life feels tough to handle? How do you bring serenity back centre stage? Share about Christmas or, if you don’t do that, then the holiday period. Or whatever you feel moved to share about.
The floor is yours, ladies.