There are certain places I’ve felt instantly, viscerally at home. That’s how I felt about New England and the small town where I lived. Other places took a while. The deep South was a culture shock to a girl who had grown up in L.A. And the sprawling metropolitan desert city I now inhabit? Well let’s just say it had to grow on me.
The thing is, it has. It’s where I belong.
Today, I also feel that way about my Al-Anon home group. I feel a part of things. I feel accepted. I feel loved. But I didn’t always. It wasn’t the group I wanted to make my home group. It was too far away and too late. I wanted to make a different group my home group. One that was closer and earlier and that I loved immediately and with all my heart.
But God had other plans. I couldn’t attend that group regularly. Taking service commitments would have been problematic. But Monday night? I’m almost always home on a Monday night. And over time, God firmly planted me there.
Looking around the room last night, I realized that I couldn’t leave the group if I wanted to. Scattered about the room, I saw most of my little Al-Anon family, five of my six sponsees. They are there every week. The only one who doesn’t attend this meeting lives out of town. So now I’m like a potted plant, and the thing is I’m thriving where I’ve been planted.
That was in keeping with the topic of last night’s meeting. It was yesterday’s reading from “Courage to Change.” It begins:
“In the words of Oscar Wilde, ‘In this world there are only two tragedies. One is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it. Of the two, the last is much the worse.’
Translation: My will gets me into trouble…. Maybe that’s why not one of the steps talks about carrying out my will.”
The rest of the reading was about learning to let go of self-will and instead seeking the guidance of a Higher Power.
I can relate to this on so many levels. I’ve been trying to impose my will for as long as I’ve drawn breath. In the AA Big Book, that’s referred to as “self-will run riot.”
But today, I can also see how it’s only gotten me into trouble.
Here’s something I came across on a website about Al-Anon. I was directed there by a blogger, but I can’t remember which one, it’s been so long ago.
This quote from a psychologist who specializes in addiction got my attention:
“I do not insist that the patient or I make a clear connection between the patient’s complaints and the presence of alcoholism. I suggest the patient use AlAnon as part of the diagnostic process and I use the familiar recommendation that the person may decide after attending six meetings whether the program seems to be useful.
“Frequently the most useful information emerges from the patient’s reactions to the AlAnon meetings. A feeling of not belonging is usually connected to the sense of estrangement that is common among alcoholic families. If the patient felt burdened by listening to others at a meeting, it is a telltale sign that this person assumes overwhelming responsibility for someone else’s behavior.”
In other words, feeling you don’t belong is a good sign that you do. Hence the recommendation to attend six meetings.
It reminded me of something I heard someone say at a meeting recently. She said Al-Anon had taught her that the right thing to do was often exactly the opposite of what she wanted to do, or did instinctively.
For me, this means that my will and God’s plans are seldom the same. So I don’t use my feelings as a guide as much as I used to. I didn’t “want” to make my Monday night my home group. But God seemed to have other ideas. The circumstances in my life kept pointing me in that direction. So I stayed.
Today I know that God’s surprises always work out better than my plans. I also know that God always wins. Acceptance just makes it easier for me.
Sometimes that just means doing what’s in front of me, asking for the next right action, until God puts something else there. Then I work on that. I don’t see these unplanned interruptions as unwelcome intrusions anymore. I see then as welcome guidance, and I embrace them.