The will of God will not take us where the grace of God cannot sustain us.
Sometimes with my A.A. wolfpack I will find myself discussing a light superficial topic like exactly what is God’s will for each of us? The question still puzzles me, even after discussing it in the rooms of A.A. for years now.
I may not know what God's will is for me but over the years I have come to have a pretty good idea of what his will for me is NOT. For example, carrying a Poland Spring water bottle full of warm vodka around with me everywhere "just in case" is probably not God's will for me. Nor is getting into cars with strangers at night to buy nose-candy. Nor is Fedexing drugs to myself across state lines or even international borders. Quite honestly, I don't think any of the unsavory activities that I engaged in while active in addiction are what God would have in store for me if He were to choreograph my perfect life.
About 3 years before I joined A.A. I was in London for work. The hotel was like something out of Oliver Twist, all creaky stairs, crooked shadows and not enough porridge. But I had made sure that there would be a minibar in my garret-like room. I would not stay in a hotel room without a minibar. This "minibar" at, shall we call it Ye Olde Battersea Arms, was nothing more than a broken down janky-ass mini-fridge sitting on the floor, centered on a large rust colored stain on top of the depressed and faded floral rug. But it was plugged in and humming. That was something. I checked in the night before my job was to start, and at the time I had a self-imposed rule: drinking the first night before an important job was absolutely forbidden. So I was not going to "party" (by myself mind you) that first night at Ye Arms. But I had bought 2 bottles of wine and I was planning on putting them in the fridge to be enjoyed the next evening after the completion of day one. I was allowed to drink during the evenings once a job had started, just not the night before the first day. You know, to make that good impression on day one.
I knelt down and tried to open the "minibar" but it felt sealed shut. Welded shut to be honest. I strained and cursed and chipped a fingernail all to no avail. It was wildly frustrating. For fear of electrocuting myself I unplugged the mini-fridge and then really went at it. I was clawing at and wrestling with that wily beast like a man possessed when suddenly the seal holding the mini-fridge door firmly shut broke and the door was thrown open.
The force behind the opening sent me sprawling across the small room. I ended up with my back against the sunken-in-the-middle bed and my legs splayed out in front of me. But I immediately noticed that I was not alone. Something had come flying off of the mini-fridge door when it popped open. An unopened pint bottle of Smirnoff vodka. It had projectiled out of the fridge, across the threadbare rug, and was lying nestled against my right foot. I was stunned. I picked up the bottle and went to put it back in the fridge. I knew I had to act quickly as of course I wanted to drink it but also knew that was "against the rules". My rules. The bottle felt sexy. Cool and smooth and inviting with the mouth-watering weight of a full pint. Pints of icy vodka were becoming my go-to but it was a school night. A no-drinking-under-any-circumstances school night and my resolve felt firm…ish.
Suddenly a voice told me very clearly and convincingly that God wanted me to drink that vodka. That this was God's will for me. That's why He sealed the door shut. That's why the bottle hit my foot. This was a message. An omen. A sign from God on high that I needed to relax and stop being so freaking uptight all the time. "Who cares if you drink before a shoot or not?" my disease asked me. "You've got this. And more importantly you deserve this! You had a long flight. You have a big day tomorrow. You’re very nervous. Just relax. Take a sip. Just a small sip."
And of course I did. Who am I to ignore the voice of God? Ignore His will for me? How dare I?
And there and then that rule about not drinking the first night before a shoot went flying out the window. I convinced myself that God wanted me to drink that vodka. He had sent it to me all nice and chilly, the way I liked it. And writing this down now I find it hard to believe that I could have been so blind. So hoodwinked by the disease of addiction. So deep into alcoholism that I would believe my own ridiculous bullshit. I was young and had a pretty good career, so obviously one part of my brain was functioning. I was aware of and adhered to the concepts of work responsibility and of being a dependable person. But addiction is sneaky. It can and will co-exist with the "better" parts of our personalities. Success and addiction can co-exist. For a little while anyway. But addiction, if left untreated, will always win. The addict, left untreated, will always lose.
I went to the shoot the next day moderately hungover. But the shoot went well. The client was pleased. And again, my alcoholic brain commended me on my decision to drink the night before the shoot. "See", it told me, "that rule was stupid. I told you. Drink before all your shoots. You'll be fine."
I continued drinking for several more years. I drank until the burden of being addicted became too heavy to bear. I stopped drinking before I completely destroyed my life and my career and I'm grateful for that. And now when I think about God's will for me I think I do have a glimmer of what it might be. It's based on the 12 steps of A.A., which thankfully were distilled down to their bare essence by Dr Bob, one of A.A'.s co-founders, who would scribble the following "doctor's orders" on his prescription pad for his sponsees:
1. Seek God. (Steps 1, 2, 3 and 11)
2. Clean house (Steps 4 through 10)
3. Help others. (Step 12)
And thankfully, that prescription for doing God's will comes with unlimited refills.
The 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous
1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol — that our lives had become unmanageable.
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.