One of the great opportunities of living the program of Alcoholics Anonymous is our ability to become “God-Conscious.” Because our alcoholism is a brain disease, our brains reset themselves every night in our sleep to “alcoholic”. I find that I need to set my brain back every morning to “sober”.I do that by taking the first three steps of A.A. in the first moments of my day. My version goes like this: (Step One) “Good morning John, you’re an alcoholic. Pay attention! (Step Two) “There’s a God. It isn’t me.” (Step Three) I need a fresh decision, today, to turn my will and my life over to the care of God.”
To carry out Step Three, all through the day, I just consider one simple question: “What does God want me to do, right here, right now?” I try to live with the continuing, gentle thought that I am living in the presence of God, and that God wants me to keep on doing the right thing, right now, all through the day. Our “Big Book” calls this “being God-conscious.” On page 85 we read:
“Much has already been said about receiving strength, inspiration, and direction from Him who has all knowledge and power. If we have carefully followed directions, we have begun to sense the flow of His Spirit into us. To some extent we have become God-conscious. We have begun to develop this vital sixth sense. But we must go further and that means more action.”
Keeping one idea in mind all day is a skill we already have. When I was drinking and taking drugs, I thought about alcohol and drugs all the time, from my first waking thought onwards to slamming myself to sleep at night with Jack Daniels, Valium, and Percodan. I was alcohol-conscious and drug-conscious.
If I went to a three drink event and I was a nine drink drinker, there was no problem. I had three drinks before the event, three drinks during the event so that I looked like everyone else, and three drinks after the event. I hit my own stride at nine drinks. I paced myself to keep my flow coming.
To keep my flow of drugs coming, I manipulated the medical profession. When we moved to New Hampshire, I found out that Physicians’ Assistants can prescribe drugs. I went to Al-Anon Adult Children’s meetings to find a codependent female Physician’s Assistant with poor boundaries who was terribly concerned about my distress. She wrote me every prescription I wanted.
While an active addict, I supplemented that flow by visiting people’s bathrooms. I always checked their medicine cabinet. If I found an opiate prescription that was six months old, it meant you were not taking those pills. I then charged you a 20% “opiate tax” and took 20% of your pills, an amount nobody ever noticed, to keep my supply full. I thought about scoring more drugs all the time.
God-consciousness is much easier. It’s as simple as “Do the right thing, John”. Do the right thing/right now, free from the toxic selfishness that characterizes our addictions.
In a few days Priscilla and I are going on a vacation to Thailand. The Thai culture calls this “making merit” and it is part of their form of Buddhism. Even some of their advertising promotes this idea of doing the right thing right now, and simply places the company name at the end of the message. You can find an example on YouTube by entering the name “Thai Life Unsung Hero” in the You Tube box on your computer. It is an example of living out this “right thing/right now” way of life on a daily basis.
I am so happy that A.A. shows us how to shift our way of life from alcohol-consciousness to God-consciousness.
John MacDougall is the Spiritual Care Coordinator at The Retreat
His book, “Being Sober and Becoming Happy” is available from Amazon.com