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JUST “MACDOUGALL IT”

[fa icon="calendar"] Nov 6, 2017, 8:00:00 AM / by John MacDougall

I was recently speaking with a very impulsive Retreat guest who had difficulty maintaining a focus on one thing for very long. I was not surprised that his drug of choice was meth, because at the beginning of his meth use it actually calmed him down. At The Retreat we do Big Book studies that are two hours long at a time, and this was tough for him. He told me “I need something short and simple, that can work for me.”jmd.png


I may have the opposite problem. I can handle long, complex ideas without difficulty. I can read long books and study detailed scientific texts. Either way, it is easy to miss the benefits of a simple program called Alcoholics Anonymous, so I told him what I do when I first wake up every day.

First Thing In The Morning, I take the first three steps of A.A. by saying to myself:

(Step 1) “Good morning, John, you’re an alcoholic. Pay attention!

(Step 2) “There’s a God. It isn’t me.”

(Step 3) “I need a fresh decision, today, to turn my will and my life over to the care of God.”

So, how? How am I going to turn my will and my life over to the care of God today?

I think of my life as unfolding as a series of scenes, or blocks of time. In each scene I ask the same question: “What does God want me to do about whatever is right in front of me, right now?"

Answer the question. Do that. 

Then the scene changes, but the question remains the same: What does God want me to do now, and then, and then, and then, all through the day.

The answer is going to be pretty close to “Do the right thing, right now.” “Right thing, right now; right thing, right now."

If I keep on doing the right thing, right now, all through the day, at the end of the day I will have turned my will and my life over to the care of God, and it wasn’t difficult.

I don’t need to know God’s will for my whole life, or for the next twenty years. I just need to know and do the right thing, right now.

How can I know the right thing? If I’m not drunk, I have a conscience and it works. I can know the right thing. I may not want to know. I may not want to know that I know, but I can know.

If I still have doubt about the right thing, I take what I think is right, and check it out with a group of sober friends in A.A. If they laugh at me, it was just my ego speaking. If they ratify the idea, it’s probably right. We use the fellowship to check out our ideas.  

So, I take the first three steps of A.A. first thing in the morning. Then I do the right thing, right now, all through the day. It works.

He liked the idea, and started telling his peers at The Retreat “Just MacDougall it!" Take the first three steps every morning. He called his sister, all excited, and she made two plaques, one for him and one to give me, that said “Just MacDougall it”.

I do follow, and I do apply all twelve steps in my life. At age 68, I need a boost in the morning to get going on my day. Taking the first three steps, and then seeking God’s will in everything I do, is working well for me. I think it will work well for you.

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Topics: Alcoholics Anonymous, 12 Steps, recovery community

John MacDougall

Written by John MacDougall

John MacDougall is the Spiritual Care Coordinator at The Retreat.
His book, “Being Sober and Becoming Happy” is available from Amazon.com

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