My experience at an AA meeting…

On Monday afternoon I drove to “Happy Hour.”[1] A group of about twenty, gathered to share their experiences under the deadly addiction of alcoholism. I walked in quietly to a room filled with the stench of cigarette. The ceiling was blackened with mold and the carpet stained almost at every spot. My first thought was how much that room reflected their lives: stained and darkened. The meeting began as Luke read about the purpose of the AA. Hi, my name is Luke and I am an alcoholic. “Hi Luke”, everyone replied. Some introduced themselves in the same manner. One young man introduced himself explaining that it was his first time with the group.

The first part of the meeting was a reading from the big book as they call it. The first reading summarized the AA creed and the second was a passage from the “book.” I noticed that almost everyone had a copy of it. It looked just like a Bible, and indeed, they treated it as such.

After the reading, Luke opened the time of discussion by sharing his own testimony. It appeared as if he had shared it millions of time. The group nodded and affirmed him as a congregant affirms his pastor with an “amen.” Luke, then, left the discussion open for a topic. A young woman in her 40’s broke the silence by speaking about the powerlessness of alcoholism. After that, everyone spoke. There was no fear! Some had been sober for over 30 years, others, for 30 days. The group was diverse, but their stories were so similar that it sounded like it came from a textbook. One spoke about how everyday he would promise to stop and everyday like it for 10 years. Another spoke about her sobriety for 3 years until unexpectedly being offered a drink; she though that she had overcome it, but that one drink led her to another 10 years of addiction. The power of that first sip was overwhelming.

They looked tired and worn beyond their age, but all had overcome alcoholism, even it had been just an hour. They were at the right place. They appeared strengthened by each testimony, each word of encouragement. It was almost as if every time they met they were fit to live one more day sober.

That community was a striking resemblance to the community God calls us to enjoy. Their commitment to one another and their sincere desire to see their brothers and sisters overcome this miserable evil was the most genuine expression of self-sacrifice I have witnessed outside the church.

It is true that God the higher power is unable to help them in their need, but it is also true that a community is able to thrive when united for a common cause. Perhaps for some Christ is their God. Only Christ can bring true serenity and only Christ can heal their diseases. Nevertheless, in the end, who am I to judge their success. It was God himself who instituted the community. In or outside the church, the world benefits from loyalty and commitment.

In the last part of the meeting we all stood in a circle, held hands, and recited the Lord’s Prayer. Yes, Lord, deliver me from the evil one and strengthen me in my own addictions for thine is kingdom and the power and the glory. Amen.

[1] Happy Hour is the name of the “Alcoholics Anonymous” group that meet 3 times a week. As part of one of my assignments for Introduction to Counseling, I had to attend one of their meetings, in order to understand a little better the nature of addiction.

About Uri Brito

I am the Pastor of Providence Church (CREC) in Pensacola, Fl.
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3 Responses to My experience at an AA meeting…

  1. Pingback: The Crossed Pond » And Now For Something Completely Different

  2. Pingback: 2010 in review « Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

  3. Pingback: Pastoral Counsel, Maturity, Caution, Alcoholism, and Ten Theses: Some Further Reflections | Resurrectio et Vita

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