“If we are painstaking…”

So begin the promises of AA (and all 12-Step programs).  On the bottom of page 83 of The Big Book, you can read all of them (or just click on “The Promises” at the top of this page).  They are the whole reason why those of us in program continue to fight, one day at a time.

For years I thought this word “painstaking” meant “pain-STAKING.”  In my mind, I imagined staking-up plants, the way you do in a garden using poles.  As usual, my mental images reflect where I am at any given point in my life.  I envisioned myself as the down-trodden, sweaty gardener struggling to force stakes made of my pain (tears, hard work, time,…) into a barren patch of land that eventually,…hopefully,…MAYbe will sprout and grow and produce fruit (the promises).

Sounds pretty dreary, doesn’t it?

Now my take on this wording is far more positive…

I picture a lush garden bursting with life.  Leafy plants of every size, shape, and variety, some with flowers, some with fruit yet to be ripened, some with vegetables begging to be picked, all hearty and healthy and in a constant state of rejuvenation.  I am the contented gardener (although I still am sweaty!), happy to be doing the work that needs to be done.  The word “painstaking” here means “painS-TAKING” in the way that the gardener is “taking pains” (i.e., being careful) to do everything necessary to be sure that the garden has everything it needs to thrive.

Since we are reading the promises, we need to pay close attention to the meaning of each and every word so that we can absorb the maximum benefit of all that is being said.  Here we are being “promised” freedom from our disease IF we are painstaking in the process of doing The 12 Steps – – IF we take great care, and IF we are fearless and thorough.  If you are in relapse and trying to get out, it IS enough just to show-up until you are able to re-connect to your Higher Power and get abstinent.  However, once you are “clean,” if you really want to get well and STAY well, it is NOT enough to simply go to meetings and make friends with other members.  There is hard work to be done and lots of it.  But in the end it is SO worth!

I “promise!”

June 8, 2012 This post was written by Categories: On "The Promises" Tagged with:

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