Al-Anon Lifer

Anonymous sharings from a long-time member of Al-Anon, which is a safe place to recover from the effects of alcoholism in a friend or relative...

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

God's Will for My Life?

I’ve spent most of my life trying to figure out God’s will for my life. Yet when I look back, I have managed to accomplish a few things of note: I’ve stayed married for 34 years, most of those to a practicing alcoholic; I raised three wonderful children who have all finished college and live fairly normal, happy lives; I’ve written and published two books and been published elsewhere in books, newspapers, and periodicals; and I’ve edited several books and articles for other authors. I also went back to college in my thirties while raising kids and keeping house. Most important, I’ve been a grateful member of Al-Anon for half my married life, doing service work and sponsoring others. So why do I feel unfulfilled?

Perhaps the problem is that I was told as a child and teenager that I should be either a concert pianist or Miss America; in other words, I should achieve greatness. But I was never good in front of an audience. In Junior High School, I froze when accompanying the choir in front of the student body and their parents. As an adult singing in church, I forgot the words halfway through and simply left the podium and went to my seat. Even today when I speak, I get very nervous even though I know my Greater Power is speaking through me. I never know what I say, although many people tell me afterward that I was really good and passed on the recovery aspect of the program.

Yet the life I’m living now in my fifties still feels empty. Why? Because I don’t think I’ve accomplished anything or do anything worthwhile. Why? Because I have this core belief that I haven’t fulfilled my destiny. I’m attempting to write another book, but every idea I come up with and start soon becomes dormant, one for almost twenty years now. Why? Well, it could be because my last two book projects did not do well and I’m afraid of failure again. Or because, as my sponsor tells me, maybe I’m not supposed to be a writer. Maybe what I’m doing with my life is God’s will. But what am I doing now? I’m retired, so I have no daily purpose other than to get up, pray and meditate, and take care of my chores and daily needs. I also connect with my family members, including my granddaughter, as well as other people in the program.

But it doesn’t feel like enough. It doesn’t feel fulfilling. Perhaps I need to look at my life with a new set of eyes. Perhaps I need to judge myself the same way I judge others. For example, who are the women in my life whom I admire the most? First, my sponsor, who was an elementary school teacher in her former life. She raised one child, has one grandchild, and cared for her mother (in her home) until her death. Most important, she has been in Al-Anon for three decades plus, attends meetings regularly, checks in with her sponsor, and sponsors many people herself. But has she achieved greatness? Not in the world’s microscope, but as far as I’m concerned, she strives daily to do God’s work by being the best person she can be and helping others to do the same.

Then there is my mother-in-law who is a loving and kind person. Yes, she worked and had a satisfying career, but her greatest achievement is her family which consists of eleven grandchildren and six great-grandchildren with two more on the way. They visit her often and care about her so much that they are planning a family reunion this Christmas. Everyone will be there. It is not an option. Not every woman has family that goes out of their way for them, but she does. Likewise, I have a grandma who at 102 still lives in her own home and has many people who drop by for a visit, even though her short-term memory keeps her from knowing who they are from one minute to the next. She is loved because she loved, unconditionally. I asked her several years ago what her secret was and she told me: I don’t hold grudges.

Grandma never achieved greatness, but she is indeed a great great grandmother. She never did anything of significance for me, but she did everything by loving me when neither of my parents seemed to be capable of providing that basic need. Even today, one of the first things she says when I visit her is: I love you. I believe she is still alive today to continue to pass on the importance of loving others, not just doing for others. My aunt, who lives next door to grandma and sees to her daily needs, does a lot for others. But she is another woman who refrains from judging them and attracts others to her home, simply by being a kind and generous person. I am staying in her home this week so she can enjoy a vacation with her husband. Taking care of Grandma is easy for me; it is the least I can do for both of these women.

Yet, I have big plans this week. I’m going to get that novel started. I brought my writing and research books with me. But instead, last night I spent pouring over written family histories I found in Grandma’s cupboard. Real life, it turns out, is more interesting than fiction. Perhaps I’ll write Grandma’s history instead of my novel. Or perhaps I won’t. Perhaps I’ll just blog more and enjoy my life the way it is. As my sponsor says: It is what it is. Perhaps I am achieving greatness by being here so my aunt can take a week off. After all, she’s in her eighties and never thought she’d still be caring for Grandma. Perhaps I am accomplishing the same thing these other great women in my life have accomplished: to love others the way they have been loved (even if they were mistreated at times). Perhaps what I am doing today is God’s will for my life. Perhaps this is enough. If it was for these other women, it can be for me.

I was inspired to blog this today when I saw this magnet on my aunt’s fridge, so I want to pass it on:


“What a concept,” my sponsor would say. Think about it. This day, what I am doing, how I am being, is all that matters. It is enough.

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At Wednesday, November 28, 2007 5:34:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Every day I try to say the 3rd step prayer. It's on a little card which I use as a bookmark in my ODAT: "God, I offer myself to Thee, to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help, of Thy Power, Thy Love and Thy Way of Life, may I do Thy will always." (The Big Book Page 63 -- Let go, Let God)
It is so often easier to see the "greatness" of others than it is to see our own.
Take care, Judy

At Wednesday, November 28, 2007 5:57:00 PM, Blogger pat said...

Thank you for an inspiring wonderful post.


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