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April 1994

On the Move

The god of my understanding is with me now wherever I go

My wife and I are about to move for the fourth time since I got sober in AA in Denver, Colorado in 1978. Moving means selling a comfortable home, buying a new one, getting used to new coworkers, discovering a trustworthy mechanic for the car, finding a new barber, and choosing a favorite grocery store. It also means finding new AA and Al-Anon meetings, and searching out a new sponsor.

My first move, which came just before my sixth AA birthday, was perhaps the most wrenching. I got sober while living in Colorado. My newly discovered conception of God was reinforced by the experience of hiking in the beauty of the Rocky Mountains. In such an environment, it was easy to sense God's presence.

The move required me to go ahead to the strange town, live alone for some time, then be rejoined by my family in our new home. I began to attend a "Twelve and Twelve" discussion meeting held in a local club. It happened that most attendees of this meeting were newly sober, if sober at all. Being somewhat lonely, I found solace in the fact that most of the members regarded me as the expert. As the weeks went by, I became a self-appointed guru. I had no sponsor, few phone numbers, did little service work, and mostly just attended my weekly meeting at the club. My comfort came from the attention received from the newcomers.

Some ten months after our move, my company's accountant came to talk to me. It happened that he was an AA member and had about fourteen years in the Fellowship. He sat with me silently in that way AA friends have when there's something serious to say. He said, "You need to do something. Otherwise I think you may get drunk." I was amazed! I protested. I described my selfless dedication to the new members at the "Twelve and Twelve" meeting. I related how I was carrying the message of experience, strength, and hope to these unfortunate drunks, helping them to understand how to find the spiritual awakening that had saved me. My friend listened patiently. Then he wrote down two names. He suggested that I attend a particular home group meeting. He advised me to approach either of these men and ask one to sponsor me.

Within days, I realized that my friend was right on the mark. At the meeting I found one of the men whose names had been given to me. The words that fell out of my mouth were something like, "Hi, my name is Tim, and I really need some help--will you be my sponsor?" This man looked at me for a moment, then said "Yes."

Not long afterward, my new sponsor and I were sitting in his car, waiting for a meeting room to be unlocked. We were still getting acquainted. He asked me about my conception of God. I described at length my experiences in the Colorado high country. At last he said, "Does your God live here also?" I sat for a moment. Then total sadness swept through me. I choked back a flood of tears. After some minutes had passed, he said quietly, "I think you need to invite him to live with you in this town as well."

I joined my sponsor's home group and at his urging began to work as the group's first Grapevine representative. New friends appeared who ranged from the newly sober to longtimers. I was a member of a well-established group again. Fairly soon, a sense of comfort returned.

Next week I will be on the move again. No doubt I will be lonely and uncomfortable at times. The difference is that the God of my understanding is with me now wherever I go. I have also discovered that I must enter into the mainstream of the AA Fellowship wherever I am. I have to seek out a cross-section of that Fellowship, make friends, and be a friend. Then I will (to borrow a phrase) "again experience the sense of ease and comfort which comes" when I am a regular member of AA.

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