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Old 09-10-2016, 02:35 PM   #4
honeydumplin
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 115
Default A Great, Laughing Love

When I was about eleven years old, some friends of my parents, who were devout Baptists, took my sister and me and their own kids to one of those hell-and-brimstone, evangelist tent meetings. The speaker scared the absolute bejesus out of me! I was first in line to be saved at the end of his rant, and although I relaxed a little on the way home, the next night (because you go every night the showís in town you know?) I was completely terrified all over again. From that day on, I knew I was damned. I was just a bad person who would never make it to heaven.

For a while, though, I still tried to get in good with the Lord. I became quite the Bible thumper and must have annoyed the heck out of my parents. I went to Sunday school and regular services every week and joined the choir, prayer groups, and youth groups. But I had this tendency to question dogma that seemed to make the teachers and preachers uncomfortable. Then, when I was sixteen, I started drinking and doping, and all bets were off.

Fast-forward to me at age thirty-five with no front teeth, bloated, yellow, unable to eat, and filled with deep, black horrible despair, staggering drunk into a detox and making some smart-aleck crack about God just before I passed out. Like many before me (Bill W. and Dr. Bob included), I looked around at a world filled with hate, war, atrocity, and disease and laid it all at Godís door. Who needs him? Iím damned anyway, so screw it.

On my third day in detox, a counselor asked me if I prayed. I snorted. Then she made a deal with me: if I got on my knees that night and asked for help (never mind about those rote prayers) and did not feel a difference the next day, I could choose never to pray again. ďSure Iíll take that deal,Ē I said. There I was, bedraggled, sick, and empty of anything human or decent or hopeful, and still I was sneering.

When my knees hit the cold linoleum beside the narrow hospital bed that night, however, I wasnít sneering. Nor was I alone. Iíve wondered about what happened that night many times. It easily could have been due to the poison simply leaving my system. But I remember being in the presence of a great, laughing love. I had the sense that ďsomeoneĒ was there with me, and that someone was hugely delighted that I was there. I was flooded with the knowledge that I was deeply loved and that everything was going to be all right.

Iíve never felt that overwhelming light and warmth again, but I havenít needed toóeven though I sure would like to! In fact, when I pray, sometimes I still feel as if Iím on my knees in the dark talking to myself. But I sure donít skip my praying first thing in the morning and the last thing at night and whenever I need it in-between.

There is something I donít understand at work here; whatís more, I donít need to understand it or define it or even name it. I know today that I can depend on this power absolutely, no matter what.

Iím so grateful for the life Iím blessed to live today, for the company Iím privileged to keep (including every one of you reading this), and for the release from the obsession and despair that ruled me for nearly eighteen years. The program of AA, the Fellowship, and the Steps have transformed what was a dead, empty hunger into a life of usefulness and fun and caring. Thank you all for opening your mouths to let the voice of God, as I understand God, speak.

--Tammy R. Cleveland, Ohio
AA Grapevine
Our Meeting in Print
November 2000
p. 14 & 15
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