This week’s Here’s To Your Health is the conclusion of Sister Ruth’s story…The greatest feeling I can have comes to me with the thought that God loves me. Who am I to deserve such an honor? When we keep tuned to God’s will we develop a sixth sense that keeps our thinking straight and if we keep that straight we won’t drink! Some people call that a gut feeling, and I often ask the women I sponsor, “What’s your gut feeling about this,” ever since I worked the 12 steps and got sober, my gut feeling has never lied to me.
For fifty-seven years I walked around like a robot, but today I have a whole new life and I’m so excited about that. While I was drinking, suicide was always on my mind and I probably would have eventually done it because I could not have gone on much longer the way I was. Today I like the person I see in the mirror and I can walk down the street and look people in the eye; that’s a whole new thing for me, especially since I encounter so many desperate people who cannot.
A.A. works, it really does! I used to pray and ask God for all kinds of favors, and people used to come to us because they thought we had an inside line with God. But, I have news for you, we all have an inside line with God if we practice daily prayer and meditation. People asked me to pray for their job, wife or husband and for all sorts of problems, but the truth is that I have no idea what God’s will for them is. So when people ask me to pray for them I ask God to take them in His hands and do what’s best for them. God, thy will not mine, be done. Father Martian said that he asks God, “Help me, help them and help them, help me.”
Once there was an alcoholic named Don C. who was a patient at St. Thomas Hospital, he asked Sister Ignatius to pray for him, and she said, “I will, but why don’t you pray for yourself too because God loves to hear strange voices!” Don C. also told me that A.A. is like a polished diamond and when he’d call me on the telephone he’d ask, “Are you keeping your diamond polished? This program is a precious gem and it’s our job to keep it polished and we do that by doing service work, attending meetings and sponsoring people. I really believe that when I die God’s going to ask me, “What did you do with the gift I gave you?”
I love the story about the Shepard and the lost lamb because that’s the way I was; always getting lost. A foreign missionary shared with me that when a lamb won’t stay with the flock the shepherd finds it, breaks its front legs and then puts it around his neck and keeps it there until its legs heal and that lamb learns his every thought and it often becomes the leader of the flock. And, that’s the way we alcoholics are, every one of us was broken by the time we got here, but the shepherd healed us and now it’s our turn to “pass-it-on.” Make no mistake about it, “we will be held accountable.”
Priests and nuns probably carry more guilt than other alcoholics because we’re placed on a pedestal, we’re supposed to have all the answers, we’re supposed to have a hot-line-to-God and always know what to do. Being alcoholic was such a hard thing for me to admit because I thought being a nun should exempt me, but it didn’t. I became full of resentment, fear, remorse, guilt and shame just like other alcoholics.
There’s one more thing I want to say before I end this story. My mother died while I was in treatment, and she never knew that I was an alcoholic. Mother hated alcohol and alcoholism because she grew up with an alcoholic father and watched alcoholism destroy her brother. I left the treatment center, came home for mother’s wake and after I returned to treatment, they helped me write a letter to her and put everything in it that I should have said while she was alive. I carried that letter to mother’s grave and read it out loud and apologized to her for being such an ungrateful daughter. I was raised during the depression and my parents worked very hard. I was their oldest daughter, we always had plenty of good food to eat, nice clothes and a roof over our head. We were well taken care of and that’s how my parents expressed their love for us, but I didn’t understand that. I was not a good daughter and my parents had to constantly nag me to get any work done. I hated the kitchen and farm chores and I wasn’t a very productive daughter, but after I left the treatment center, I was able to make amends. My mother and father died four months apart and neither of them ever knew I was an alcoholic or that I was in a treatment center.
Today, I hear a lot of Fifth Steps, and the more I hear about other people’s parents, the better mine look. I am so grateful to have had them for parents.
In closing I want to say this simple prayer…”God, by the time each one of us reach the end of our lives, let us be the person that you intended for us to be when you created us.” The end.
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