My parents provided a wholesome atmosphere for my upbringing, offered me a good education, and took me to their church. But their concept of a fearsome, revengeful God was a threat to me, and I tried to stay far away from Him and His believers. Yet the need for the approval of my family and friends was in conflict with my disbelief. Unable to live up i" my parents’ teaching, I ran and ran, denying myself a belief in God.
When I came into A.A. in 1955, I was only thirty-one. “You are too young. You haven’t drunk enough. You haven’t suffered enough,” some members said. I still had my family (though it was a second one), a job, and a bank account, and I was buying a home. All the same, I had hit a high bottom, a low bottom, and all the bottoms in between. So I attended A.A. meetings, and for five months I awaited the striking of a thunderbolt that would transform this young man into a responsible, recovered alcoholic. My vision, however, was limited; my hearing, dulled. THE disappointment of not experiencing a great spiritual reawakening caused me to relax my efforts to recover; but after each bout with the bottle, I always returned to A.A.
I had four good sponsors. One was my spiritual adviser, with whom I felt little empathy. Each time he stood at the podium, he spoke of God as he understood Him. While I resented the references and listened against my will, one day he struck a responding chord. He said, “When you have used up all resources of family, friends, doctors, and ministers, there is still one source of help. It is one that never fails and never gives up, and is always available and willing.”
These words returned to me one morning, at the end of a three- week binge in a hotel room. I was acutely aware of the shambles my life had become. Now my second marriage was on the rocks, and the children were being hurt. That morning, I was able to be honest. I knew I had failed as a father, husband, and son. I had failed at school and in the service and had lost every job or business I had tried. Neither religion, the medical profession, nor A.A. had succeeded with me. I felt completely defeated. Then I remembered some of the words of my sponsor: “When all else has failed, grab a rope and hang on. Ask God for strength to stay sober for one day.”
I went into the filthy bathroom and got down on my knees. “God, teach me to pray,” I begged. I remained there a long time, and when I arose and left the room, I knew I never had to drink again. I came to believe, that day, that God would help me maintain my sobriety. Since then, I’ve come to believe that He will help me with any problem.
During the years since my last drink, I haven’t encountered as many problems as before. As I grow more capable of understanding the things that have happened to me, I don’t think it was on that morning in the hotel that I found God. I think He had been within me at all times, just as He is in all people, and I uncovered Him by clearing away the wreckage of my past, as the Big Book recommends.