Filling in the Blank

April 20, 2016

Without my church I would be ______.

 

How would you fill in that blank?

 

Twice a year I am blessed to serve as parliamentarian for a 12-step program. I'm there for the business meeting: elections, bylaws amendments, budget approvals, committee meetings. I don't fully understand the culture of 12-step programs, but I always leave these meetings impressed with the devotion of the meeting attendees.

 

Religious affiliation isn't important. They never talk about church. They never talk about attending worship. They do, frequently, talk about their relationship with God (or Higher Power, or HP). They do, frequently, reference the positive effect that God/HP has on their everyday life.

           

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference. (Thy will not mine is sometimes said afterward.)

 

This is known as the Serenity Prayer. It is attributed to Reinhold Niebuhr as early as 1934, but similar sentiments have existed since about 100 CE (at least according to Wikipedia). Alcoholics Anonymous started printing and using it in 1941. Many 12-step programs have also adopted it.

           

At the meeting I serve they say the Serenity Prayer.

 

A lot.

 

Before each business session. At the end of each business session. At the beginning of each committee meeting. At the end of each committee meeting. At the beginning of each workshop. At the end of each workshop. And anytime anyone is feeling stressed and anxious. It does bring serenity. It focuses their minds on their recovery, not the outside things that might currently be intruding.

 

Imagine saying the Lord's Prayer 15 times a day.

 

Seriously. Imagine saying the Lord's Prayer 15 times a day.

 

What would that do to your focus? How would that ground you for whatever decision you are about to make? How would that change your interactions with other people? 

 

I also hear, over and over again: If it weren't for this group I would be ____.

 

Dead, fat, homeless, alone, drunk, broke. 

 

During bad economic times they have watched donations increase. People were giving up their last few pennies to support the group that has been their life saver. People put their treasure where their heart is.

 

Every time I attend this meeting, I leave wondering how we can get our church members to have the same public passion for God/HP.

 

And this time I found myself pondering the question:

 

Without my church I would be ______.

 

How would you fill in that blank? 

 

- Ann Warner

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