Making a Difference

park sunriseWhen people walk into 12-Step meetings for the first time, they are sometimes puzzled.  They came looking for specific directions to deal with their problem and what they find is a group of people sitting around talking.  Taking turns talking.   Gradually, they learn that this particular form of talking is known as sharing, and that sharing is how we tell each other what worked for us without insisting it will work for you.  As a man who had talked in front of people for most of my professional life, I came into 12-Step meetings talking.  Once I began regularly attending meetings, I’d think about my shares in advance … after all, I wanted to sound good.  Then my sponsor told me … Don’t plan your shares, have an idea where you’re going and see where it goes.   Actually, he said, Turn it over to God.  It works.  By speaking freely in meetings, I often discover things about myself and offer useful suggestions to myself.

Of course, when I started blogging, it created a potential problem, since I often blog about subjects that are chosen as topics in meetings.  In order to follow my sponsor’s advice, I’ve carefully avoided using excerpts from my posts in meetings.  However, I have no reservations about using a topic I hear at a meeting as the topic for a post.  The topic this week at my Thursday Night Men’s Meeting was a good one, Making a Difference.   Most everyone who shared talked about wanting to make a difference in the lives of others, particularly their loved ones.  Some shared successes and some frustrations.  It reminded me of a book that’s resided, unread, on my bookshelf for years, How to Change Anybody by David J. Lieberman, Ph.D.  I thought, if only, because what I’ve come to believe is that we can’t change anyone that isn’t ready to change.

Every week, when I volunteer at the local 12-Step office, I take calls from people struggling with the addictions of their loved ones.   They are often frantic, practically demanding answers and, although I am not always a patient man, I am very patient with them.  I listen.   I tell them about how the program works and how it’s helped many like them.  I direct them to meetings and sometimes they become impatient … they want to know what to do right now.  I tell them that at meetings, they will talk to people who’ve been through the same ordeal and can tell them what worked and what didn’t.  I tell them they will find a solution that works for them.   I never know whether they will try it or not.   But every once in a while, someone comes up to me at a meeting after hearing me say my name.   Are you the Bud I talked to on the phone?   I would never have gone to a meeting if I  hadn’t talked to you, they say.  Working the program has changed my life.  Thank you for being so patient.

I believe that we can’t make a difference in the life of anyone who isn’t ready to be different.  But by being there when they are ready, we are Making a Difference.  It sometimes takes patience.   Now excuse me … I think I’ll go back and read, How to Change Anybody.

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2 Comments on “Making a Difference”

  1. cherperz Says:

    I admire your dedication to help others. I am sure you do make a huge difference when someone is inspired to try the program because of your patience and understanding.

  2. territerri Says:

    It’s got to take someone special to be on your end of that phone call. After all, this is a world where we want solutions right NOW. Instant gratification is what we’re accustomed to. I know I’m not the kind of person who is good at sitting back and seeing the big picture, waiting for things to play out. But you clearly have some gifts that make you just the right person for this job.

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