The more a diamond is cut, the more it sparkles.
There is something of value to be found even in the worst of things. Consider the oyster. When a grain of sand penetrates an oyster's shell, it irritates the oyster, making it uncomfortable. The oyster relieves the pain by coating the sand with a soothing liquid. When this liquid hardens, a pearl is formed. The very process that healed the oyster creates a precious jewel for others to cherish and admire.
The way in which we deal with our own frustrations - painful though they may be - can make a difference. Pearls can be formed from our experiences, making us wiser and stronger, or grains of sand - anger, bitterness, resentment--can remain imbedded inside us. The choice is ours.
How can I turn my irritations into pearls today?
Safeguarding The Traditions
When I came into Al-anon over 13 years ago, I was fortunate to find a sponsor that believed in following the Traditions. She was willing to stand up for Al-anon and our Traditions, even at personal cost. From her I learned how important each one was. It bothers me that many members feel it’s okay to forget the Traditions. It seems trendy to use group autonomy to justify using the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous in meetings, changing the wording of the Steps when reading them, or ignoring the guidelines in the Al-Anon/Alateen Service Manual.
When I started in Al-Anon, I was pretty sick. Like many people, I thought I knew what was best for the alcoholic in my life and for Al-Anon. As I learned to practice keeping my hands off the alcoholic, I also learned it wasn’t my place to change the program. I believe if it works, don’t fix it. Someone might argue, “It doesn’t matter if I change a word in the Steps,” but I say it does!
Part of recovery, I believe, is accepting what is best for Al-anon, rather than what I personally want. As I continue to grow in the program, I see the wisdom in following the Traditions. I also see why it is important to stand up for them and follow proper procedure if I want to see one of them changed. It would take written consent of three-quarters of the Al-Anon groups to change any part of the Steps, Traditions, or Concepts. That is how important it is!
I found that when I want to violate or change a Tradition or Step, I need to look at my motives. Rather than try to force my will on others, I work on that issue within myself. I keep in mind the impact my actions might have on others and on Al-Anon as a whole. For instance, I may think that no one will be hurt if I withhold my support from an Al-Anon information service. If everyone has the same opinion, how would an AIS, area, district, or the WSO survive? That would definitely affect Al-Anon as a whole, and in some areas it already does.
Al-Anon was there for me when I needed it. I could begin to recover because members safeguarded the Traditions. Now it is my turn to do the same, so those who follow will have a healthy program of recovery when they need it.
Kait S., Oregon July, 2000
Reprinted with permission of The Forum, Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., Virginia Beach, VA.
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