“Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.” — Step 12. Alcoholics Anonymous
Why is it important to carry the message to those who still suffer? Better yet, why do so many of us, once we are no longer suffering from our alcoholism, do we have no real desire to reach out [beyond the meeting rooms] to those who are still caught-up in their mental, physical, social and spiritual disability? Why do we leave it to others to reach out to those so desperately in need? Why do we excuse ourselves by thinking thoughts like;
- ‘I’m not ready or qualified’
- ‘I’ll leave it to others who are much better at it than I could ever be’
- ‘There are enough people already helping others, they don’t need me’.
Have we forgotten how helpless and hopeless we were? Do we not recall how deep into the bottle we were? Can we still not differentiate between the true and the false? Have we forgotten what it was like to be totally immersed in that pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization each time we surfaced from our last debauch?
Abraham Lincoln once said, characteristically:
“I am sorry for the man who cannot feel the whip when it is laid to the other man’s back.”
Jesus wept tears of compassion at the graveside of a friend. He mourned over Jerusalem because as a city it had lost its appreciation for the things of the spirit. His great heart was sensitive to the needs of others.
Tears shed for self are tears of weakness, but tears of love shed for others are a sign of strength. I am not as sensitive as I ought to be until I am able to “weep over the erring one and lift up the fallen.”
Until I have learned the value of compassionately sharing the sorrow, distress, and misfortune of others, I cannot know real happiness.
Adapted from ‘The Secret of Happiness’ by Billy Graham