Keep it simple.

I well remember when I first saw the slogan: keep it simple.  I couldn’t fathom what it actually meant.  My life was complicated.  And for good reason it was complicated.  I was in graduate school at the time and teaching at the University of Minnesota.  I was in and out of bad relationships and was sent to Al-Anon as a coping strategy for the most recent relationship.  Like so many of them before, including the 12 year marriage that had ended three years earlier, alcohol was seen as the culprit, someone else’s alcohol use, to be more specific.

No one had yet looked at mine, except for the psychiatrist a few years earlier.  He had been fairly certain I was alcoholic, that is until he called a number of my friends at my suggestion who told him they saw no evidence of it.  Of course, they drank just like I drank.  He backed off.

When I sat in that first meeting I was dumbstruck by the laughter, the genuine welcome I was given, and the warmth.  I doubted their sincerity, of course.  But it was real.  At the second meeting I was convinced of how real it was.  They had meant it when they said, “come back.”  They remembered my name.  They were interested in how I was doing.  Actually, I had no idea how I was doing or what I was supposed to be doing.  All I knew was that they were kind.  It was easy to sit there.  And I kept waiting for them to tell me what I had gone there to learn: the 10 easy steps to stop someone else’s drinking.

Now many decades later I am grateful Al-Anon never gave me what I thought I wanted.  If they had I would not have found it necessary to keep going and the decision to go has made all the difference in what I know to be a life well-lived.  Keeping it simple, that first slogan I read, is one of the most important tools in my toolbox.  I keep it simple by trusting that my Higher Power has every thing under control and my help isn’t needed.  I keep it simple by knowing that I will experience those people, places and situations that have been planned specifically for me.  I keep it simple by changing only what is mine to change and letting those who journey with me change themselves.  That last one I sometimes stumble over, yet, but progress is being made.  Perfection isn’t expected.

It’s a relief to know that we have all the time we need to find our way.  God never tires waiting for us.  Never.

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