Another twist on success . . .

After writing the last post I was reminded of all the folks I have known in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous who didn’t meet with “success” on their first attempt at sobriety.  And many of them simply got up, brushed themselves off, and tried all over again.  Failure to stay clean and sober doesn’t mean that success will always elude you.  On the contrary, refusal to try again is all that prevents a person from meeting with success.   It is guaranteed unless you allow failure to define you.

One of my dearest friends in the rooms of AA “failed” to stay sober dozens of times.  In fact, she was in more than a dozen treatment centers, more than a few halfway houses; she has done a turn or two in the workhouse, and she has been in the hospital multiple times for brain surgery as the direct result of drinking.  And yet, she managed to eventually get sober.  And stay sober.  She sits proudly among us every week as a success story!  She is not a failure.  Not by any definition.

She is one of many I personally know who finally wanted sobriety more than they wanted the allure of alcohol and drugs.  For certain, the road is rocky for many as they try to get back to us.  But hands are always outstretched toward those who really “want what we have.”  I feel so grateful to be part of an organization that doesn’t shut the door on “failures.”  Not one of us sitting in the chairs that were saved for us is any better than those who stumble to stay seated.  The grace of God simply visits us one at a time, not simultaneously.

This kind of success is fresh in my mind because I attended a great recovery “round-up” over the weekend.  More than 7,000 people showed up to celebrate recovery, to listen to speakers who had words of wisdom about their own journeys, and to connect with friends they hadn’t seen for a spell.  What a glorious experience to sit in a room with thousands of others who truly understand what it takes to “get here.”  And more than a few hundred of them no doubt had to recommit to the journey more than once.  Of that I think we can be certain.

It was a room filled with success stories. And every story represented there paves the way for another soul who is searching for us.  Our assignment is simple.  Set up the chairs and make a space for every person who comes through the door.  If it’s their first time, great.  If it’s their 10th time, hurrah for coming once again.  Our doors are never, ever closed.  Success is a decision.  For all of us the most important one we will perhaps ever make.

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