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Sharing from the Heart

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I vividly remember my first OA meeting, where people greeted me at the door, asked if I was new, and introduced me to others as they arrived. I had been to many commercial weight-loss places, so I was used to initial fanfare, but there was something different here. In addition to extending their hands, OA members extended their hearts. Once the meeting got underway, people shared their problems—my problems—but also talked about how they got through without using food to numb out. I was amazed. It truly was the language of the heart.

That was many years ago. Recently I had the opportunity to again experience the welcoming hand and heart of OA as my husband and I traveled across the country in our motor home, visiting many meetings. There were different faces and different names, and the members were at different places in their recovery, using different food plans, but the common ground is always a language of love and acceptance.

I have an opportunity to share this language whenever a newcomer walks into a meeting. I am responsible to extend my heart and hand and have done so many, many times in my twenty-two years of meetings. I recall a very heavy woman who walked into her first meeting and sat close to the door, looking bewildered. I shared with her after the meeting that I had been obese when I first came to OA She didn’t believe me! I had to email her a ‘before’ picture of myself! That was the beginning of a beautiful sponsor-sponsee relationship, now going on sixteen years. She also extends her hand and heart to all who share our compulsion.

Sometimes that person isn’t quite here yet. While I honor our cherished Tradition of anonymity, I also remember that OA is not a secret society. How will people find us if I don’t share? So I often share from my heart to people I meet, about how this Fellowship has helped me. Maybe they’ll check us out right away or maybe not for a while, but unless I speak up, they may never have a chance!

This responsibility is at the core of our Twelfth Step. I ask God for his will for me, and then practice the Principles of the program in all my affairs. I might be the only Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous “book” that people see. Will they want to check us out by what they see in me? I’ll keep extending my hand and my heart, secure in the knowledge that I am an attraction to our program.

— Gerri H., Titusville, Florida USA

Editor’s Note: OA’s 2016 Strategic Plan includes a focus on the Responsibility Pledge. Region chairs and members of the Board of Trustees are contributing one article per issue on this theme.

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