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All I’m Asked to Do

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Recently, for my recovery, I’ve been reading from the Big Book each day, writing about it, and sharing my writing with my sponsor. Today’s reading was just two sentences: “Ask [God] in your morning meditation what can you do each day for the man who is still sick. The answers will come, if your own house is in order.” (Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., p. 164).

I sat with those sentences in my head for a while and I began to write. What occurs to me are several things: Who is “the man who is still sick” and what is meant by my “own house is in order”?

  1. I am the man who is still sick. Today, I may be recovered from my “seemingly hopeless state of mind and body” (p. xiii), but I am still a compulsive overeater and always will be.
  2. “The man who is still sick” also includes everyone in OA who shares my problem. It includes men and women in recovery, newcomers, and those in relapse.
  3. It also means all those outside OA who also share my compulsion: people who have never heard of OA and those who have left and not come back.
  4. “The answers will come” only if my own house is in order. If I’m not abstinent, I’m no help to anyone, no matter how much I think I might be.
  5. Being abstinent—doing whatever it takes to be abstinent myself today— is the greatest service I can give to the man who is still sick.
  6. Listen. Listen to God.
  7. Listen. Listen to the man who is still sick. Do not try to fix them, just listen.
  8. Share my experience, strength, and hope. Share what it was like, what happened, and what it is like now— no more, no less. That is all that is asked or expected of me. That is what I am asked to do.
  9. God does the rest. If the other person is willing to listen and take action themselves, that is between them and their Higher Power, not me.

— Rob H.

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