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Pass It On

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My first few years in OA, I was working the Twelve Step program my own way. It didn’t work. I heard the suggestion to get a sponsor, so I did—several times— but I never bothered to talk to them. After four of the most painful years of my existence, having one foot in the Fellowship and the other pointing outward, I reached out to a woman who had what I was desperate for—love, gratitude, joy in fellowship, and God. I had no understanding of what she was offering, I just knew beyond doubt it was far better than what I had.

Fear of being alone had driven me further and further into my disease. It was through my sponsor’s strong direction and example that I saw I was not alone and never had to be. She brought me gifts that have again and again broken through the baffling symptoms my disease exhibits: fear, isolation, and self-centeredness. I’d admitted I was willing to go to any length to recover; my sponsor often had to remind me of this commitment when I balked at her directions. How would it help me to make my flatmate a cup of tea when I had a resentment against her that choked me? But do it I did.

The first instant someone else asked me to sponsor them, I ran back to my sponsor asking, “How can I do this?”

Her loving response came: “I will sponsor you into sponsoring someone else. You are not alone.”

Again I saw and felt how this wonderful Tool of our program works against the clutches of our debilitating illness. Working with others is taking Step One and Step Twelve and rolling them into my own experience, strength, and hope. From “We admitted,” to “carrying the message to those who still suffer,” my own experience of recovery comes through. I do not have to know everything, nor do I have to be there when I am unable. God is the power that will take care of all these things for me and for anyone I sponsor.

Today, I understand the role of a sponsor: to take another person through the Steps and introduce them to a Power greater than themselves—as was done for me by way of the Big Book. Sponsorship is a Tool passed down through the ages, from the kitchen of Bill W. through his old drinking buddy, Ebby, and from there to Dr. Bob. Here we stand today, doing what has worked for millions of addicts: sharing how we got abstinent, one day at a time, through the Twelve Steps and with the God of our understanding in our hearts.

May the blessings and joy of our beautiful Fellowship be yours today through giving and receiving sponsorship. It works if we work it, and work it we must, or else we die alone.

— Edited and reprinted from Looking Up newsletter, Tri-County Intergroup, February 2016

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