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Focus on the Message

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When I first came to OA, I was a very complicated person (by my own doing) who responded to uncertainty, frustration, resentment, and fear by overeating.

At my very first meeting, however, the OA message was delivered right on target, with two of the four members present sharing succinctly how they got over compulsive overeating. By their visible appearance, all of them seemed to have done it. Even though their stories were different, the message was still pure: how they used the Tools and Steps to change their lives.

My ego can so easily get me off track, sharing my non-program accomplishments and disappointments in life. If I focus on that, I’m inevitably led back to the food. It’s nothing more than a “drunkalogue in reverse”—unless I’m also sharing succinctly the process by which I’ve gained relief, which is developing faith in a Higher Power to provide me with necessary guidance and providing service to others. I can only learn this process and keep this miracle by showing up at a meeting. At first, I went to meetings to learn how others gained results, so I heard how others are using the Steps to tackle the challenges of life. Later, I went to share my miracle.

But the focus isn’t solely on carrying the message to someone who has just walked into our rooms. Many amongst us suffer a long time after achieving physical abstinence and attempt to hide frustration by exhibiting false cheerfulness. God forbid we should admit such foibles to the group. When we do, though, someone shares something that is spot-on: “Yes, I too know what it is like to suffer both before and after coming to these rooms.” Because our groups do focus on carrying this miraculous message, we provide a venue for anyone to get well without excuse for argumentation or denial over issues that are not OA.

I have Tools and Steps today to resolve all my personal dilemmas. I gained that ability by listening to others share about how they work the Steps, not abstract advice. While abstract advice can be shared outside OA rooms, it should not be made a meeting topic, because a strong risk exists that someone still suffering would not identify and might flee before the miracle happens.

— Edited and reprinted from OA Today newsletter, St. Louis Bi-State Intergroup, May 2017

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