Grandmas and Sponsors

The picture above is of the handwritten recipe that my grandma gave me when I got married. My Grandma: bread bakin’, cow callin’, and wood stokin’ pioneer woman. I had a fierce love for her and while she wasn’t anyone’s typical idea of a granny, she walked a path that my bare feet delighted in.

While my happy feet were following grandma, my heart wasn’t choosing the path. I was just following in her steps. It wasn’t until I was in my 50s that I realized I must decide for myself how to live… even whether to live. I was lost and when I looked up… I was at that jumping-off place of page 152 in the Big Book.

It took me decades to recognize that I had been on the wrong path. I share Grandma’s strength of convictions, her fierce determination and her love of the outdoors, but not her ways. What worked in her homesteading farmwife lifestyle is not ever what could work for me. I’ve had to grab my AA tools, along with my hatchet and matches and find my own ways.

Today I have fascinating and wise friends that share my experience, my hope, and my quest. With those wild and restless people, I walk the path of recovery, finding a sane way of living. We’re on the oft-mentioned road to a ‘happy destiny’ as found on page 164 of the Big Book.

One of the most important decisions we make in recovery is choosing our sponsor, or someone to lead us in the ways of the program. Once in the fellowship of AA, I looked at the people around the tables, hoping for a trusted friend, someone that I could follow — a sponsor. Unfortunately, I had no idea of the first principle regarding a sponsor.

You cannot transmit something you haven’t got. ~ Alcoholic Anonymous, p 164

Unwittingly, I picked someone who would soon drop me. I had a bad ‘picker’ in those early days. If I had observed how she treated her daughter, how she talked about her co-workers or the inconsistencies between her shares and her relationships… but I didn’t. I had no clue. It was a lot like my experience of following Grandma.

Just following someone I love dearly, while comfortable, has never worked for me. Of course, my past experiment in cutting my own path wasn’t wise, either. Self-will and over-indulgence got me to the tables of this program, though.

I didn’t know what I needed, but God knew I needed recovery and specifically, the 12 Steps program, not just the fellowship. It was my own thinking that was imprisoning me.

They’ve changed my life. Having a spiritual awakening is the result we can expect from properly doing the 12 Steps. People who are spiritual are helping others and leading interesting lives. They radiate a life-verve that is attractive.

I had no clue how to find a sponsor. When picking a sponsor there’s one important factor. If you want what the other person has, their perspective, their wisdom, their peace, then you’ve found someone who could be a good fit for you. If they’re just ‘available’ and handy, that’s not going to be the path you want to set your toes onto. Most likely it will go in circles or dead-end.

Tips for picking a sponsor or a trusted friend is the topic of the next post. I hope you can find or already have found a person who is walking the path that you intend to take.