Step 3: What’s Your Keystone?

Looking closely at this arch, you can see there is no mortar. I took this picture in Glendalough, Ireland at a religious settlement founded by St Kevin in the 6th century.

My eye was drawn to the chunk missing in the middle. The stones from the entire arch are held together by the pressure exerted on that middle stone. If the stone was not the exact shape necessary, all the stones would collapse into rubble. This middle stone is called a Keystone.

What is the keystone of your life? I can tell you what mine was: self. I was living life like it was Heidi’s world. The following question was my predominant quest.

What can I do to make sure today goes according to my plan?  Just asking this question locked me into a life according to Heidi. I started every day with the same approach. As my drinking got worse, and I made worse decisions, I started drinking to escape the mess my life had become. It was an inevitable cycle of collapse. I was eventually sitting in the self-made rubble of my life.

My relationship with God was limited to an intellectual pursuit of sorts. The more I knew, the more righteous I felt. Give me a problem, I can give you the verse and bingo! I feel powerful. Sick. I know. But it’s the process that led me to believe I should be the keystone. I knew a lot. I earned it.

So I went to God with my sincere confidence of my power and asked for things I wanted. I told Him what was wrong with everything in my life, and I was such a good ‘disciple’ that I expected He would want to help me. It didn’t stop there. I went to Him with what I saw were the obvious needs of others. I prayed that He would give this one health, that one courage and another one a different job. I never openly bargained with God, because I felt that was wrong, but I certainly expected the same results. If I do this, then You should do that was implied. I was telling Him how to solve the problems that obviously needed solving. I felt like a part of the solution for everyone I knew. It was a heady experience. I called myself a prayer warrior. I certainly spent enough time daily in prayer to earn my fancy title.

The pressure of being the keystone to my own life eventually began to crack me. I was crumbling just as surely as the keystone in the picture, and soon my self-directed life was in a rubble. I could not find a way to mortar the pieces back together. In fact, by the time I got to AA, I hardly cared anymore. Initially, AA was just another intellectual attempt at diagnosing the ‘problems’ of my life. If it was all due to the drinking, then maybe I could excuse it. I didn’t really expect life to get better. 

He is the Principal; we are His agents. He is the Father, and we are His children. Most good ideas are simple, and this concept was the keystone of the new and triumphant arch through which we passed to freedom. When we sincerely took such a position, all sorts of remarkable things followed. ~ Alcoholics Anonymous, p 62

PS: Remarkable, yes. I have gratitude for the new and triumphant arch through which I’m passing on my journey to freedom from self. I’m not the one keeping it all together any longer. It has to be God. It’s not me.

If you’re not afraid to ask the hard questions, try this:

Not So Scary Worksheet of Step 3