Gladly Rendered

by Claire A.

Subconsciously I think I have always known that service makes me feel good. Putting aside my own will briefly to help someone else, even if I was grouchy about it at the beginning, always wound up feeling good. It took coming into A.A. to make me become intentional about it—to seek service.

One of my first commitments was coffee-making. This was really difficult: there was a certain way to do it, a huge canister coffeemaker that I didn’t know how to use, but most difficult of all, lots of opinions about how it should be done. To be truthful the good feeling of being helpful was lost in my fear of doing it wrong. Thankfully, I kept doing it, and the opinions died down. Then I started to feel annoyed that no one was thanking me. Ha!

One of my first commitments was coffee-making

photo credits available on request to thepoint@aasfmarin.org

What really helped me most at that moment was remembering why I was there: to help alcoholics. I had no way of knowing whether someone might walk in off the street and feel more welcome because there was fresh coffee made. I had to have faith. And it was an important lesson to me, to just show up and let God do the heavy lifting. This is a lesson I need right now in my life. 

My husband’s father died about two months ago. He was a loving father and grandfather, and I loved him very much. I miss him, and I anticipate that this holiday season will be very difficult without him. His passing leaves a large hole in the extended family that seems to be getting filled up with a lot of family anxiety and anger. It’s a bit scary right now, not knowing how things will work out. And, of course, my husband is grieving the loss of his father, which is a process. The bottom line is there are a lot of big things happening around the family right now, over which I have zero control. 

It’s a good time to remember service. There are endless ways to be helpful, both in program and out. I can take a commitment, but I can also reach out at the end of a meeting and say hello to a newcomer. In a bigger way, though, I can be of service in my day. Being of service means I change my attitude from looking for what I can get to looking for what I can give. Looking at what I can give helps me to connect with others by thinking about how I might be able to help them.

Even a small, kind action helps

One of the great things about service is that it requires action. I can get so stuck in inaction! I’ll say to myself, oh, I’ll do it later. Then later comes, and I’m like, oh, I feel so tired, I really need a nap, and then I’ll get up from a nap, and I’ll be like: what happened to the day? It’s so predictable.

When I focus on what I can do for others, though, it just nudges me that little bit to get going. When I get going, I can get my stuff done and be of service. At the end of those days, I feel good. It doesn’t take a huge project to be of service. Even a small, kind action helps. And if it is a big project then often a small action, taken in faith that God is there to guide me, can be a great first step.

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