Having known and loved several alcoholics over the years, I have on occasion attended AA meetings in order to understand and empathize with those suffering. Although I don’t drink, everything I heard was applicable. I felt connected.
Everyone had a place. Someone ordinary opened the meeting. A Preamble was read which stated the mission of AA, and someone else read an introduction to how it works giving the core of the AA program. Everyone is reminded that there is anonymity. What is said in the meeting stays in the meeting. There are twelve steps, all of which apply to my life before I was a Christian and what my life is now learning to walk one-day-at-a-time in faith. A speaker meeting has someone give their testimony on how working the AA program helped them stop drinking. In other meetings, a topic is chosen and people enter into discussion. In a “big book” meeting, the focus is on the Alcoholics Anonymous book, and attendees read and discuss a section. A “step study” focuses on discussing one of the twelve steps. I listened carefully and learned and gained hope from the experience they shared as recovering alcoholics and those still striving for sobriety. The meeting ended with people joining hands and praying. No one leaves without the offer of a list of telephone numbers for people willing to help in time of crisis or literature that will inspire and give hope through daily struggles.
This is what I loved about AA:
An open greeting to everyone. Warmth and welcome were offered to all. A feeling of safe haven for those down deep in disease and desperate for hope.
A preamble and explanation of what AA is and what it has to offer.
Meetings with meat: personal testimonies that gave hope, topical studies directed at common struggles; study of the BIG BOOK, study of steps to recovery.
An emphasis on sharing personal experience and hope.
A safe place to be completely honest about personal struggles and the opportunity to confess without condemnation. “Hi. My name is Francine and I’m a sinner.”
A list of phone numbers of supportive friends before walk you out the door.
Literature to inspire you between meetings.
Holding hands and praying together.
You know what? AA reminded me of what a church can and should be.