Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Before and After (05/14/09)
TITLE: The Meeting
By Donna Heaney
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She sat in her car looking at the wooden door of the Reformed Church. She knew this church well. She had attended the meeting held upstairs. A failed attempt to fix her problem: the equivalent of using a tiny bandage to cover a very deep wound. Tonight was different. This night she would go downstairs, for a different meeting. The one hour that would forever change her life.
Her heart was pounding. Her mind was saying “I cannot do this. I do not need this. I can just drive away.” And yet, she prayed. “Please Lord help my feet to walk the steps into the building. I know I need this meeting. I know that You are with me Lord, just help me to get inside the door.” She opened the car door and began to walk forward. One foot in front of the other, into the building and into the large room, filled with people. She sat in the back row. Shaking.
The speaker stood in front, smiling, and welcomed everyone. She wondered, “How can he be smiling?” The group of about 80 people began to go around the room and introduce themselves. She thought, “I cannot do this. I cannot speak to these people. I just can’t.” And then she prayed, “Lord please keep me in this seat. I don’t care what you have to do, but please do not allow me to get up and leave.” And she stayed. And one by one the others said their names. She listened as they told about their day. She stared straight ahead at the words on the banners hanging from the ceiling in front of her. The letters all blurred together. Some people spoke words of hope, others shared their struggles. There was laughter. Looking back, she’d like to say that she was reassured, she was somehow calmed and relaxed but she was not. She shook. She prayed. And still, she stayed.
It was her turn. She took a deep breath and looked up at the banners. All she saw was one word – We. That one word. And she spoke. “My name is Donna and I am an alcoholic. This is my first AA meeting.” She said the words. They fit. And she became a part of the “we”. She heard a resounding “Welcome” from the group. And she truly felt welcome. These people knew how she felt. She was not alone.
Two women got up from their chairs and sat on either side of her. They held her hands as she trembled. They whispered words of comfort and support. She read the rest of that First Step on the banner. “We admitted that we were powerless over alcohol and our lives had become unmanageable.” People in the room continued to share about their experiences. They shared their joys and their pain. Their struggles were so very familiar that she had to ask herself “How do they know my story?” They knew because they too had traveled the downward spiral of alcoholism. They talked about “the solution”. They prayed together. She felt hope. She felt at home. There was a peacefulness starting to enter into her, despite the shaking.
One hour later, the two women embraced her. They told her “Keep coming back. You are right where you are supposed to be.” She truly believed that God had placed those women there for her. For that meeting and that moment in time. They gave her a book that would explain the disease they all shared and teach her about the solution. They gave her their telephone numbers. Other women came over and welcomed her. They offered their phone numbers, hugs and support.
The sky was dark and filled with stars when she walked out of the church. She held her head just a little higher; her steps were a little bit lighter. She was not the same woman who had walked through that door just a little more than an hour ago. She cried. For a long time. Just sitting in her car. Giant tears fell on her cheeks one after the other. They were tears of sadness and joy. Tears full of guilt, shame, remorse and pain. Tears of gratitude, hope, faith and a willingness to follow the Lord’s will. She inherently knew that she was not walking this journey alone and that if she allowed Him to, He would carry her through the days ahead. And He did. One day at a time.
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