I was told that the key to happiness in sobriety was helping others. The way I understood that statement was this: As soon as I discharged from BRC Recovery I was going to get at least 8 men to sponsor and all of them were going to remain sober because of me.
I could not have been more wrong! I was sober for more than a year before another man asked me to take him through the 12 steps. At first I despaired over the fact that no one was approaching me to get some of what I had. I could not figure out what I was doing wrong. I went to my sponsor and he told me that God would put the right person in my path at the right time. I was just expected to show up.
So, that’s just what I did. I showed up to my home group every week. I chaired meetings at that home group, I made coffee and I greeted people at the door. When I was asked to join a panel at a treatment center for adolescents in south Austin, I said, “yes”. For more than a year on Tuesday nights I went to that treatment facility and carried a message of hope…one that had been given to me freely.
Sometime during that year my perspective on sponsorship began to change. I began to understand that a sponsor is not responsible for another man’s sobriety – that was up to the man and God. My responsibility was to take the man through the 12 steps, to the best of my ability, so that he could get connected to a Power greater than himself, and he, in turn, could help still others on the path to sobriety. At a time in my life when I thought I could not handle any more on my plate, that is when men began to ask me to take them through the 12 steps. My God certainly has a sense of humor.
The men I currently sponsor have varying lengths of sobriety from 18 months to 90 days. I enjoy working with each and every one of them, and they all teach me something new on a weekly basis. They keep me honest and they keep me in touch with my 1st step. When I pray for patience, one of them tries mine. When I pray for selflessness, one of them calls me during The Walking Dead. When I pray for an opportunity to help, one of them wants to meet on a planned “veg-out” day. And when I am full of self-pity and fear, they all call me that day with situations much worse than the one I am facing. That, in a nutshell, is the joy of sponsorship.