I heard that the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous can keep me from committing suicide, and the Twelve Traditions may well keep me from homicide, especially the Third Tradition.
Well, that’s a little dramatic, I thought.
But then I remembered how I was — am. With all my “issues,” I could have provoked even the most loving AA members to lose their patience with me. They never did – never have. The roots of the Third Tradition seem to have sunk deep producing serenity and empathy.
The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking
When the Third Tradition was a topic for a recent meeting, some of us admitted that had AA made any other requirements, we never would have made it. Others said they really didn’t know what we “desired” except to stop the pain.
The meeting’s topic on the Third Tradition led to a useful and lively discussion of remembering when we first came around the program. And the gratitude we have for those who smiled and said “Glad you are here; keep coming back” – especially when some of us were, as the saying goes, a hot mess.
How to get help, and to help, is tied up in that simple sentence that works for both: we have come to AA because we want to stop drinking. It’s a practical application of an ancient proverb:
Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be. ~Thomas à Kempis, Imitation of Christ, c.1420
The Third Tradition levels the ground that has heretofore tripped up those seeking sobriety: there are no hoops to jump through. It also keeps those in recovery balanced– reminding us we can’t give away what somebody isn’t ready to receive.
This tradition gives the hurting, hope, and the helpers the understanding to keep extending a hand of friendship to alcoholics who can’t get or stay sober. Our sobriety is only as secure as our desire to stop drinking, no matter how long or short our membership in AA has been.
Keep your sobriety first to make it last.