It’s Grateful Heart Monday, a time always dedicated to a single piece of gratitude from my life, which for today is for Jeremiah S., a sponsee who helped me to see that life shouldn’t be so black and white, especially when it comes to doing the 12 Steps.
I’ve sponsored in some fashion probably close to 100 individuals over the years since coming into the world of 12 Step recovery from addiction. I was taught how to do the steps by a woman named Lorraine many years ago and have ever since continued to teach this way to each of those individuals who’ve asked me to sponsor them. Unfortunately, I’ve also been a little too rigid in that process and have a number of times watched as sponsees moved on to other sponsors because of it. But then along came Jeremiah who walked into my life in somewhat of a strange way.
I had been asked by a friend if I was open to sponsoring someone at one point and said I really wasn’t because I had a full plate, but not too long after that, I had an opening because one of my sponsees went back out and decided that sobriety wasn’t for them. On a random evening shortly after that, I opted to go see a friend’s musical performance at a restaurant not too far from where I live. There, as I sat waiting to hear him play, I was introduced to a guy who too was also there to listen to the performance. He introduced himself as Jeremiah and somehow the topic of sobriety came up while we chatted. I came to learn he was actually looking for a sponsor and when I told him I was open to it, I found out that he was actually the one my other friend had been wondering if I had been open to sponsoring. I kind of saw this as God working in mysterious ways like God always seems to do in my life so I began the path of sponsoring Jeremiah pretty much from that moment forward.
One thing I came to learn pretty quickly about Jeremiah is that my style of sponsoring at times overwhelmed him, especially any time I attempted to push him through a piece of the 12 Step work. But, instead of totally quitting the step work, or ever moving on to someone else to help him, Jeremiah stuck by my side and continued to trudge through the steps, albeit at a pace that was much slower than my ego was used to. Upon reaching the 4th Step, which is the step I like to say separates those who really want recovery and those who don’t, I watched as Jeremiah hit a wall, like so many individuals I’ve sponsored do.
The 4th Step is one where a recovering individual takes a hard look in the mirror and finally sees all the damage they caused themselves and others from their life of addiction. Many don’t ever make it past this step and as month after month began to pass with Jeremiah taking a hard pause on this step, I thought that maybe it’d be best to not be his sponsor and move on to someone else who I thought would be push themselves more in the step work. I couldn’t even see my ego in that initially, but thankfully Jeremiah helped me to see it by finding a way to communicate it to me in a way I understood.
Over the course of just under a year, Jeremiah showed me that maybe I needed to become a little more flexible in the way I sponsor. He never stopped calling me every day, rarely missing one, consistently checking in, and slowly but surely, conquering little by little that Mt. Everest of a 4th Step. I’m thankful to say he’s now fully past it and has moved quickly beyond by both finishing the 5th and 6th step work. As he and I stand at the 7th step together now, I realize I’ve become quite proud of Jeremiah and thankful as well, for teaching me something with the 12 Step work that I never believed could happen. That no matter how much time one takes on any of the steps, so long as they continue to trudge forward sober, one day at a time, that it’s important to keep believing in them and their work, which I’m most certainly glad I did when it comes to Jeremiah. I see him so differently now from when I first met him and am blessed to see how dedicated he is to a number of things that includes his girlfriend, his job, his yoga, and of course his sobriety and recovery.
I don’t think I can be any prouder of him than I am and I’m truly grateful for how the student became a teacher to help me learn an extremely valuable lesson, one I’m not sure anyone else could have taught me. Maybe God knew that, so, thank you Jeremiah for coming into my life, for believing in me as your sponsor, and for proving that the path to recovery may not be so black and white.
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson