One of the most common expressions in AA is, "keep it simple.” I never used to question what that meant, but I think I get it now. Keeping life simple means cutting out what is not necessary. The spiritual disciplines book I am studying defines it as “taming our desire for possessions.” Which for me, means abstinence from shopping as well. So here I am trying to work through two spiritual disciplines as they seem go hand in hand. Probably why the study is set up like it is.
I think the definition is much more than that though. I get it, I need to abstain from stuff. I need nothing, I have plenty. I'm finding this out as I am continually purging things in this house. Those glittery placemats I only used for New Year's Eve? Gone! I don’t have a party anymore anyway, so off they go. That drawer crammed full of tank tops I rarely wear? Bye! I kept the three I do wear, gained a whole drawer and now I have to try not to fill it back up. Get the idea here?
"And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus." - Philippians 4:19
Now for the simple part that AA is talking about. To me, it means to quiet down. Stay away from situations, places, or friends that make staying sober complicated. Most of the time I have this handled pretty well, but I do need to mentally prepare. That is a key player in my recovery game.
Perfect example for you from last week. We were on Mackinac Island for a long weekend attending a convention. We had a beautiful room overlooking the water and also the expansive front porch of the Grand Hotel below me. I could see the cocktail party we were about to attend on the porch was already in full swing. I started to focus on the bar and that seemingly everyone had a drink in hand. I felt my mind inviting me to a pity party that reminded me I couldn't drink and I quickly intercepted with some simple thinking. I told myself the following:
1. You cannot drink - if you ever start again you will not stop.
2. You do not need alcohol to socialize, you have a lot of good friends down there.
3. It is a beautiful summer night for a porch party. Go enjoy the view.
4. I like my dress and my shoes.
5. I see cheese on the appetizer table, I love cheese!
While those reasons might seem petty to you, they make a lot of sense to me. Stating simple facts about the night ahead keeps me on the course. If I didn't, I would go to the party with a chip on my shoulder. By reminding myself of those simple facts, I walked in armed with a positive attitude ready to enjoy the evening. I did just that too! The cocktail hour flew, it was fun, and before I knew it we were heading in for dinner.
I try to do that before any event containing alcohol, if it all possible. It’s the times I am caught off guard that are hard to deal with. Mostly because I don’t set my mind around the situation and can't get back to the simple facts.
We could do this for so many other things when we want to keep it simple.
Food drama - don’t keep things that tempt you in the house.
Purging your house - overwhelming! Just do one small space a day.
Impulse buying - leave it at the store for 24 hours and tell yourself you can go back for it.
My walk with God - doing the next right thing always works in my favor.
Those things above all require abstinence and/or simplicity. Easy? No, but combine abstinence and simplicity and ask God to help you. When you do this, you have quite the arsenal for the attacks that tell you to just give in to whatever your desire is.
I mentioned we were on the island last weekend. Talk about simple! I love it there, always have. Getting around by bike with no cars, heavenly. I would crack our window at night so I could wake up to the horses clopping on the street below. Serenity! I was there 3 days until I caved in to the fudge. I couldn't help myself! How do you prepare to abstain from sugar when the smell of fudge is coming out of your pores?
On our first night, there was a fudge delivery to our room. I gave it my friend for safekeeping until we left. (So proud of me.) Saturday we went into a fudge shop, and I only went into one. Had a few samples and of course bought some (for the children.)
Then we were called home early because our son and daughter-in-law had gone into premature labor and we didn't want to be stuck on the island if we needed to get home. We ran for the 9:00 pm ferry and made a late night drive home with coffee, and fudge. Oh well - back on track 100% the next day keeping my options simple to continue to kick this sugar addiction to the curb. I’ve also got a few friends on board with sugar abstinence and it helps knowing someone else is doing this with me. Kind of like AA and not drinking. Strength in numbers!
Keeping my day simple is really just taking each one as it comes. I'm not filling my day with wasteful moments. I have been babysitting Otto and Landon when needed. Making some meals for them, etc. Focusing on what I can do with my time to benefit others seems to make what could be a hectic day a peaceful day. I also find time to hang out with just me. That also benefits others. When I find myself at the crossroad of addiction and grace, I always try to stay on the grace path. It works for me as long as I don’t go fudge sampling!
P.S. Still waiting on cousin #3.
Peace on your weekend,