The Tale of the Drowning Man:
A fellow was stuck on his rooftop in a flood. He was praying to God for help. Soon a man in a rowboat came by and the fellow shouted to the man on the roof, “Jump in, I can save you.” The stranded fellow shouted back, “No, it’s OK, I’m praying to God, and he will save me. So, the rowboat went on.
Then a motorboat came by. “The fellow in the motorboat shouted, “Jump in, I can save you.” The stranded man said to this, “No thanks, I’m praying to God, and he is going to save me. I have faith. “So, the motorboat went on.
Then a helicopter came by, and the pilot shouted, “Grab this rope, and I will lift you to safety.” The stranded man again replied, “No thanks, I’m praying to God, and he will save me. I have faith. “So, the helicopter reluctantly flew away.
Soon the water rose above the rooftop and the man drowned. He went to Heaven. He finally got to discuss this whole situation with God, at which point he exclaimed, “I had faith in you, but you didn’t save me; you let me drown. I don’t understand why!” To this God replied, “I sent you a rowboat, motorboat, and helicopter; what more did you expect?”
We deeply related to the story above. During our abusive years we found ourselves in desperation, praying to the God of the universe to stop the cycle: to change the trajectory of our lives. These repeated prayers produced nil.
We are not sure what we expected. Did we think this mystical being would swoop down from the heavens and knock the drink out of our hands? Would it turn into human form and personally rehabilitate us, or would the force vape throughout and remove all the alcohol from earthly existence? We didn’t know how; we just begged for drastic adjustment.
It turns out that we had been equipped with all we needed since the rotation began. The change agent was right in front of us. Like the man in the boat, God has provided a solution through people and a program of recovery that has worked for millions.
Let’s take a look at His boats and helicopters:
For us, God put people in our inner circle who whispered words of worry as our drinking spiraled toward destructiveness and obvious danger. They were the first helpers we rejected. In our selfish state, we thought their motives were selfish. That is what we knew, so that is what we saw. We didn't realize that it was for our benefit. We couldn't comprehend their fear.
We shrugged off their suggestions, unable to comprehend their concern. These were the first put in our path. They were the seed throwers whose words took root later in our journey.
In our case, the next life raft came in the form of medical professionals who, through our lies, saw the truth of the havoc we were wreaking with our consumption. They pitched what they knew; they presented proposals for lifestyle changes and medication. Our circumstances, we self-acknowledged, were above their pay grade. We listened, but we did not hear.
They diagnosed, and we diagnosed. They analyzed, and we analyzed. They tried their approaches, and we tried ours; all attempts failed.
Perhaps honesty would have helped. But we know now that they don’t teach spirituality in medical schools, so at best, they could provide temporary safety and guidance toward recovery.
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)
Formed in 1935, the AA brand and message spread rapidly across the United States from which we preside.
We first became aware of the organization in our early 20s. Conversations around the kitchen table indicated that Uncle Billy, brother-in-law Bob, or our neighbor Ned had a severe drinking problem and that their only option was to join this association. We didn't think about them much past dessert, but the impression was that there was help for the heavy cases.
Some of the medical professionals we discussed above mentioned AA in passing That they could relieve our suffering. Still, we discounted the severity of our dis-ease, as indeed, we weren’t as bad as Uncle Billy.
For some, the helicopters came from lawyers, judges, counselors, co-workers, HR departments, relatives, neighbors, bartenders, and strangers. These, the kind-hearted, suggested that we “get help,” and many referred us back to the dreaded AA way.
At specific points of desperation, we dipped our toe into the recovery universe, occasionally attending an AA gathering where we met well-intentioned souls who offered up their phone numbers and a promise of one-on-one support at no charge.
All of the above was available to us, like a rowboat, a motorboat, and a helicopter. It wasn't until we felt the pain of taking on the water that we grabbed the lifeline.
Our heart goes out to those who will meet the maker one day and say, “Where were you in my pain?: “Why didn't you save me from alcoholism?”. God may very well answer, “I sent you loved ones, medical professionals, associates, and strangers. I gave you knowledge of a solution (AA) and even offered help - all of which you've rejected.
Don’t be the guy on the roof!
Thoughts and ideas for this blog post were taken and built upon from a sober.coffee podcast #E21 Sobriety - Lynda Joins to Chat about "How to Get Started on the Sober Path"…the episode dropped on 8/25/2021 Click here to hear the podcast.
Alcoholics Anonymous and AA are registered trademarks of Alcoholics World Service. Inc. References to AA, the 12 steps, and 12 traditions does not mean that AA has reviewed or approved the contents of this publication nor that AA agrees with the views expressed herein. This publication is intended to support personal growth and should not be considered a substitute for healthcare professionals' advice. The author’s advice and viewpoints are their own.