Some of the toughest things have been the most helpful to me.
Not in a "you must suffer to improve" way (I reject that school of thought).
But more in a "letting go of things I was holding on to that I didn't know I was holding on to" way. Peeling away layers to get to Truths.
Some of those experiences I would never have chosen for myself -- I still wouldn't, in fact -- but I cannot deny they set me free in some deep and powerful ways.
I keep my eye on these things so that if another tough patch comes along I'm not as overwhelmed by it. It helps to know -- not just hope, but know -- that from some of that "loss or failure or unwelcome change" can come ultimately good and helpful things.
Lord, thou knowest better than myself that I am growing older and will soon be old. Keep me from becoming too talkative, and especially from the unfortunate habit of thinking that I must say something on every subject and at every opportunity.
Release me from the idea that I must straighten out other peoples' affairs. With my immense treasure of experience and wisdom, it seems a pity not to let everybody partake of it. But thou knowest, Lord, that in the end I will need a few friends.
Keep me from the recital of endless details; give me wings to get to the point.
Grant me the patience to listen to the complaints of others; help me to endure them with charity. But seal my lips on my own aches and pains -- they increase with the increasing years and my inclination to recount them is also increasing.
I will not ask thee for improved memory, only for a little more humility and less self-assurance when my own memory doesn't agree with that of others. Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be wrong.
Keep me reasonably gentle. I do not have the ambition to become a saint -- it is so hard to live with some of them -- but a harsh old person is one of the devil's masterpieces.
Make me sympathetic without being sentimental, helpful but not bossy. Let me discover merits where I had not expected them, and talents in people whom I had not thought to possess any. And, Lord, give me the grace to tell them so.
And all that blah blah can certainly be good and worthwhile and helpful.
But if I want a powerful, vibrant connection with the spirituality I blah blah about then the recipe for that is clear: Self sacrifice and unselfish, constructive ACTION.
When I first showed up in AA they told me that I couldn't think myself into right action, I had to act myself into right thinking.
That principle applies to my faith as well. I can't talk myself into a conscious contact with a power greater than myself, I can only act myself into it. I must act like an unselfish person would act. I must act like a person who sacrifices their own convenience and time and energy to be helpful to others. And when I do, my faith comes alive. My faith becomes vital.
(Worth repeating: Willingness does not mean "want to.")
I'll be honest with you, kids, I was really hoping I could find a loophole around this one, since some days I would much prefer to talk about it than do it, but twenty-seven years in this is still the only equation that works.
Or, as it says elsewhere in the Big Book: "It works. It really does."