SKATEBOARD PUP: But where is God in this? God's Will, and all that stuff.
The Skateboard Pup had texted me with a 711 - which, if you're curious, means serious, please can we meet face to face soon, but it's not as urgent as a 911. I don't have this cute little coding system with anyone else, but early on it seemed a good way for him to reach out to me and begin to self-assess how he was feeling. Prior to this we'd never gotten higher than a 511, so I responded with alacrity. I had actually just gotten home from coffee with a friend, so it was basically turn right around and head back out the door. He, for his part, was already in my neighborhood.
MR. SPONSORPANTS: I'll get into that in a minute, but I have to ask, why all this sudden interest in what God's Will is for you?
SKATEPUP: Well, Girlfriend has been talking a lot about how it is God's Will for us to be happy, joyous and free, as it says in the Big Book.
MR. SP: Ah.
SKATEPUP: And the more I think about it, the more I am sort of... not confused but sort of...
MR. SP: Confused.
SKATEPUP: Okay, yeah. Confused.
MR. SP: People loooove, that bit about God's Will for us is to be "happy, joyous and free."
SKATEPUP: Don't you think it's true?
MR. SP: Sure, I guess.
SKATEPUP: You guess?
MR. SP: Okay, yeah. right. Sure. God's Will is for us to be happy, joyous and free. Fine. Yes.
SKATEPUP: Wow, don't sound too enthusiastic or anything. You must have a really dark Higher Power or something.
MR. SP: Sometimes, but let's not get sidetracked here. You want to know God's Will and I can tell you what it is. It's in the Big Book, pretty plainly stated. No big mystery.
The Skatepup tilted his head and considered me for a moment, narrowing his eyes.
SKATEPUP: Is this a trick?
MR. SP: A trick? Why would this be a trick? And when have I ever tricked you?
SKATEPUP: Not... not like that it's just... too easy. Just like that, you can tell me God's Will for me. And why do I think it isn't going to be about "happy, joyous and free."
MR. SP: Oh, it will be, I guess. But... look, do you know Hairdo?
SKATEPUP: Hairdo? Yeah, they go to my regular Sunday night meeting. What about it?
MR. SP: Well, using the idea -- the Big Book quote, actually -- that it is God's Will for us to be happy, joyous and free, they've been able to justify getting into and then out of two seperate relationships, with a little overlap in the middle, and some spousal collateral damage on the side.
SKATEPUP: Really? Well that's... hey, is that gossip? For you to tell me that?
MR. SP: I don't think so. I am trying to illustrate a point or two, and I shared that with you in confidence, as your sponsor, without malice, and without details as to who, what or when. And the point I'm trying to illustrate is...?
SKATEPUP: I can cheat on Girlfriend someday if I think it's God's Will! Cool!
I sighed, and dramatically held my head in my hands for a moment, shaking it back and forth, miming consternation.
MR. SP: You are a demon imp from hell, aren't you, sent here to slowly drive me to madness and despair.
SKATEPUP: Unmasked! How am I doing on that?
MR. SP: Better than you might think. Seriously though, that answer is actually almost the point I'm trying to make. But it's not really about infidelity, it's about... come on, we're too far down the road for you to play at not being as sharp as I know you are.
MR. SP: Yes. Obviously from the Crusades on up, deciding that God said it was okay is how people give themselves permission to do what they know is wrong but they want to do anyway. But any thinking person can connect those dots. What I want you to think about is how alcoholics, already ninjas at self deception and self justification, can use that quote in particular from the Big Book to cosign all kinds of bullshit.
And perhaps, though I don't want to accuse her of laying any groundwork or anything, that's what Girlfriend is about with this whole thing too -- but getting into what she had or hadn't said and why suddenly she was involved in this being such a burning topic for the Skatepup wasn't going to help me land the main point here, so I filed all that away for later consideration.
SKATEPUP: So... it's not God's will for me to be happy, joyous and free? Bummer.
MR. SP: Of course it is, although that's the result of doing God's Will, not the... the...
MR. SP: Process! Yes! Thank you!
SKATEPUP: So then what is the answer? The process? The simple thing. Enlighten me please, if you know what God's Will is for me.
MR. SP: It says it quite clearly in the Big Book -- and in lots of places outside of AA, actually, depending on your flavor of philosophy -- in fact, after I tell you I want you to look it up and read the context please.
When we talked about the Big Book I usually suggested that after he got home the Skatepup look up what I had referenced and read it for himself.
SKATEPUP: You know all your little "look this up" stuff isn't like flipping through the book like a big study exercise, right?
MR. SP: It's not?
I was caught out and my face betrayed me. That is exactly what I pictured, and thought I was being clever and getting the Skatepup some extra exposure to the Big Book as he flipped pages looking. He laughed -- not unkindly -- at my expression.
SKATEPUP: No. I have the searchable Big Book app on my phone and I just plug whatever you said into it and find it in like, two seconds.
Color me chagrined, and a product of my era, sometimes.
MR. SP: Ah, of course. Well, then, Elroy, I leave you to a future of quick and sterile digital access, devoid of the simple pleasures of flipping pages.
SKATEPUP: Said the man who published an eBook.
MR. SP: Oh, my poor aged, addled head. You continue to get the best of me, you wretched brat.
SKATEPUP: And maybe that's God's Will too! So anyway, what is this thing I'm going to look up and take two seconds to find, that tells me simply and clearly what God's Will is for me?
MR. SP: God's Will is for you to fit yourself to be of maximum service to God and the people about you. Period. Full stop. That's it. No big mystery.
SKATEPUP: Then why do people share sometimes about trying to figure out...?
MR. SP: I've been there. It's easy to spin yourself around with this. There's a reason "Keep It Simple" is a slogan, after all.
MR. SP: So... if you want to be a Lexus Dealer, go for it, be a Lexus Dealer, and work to be of maximum service to God and those about you as you are dealing out all your Lexuses. Lexi? Whatever. If you want to be a Hot Dog Vendor, vend those dogs, and work to be of maximum service to those about you. Go on a vacation? Change jobs? Move to Bora Bora or Baltimore... go ahead, go for it, just...
SKATEPUP: Fit max service. Thank you, I get it I get it.
MR. SP: Told you it was simple. And if you do that, then you will be happy, joyous and free.
SKATEPUP: Oh. I thought it would be more...
MR. SP: Mysterious? Complicated? Byzantine? Arcane?
SKATEPUP: Holy shit, you love the words, don't you. But yeah, something like that.
MR. SP: Well, feel free to make it as difficult as you like. For me, now, today, my personal belief system is not that we are on a cosmic game show with a lot of special cash and prizes for guessing correctly whatever is on God's Mind about where we should go and what we should try to be. We can try anything, but if we want to stay sober, then whatever we do we try to fit ourselves...
SKATEPUP: ... to be of maximum service... okay. That's... that's not exactly what I expected from this.
MR. SP: I understand. But... sorry, kid. After more than two decades of wrestling this question to the ground myself, that's all I got.
We chatted a bit more, him filling me in on meetings and service without any prompting on my part, which made me glad down to my toes. Girlfriend not withstanding, today it felt like the Skatepup was settling comfortably into the middle of the lifeboat. I felt good for him and grateful for the privelege to... you knew I had to say it once more time, right? ... be of maximum service to God and to the people around me.
Because sometimes, some of the people around you stumble into the middle of your life, and leave you forever changed for the better.
Clearly, the Skateboard Pup was doing that for me.
There are more stories like this one in "Mr. SponsorPants: Adventures in Sobriety and The 12 Steps for AA's and Others." Available as an eBook on Kindle via Amazon. Download a Kindle reader for free on any device or platform, from PC to Smartphone, and enjoy eBooks anywhere you have time to read.