Now, I am not minimizing the value of sober experience. I am all for it. I think it is great. But I don't think it makes me always right and you always wrong. I don't think it means I should stop listening to you. And especially, I don't think it means that I have the answers and you have the questions.
I don't like to beat people over the head with how long I have been sober. I love what they do in certain areas of the country- where they state, as a matter of fact, their date of sobriety. Not to boast, just to say. I finally put my sobriety date in the header of my blog because I seldom come off as an expert or even a long-term-sober authority and it would annoy me when someone would come along and make the assumption that I was newly sober (because I don't spout all the answers all the time) and give me good advice in the comments about how to hang in there just for today.
But yesterday at that roundtable, there were two men who were really struggling and I thought they could have used an encouraging word. I kept wondering what it would feel like to be shut down because someone else had "nearly 24 years." I wonder if I would even value that 24 years. I wonder if I would even want it.
One man said (I had my doubts about the veracity of his claim) that he had taken 4 years to do his 4th step, based on the advice of his sponsor. He was now going to take a couple of years to do his 6th step. I was very worried about him. I would have to drink or commit suicide if I was going to spend a couple of years after the 4th step without getting to the 9th step.
Another man at the table was a man I have known for at least 15 years in AA, he was angry about "AA dogma" and I thought that probably wasn't a really good sign of his spiritual condition. Or maybe it was a response to the attitude at the table.
Couldn't we try to be kind to each other and share our experience, strength, and hope without being so proud about what we could never have accomplished without the grace of a loving God?
If I really believe that I am sober by the Grace of God, I wouldn't go around boasting about it. If I really believe that I have done a fabulous job of doing great "work" at getting and staying sober, I guess I can go around bragging about it. I don't believe I have that luxury.
I will thank God for his Grace and then try to pass that on.