Looking back — Deb R, Delegate, Panel 37, 1997-9
Over the last few months, I gave a lot of thought to our Conference theme and even sat down on a few occasions to jot down some ideas, but nothing seemed to “carry the message” I wanted to deliver. The problem was my thinking that I alone needed to cover the topic thoroughly, address the problem, and come up with a solution in three minutes or less! I was trying to carry the message alone.
Carrying the message is never a sole effort. It takes all of us. Every member of this Conference, whether delivering a talk, sharing ideas or area concerns, or presenting information, has an important part in the overall message. Mine is but a small part of it.
I was reminded of the slogan “Together We Can Make It.” I have often used our slogans and Steps to work through problems and “First Things First” came to mind. I gave thought to the fact that, in order to carry a message, I must first have a message. I remembered my enthusiasm in the early days. I was anxious to tell anyone about how wonderful Al-Anon was for them! I diligently applied the Steps and slogans to other people’s problems. Fortunately, I put away my soapbox after a time and began to look at my own situation. Minding my own business and focusing on myself became a way of life so much so that I failed to carry the message when I could have done so.
What message do I carry? I am fortunate that I began my recovery in a group where our primary purpose was never forgotten. Traditions were followed and service was not just suggested—it was expected and respected. The message that was carried to me was the simple, undiluted message that Al-Anon works. There is a great temptation at times to adapt our program to make it seem more appealing. I hope I always remember that Al-Anon, in its simplicity, is able to bridge differences and unite us in our common problem.
To whom do we carry the message? First to those who need to be aware of our fellowship. Their need is so great and our resources so limited that I, like many others, feel quite overwhelmed by the prospect. I feel frustrated at times by public outreach efforts. So often the work is being done by so few. Then I remember “Let It Begin With Me.” I can’t do it all, but I can make a difference. Without a great deal of effort, I can take back issues of the Forum and leave them in offices. I can take time to send a new meeting schedule to a professional in my community.
There are others who need our message as well. Our longtimers need to know that they are valued. Our trusted servants need to know that they are appreciated. Our staff needs to hear not only the problems, but also the successes, not only what went wrong, but also what went right. We can send a huge message of support and encouragement by contributing financially, letting Al-Anon know that what they are doing merits our support.
I can do none of this alone, but I can do my part. I have often wished for a magic wand that I could wave to bring excitement and enthusiasm in our fellowship for carrying the message. My Higher Power, in His great wisdom, has not given me a magic wand. Instead, I have been given an opportunity to participate in discussions, to address the problems, to look for solutions, and quite possibly, to be part of a greater renewal than a magic wand could ever produce.