50 Quiet Miracles That Changed Lives
He was embarrassed, for some stupid reason, that his wife might see him on his knees praying, so Hank went into the bathroom and knelt down next to the commode. It wasn’t an altogether unfamiliar position since less than three months ago his alcoholic drinking led him there quite frequently.
His Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor had been suggesting for some weeks now that the twenty-nine-year-old unemployed advertising executive start each day on his knees asking God to help keep him sober—and then thank God each night for another day without a drink. This morning was the first time he was following that suggestion. It felt awkward and a bit hypocritical since Hank and his Higher Power had only recently become reacquainted in the rooms of AA, and he hardly knew what to say. Also, he didn’t want his wife, Sandi, to catch him at it, so it was a quick “Please, dear God, keep me sober today.Thanks.” And then he hopped in the shower.
This wasn’t the only big decision Hank had made this particular morning. He had been anxious and fearful about looking for another job since his reputation as a drunk waspretty well known in his industry, especially when someone would call one of his former employers. But with a wife and three children and a huge pile of debts, he had to find employment somewhere. So this was the day; with the help and urging of his sponsor, he had raised enough internal courage to finally go and start searching.
It turned out to be one of the most difficult days Hank had had since putting down the booze. Despite his highly recognized advertising skills and achievements, the problems his drinking had caused seemed to be the only thing people in the business remembered. He found a lot of doors closed in his face—most of them politely, but closed nevertheless.
Even his old drinking buddies who worked at various ad agencies around town were unwilling to lend a helping hand or put in a good word for him. He found them to be mostly fair weather friends now that he was no longer buying them scotch on the rocks. After a long day of rejection, Hank was ready to head for home and then to his local AA meeting.
There was a tasty-looking chocolate layer cake on the kitchen table when he entered the house. It was just what the doctor ordered—a nice big slice with a glob of vanilla ice cream to soothe the nerves and take away that familiar craving he was beginning to feel deep inside. Sandi walked in just as Hank had the cake knife in his hand and was ready to serve himself. She stopped him, saying rather huffily—or at least it seemed that way in the mood he was in—that she had baked the cake for her Al-Anon meeting that night and didn’t want it cut.
Sometimes it doesn’t take much for the disease of alcoholism to raise its ugly head, especially when you’re only three months sober. Sandi’s remark was the straw that seemed to break the camel’s back on this terribly disappointing day.
Hank suddenly remembered that his brother-in-law had left four cans of beer in the kitchen cabinet after visiting over the weekend. He walked angrily to the cabinet, yanked open the door, grabbed a can of beer and popped it open. He yelled at his wife that he had had enough turndowns for one day and maybe he was better off drunk.
As he put the can of beer to his lips, the telephone rang. For some reason, he lowered the can and stared at his wife, whose eyes were filled with tears. The phone kept ringing. Finally, Hank picked it up. His sponsor was on the other end. He said he was on his way over to pick Hank up to go on a Twelve Step call with him to help another sick alcoholic.
The can of beer fell from Hank’s hand. His eyes were also now filled with tears. He says he suddenly felt the presence of God all around him—the same God he had asked that morning to help keep him sober.
He knew it was God calling.
Excerpted from 50 Quiet Miracles That Changed Lives by William G. Borchert. Borchert is the author of The Lois Wilson Story and the co-author of Sought Through Prayer and Meditation. A former partner at Artists Entertainment Complex, he was nominated for an Emmy in 1989 for his screenplay of My Name Is Bill W.