The Meeting With Joe, by Gary S. (source lost)
One cold winter morning as I looked out my bedroom window at the gray, bleak landscape I wondered, What is my life worth? Where do I fit into the scheme of things? I felt completely overwhelmed by rejection. I couldn’t see any hope in my future. And when I considered my past, I didn’t like anything I saw.
I was 45 years old, and had recently lost my job. I was getting no response to the dozens of resumés I sent out. The idea of taking a drink occurred to me, but I had already been down that road. Alcohol had wreaked havoc on my life, but I’d been sober now for eight years. For what? part of me sneered. Alone in my house, I sank deeper and deeper into despair. My head ached as I fought one black thought after another. Am I losing my mind?
I kept picturing the 12-gauge shotgun in the attic. Over and over my mind took me back to that loaded gun.
Suddenly a new thought came out of nowhere: Go see Joe.
I had met Joe at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. A straight-talking trucker and farmer who was as opinionated as people come, he was as different from me as could be. But I admired his frankness and eventually asked him to be my sponsor, another recovering alcoholic I could always talk to one-on-one.
“Sure,” he had agreed. “Helping you helps, me.” I had no idea what I could possibly offer him.
Afraid of what I might do if I stayed alone, I forced myself to get into my car. I drove the three miles to Joe’s and found him in his barnlike garage, standing near his wood-burning stove. He acted as though I was just the person he wanted to see. Soon he was telling me about things that were hurting him, trying to sort them out. He must have gone on for two hours, with me just listening, both of us sitting by the stove, tossing in a log every once in a while. Finally we said good-bye.
On my drive home I realized I had made it through the day. My troubles weren’t over, but hearing about Joe’s struggles had really helped me. I almost had to smile. Joe, you don’t know it, but you saved my life today.
At an AA meeting about a week later, I nodded to Joe across the room. The group recited the ‘Serenity Prayer,’ then we took turns talking. Joe said, “A week ago my life seemed hopeless. In fact, I had decided to end it. I picked out a rope and the beam I was going to throw it over. But then, unexpectedly, another recovering alcoholic came by.”
I almost fell out of my chair. I had no idea!
Joe looked at me. “God used that alcoholic to save my life.”
Galatians 6:2 — Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
II Corinthians 1:3-4 — Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
Proverbs 11:25 — Be generous, and you will be prosperous. Help others, and you will be helped. (Good News Translation)
The AA Prayer of Serenity
God, give us grace to accept with serenity
The things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.