"Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us -— sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them."
The Promises end with this last stanza that perhaps is the most powerful of them all. Why? Because it is in this last statement that we hear them called The Promises. The covenant is made. The gauntlet has been thrown at our feet: Do you want this for your life? You can have it!
We are told that this is not a vision that is unrealistic or available only to those with enough money; or the right zip code; skin color; sexual orientation; genitalia. No, they are promises for anyone who seeks to walk the path.
That is powerful.
In fact, the only thing that can make you ineligible to experience the benefits of the covenant for yourself is to not do the work. That’s it. Do the work, and they are yours. Always. That is a big word. Not only do they use the term “Promises” that means a guarantee, but the certitude of it all is reinforced by the word “always.” Not sometimes. Not only if you have love in your heart every moment of every day. Not if you do them perfectly. No, simply work for them. God will always meet us halfway. What a wonderful truth to embrace. Always.
Of course, just because you do the work does not mean they will come true on your terms and according to your timeline. They have not always looked the way I thought they would. And as they unfold, they keep unfolding.
Like recovery, there are many layers to The Promises: Right when you think you have experienced one of them, something happens in your life and you see that promise from a completely different perspective. An added nuance. A new depth. And, just as they have come to fruition in your life, so can they go away. Stop doing the work and watch them slowly dissipate like a mist that reveals a bleak and dark landscape you thought you could never possibly see again: the anti-promises.
I am very conscious of potentially sounding like a fundamentalist or a zealot -- or naive; Pollyannish. Maybe I sound like someone who doesn’t appreciate that for some people the best they can do is simply do everything to find something to eat; or a way to take care of their family. The pressure that some people live in seems to inevitably crowd out any possibility that they can live in any dedicated way to the principles that will make The Promises come true. I do not pretend to know what is best for someone else or what limitations might prevent them from having the life they want, or even possibly deserve.
But I do know that, like the sun, The Promises simply do not care about your life situation. They shine for all. They are simply there; an immutable presence in our lives. They are a truth. A law of nature. It is like asking the rain to care about whether you deserve to be rained upon. The same rain that leads to the floods that destroy homes and kill people is the rain that gives life to the smallest flower, and all life.
It is the ultimate choice -- one of the greatest ways for us to exercise the free will we have been given.
As I said at the very beginning of this comprehensive exploration of The Promises, I understand there are promises throughout the literature of recovery, many of which I love. Other promises I strive for and have seen come true in my life. But nowhere are there 12 promises so richly and fervently declared. Nowhere is the vision of what is possible from the work of recovery so beautifully and extensively laid out.
For those of us who felt like we constantly missed the mark and seemed to have an inborn sense of our own ineptness and were constantly falling short, no matter how successful we may have seemed to the outside world, this is a wonderful vision of life. The Promises bring a life that offers us peace and happiness: the same things we searched for at the bottom of every bottle, in the stem of every crack pipe, in the pull of every lever on the slot machine, every purging of our last meal, every time we found ourselves in yet another hotel room with in the grips of another tryst while the loves of our lives were asleep at home.
All of those were desperate searches for something to make us okay; something to enable us to live in our skin. All of the wonderment of The Promises is offered to us, free of charge, so long as we are willing to put in the sweat equity. What an amazing opportunity to truly attain the life of our dreams.
It’s true. It’s real. It’s a promise. What a gift. What an amazing gift far beyond anything we deserve. A gift with the greatest value despite the fact that anyone can have it. You may be reading this wondering, just as I did so many years ago as I was slowly coming out of the fog, if you can really experience them. I hoped beyond hope they were possible for me, too. I was told they were. I was not special. I would not be left out.
So I will say to any doubters or anyone feeling forlorn because you feel as though they continue to elude you: They’re true. They’re real.
They are Promises.
And they will always materialize if you work for them.