But For the Grace of God

- August 3, 2023


This slogan of Alcoholics Anonymous admonishes us to not judge others or our fellow sufferers.  Alcoholics are notorious of trying to play the “I’m better than you card.”  We particularly judge our homeless sufferers as unworthy of our attention or concern.   This occurs even after many years of sobriety for some people.  Most homeless persons have a mental disorder as well as a substance use problem.  The disease of addiction has taken them down to the bottom where it is almost impossible to find help for these people.  Fortunately, more social resources are being applied to the homeless population in our city.  Medical care, mental health and addiction services and housing are all on a fast track to try and reach the people in need.

You may ask “what does this have to do with me?”  Well, most alcoholics have the character defect of judging others.  We tend to look down on these unfortunate ones.  In ridding ourselves of character defects, judging others surely has to be gone.  It is only by the grace of our Higher Power that we are not homeless.  In most Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, we may hear someone who is doing well share that they were formerly homeless.  They were able to grasp the program and put their lives in order.  We may be friends with this person and are astonished at this admission of homelessness.  

This helps to teach us to not judge our sisters and brothers in and out of the program.  We may be approached by a panhandler and according to our conscience give them some money or not.  This is a personal decision each of us has to make.  Some of us may say that the panhandler may take the money and buy alcohol.  This may be true.  But then we come to the axiom of Alcoholics Anonymous which says that we are to take the action but stay out of the results.  But for the grace of our Higher Power, it could be us asking for spare change.   

Judging others needlessly is a hard defect to have removed.  We have to practice acceptance of people, places, and things as they are.  We do not get to apply a double standard to ourselves and continue to practice this defect.  We shake hands or fist bump the person who may have poor hygiene and be smelling like alcohol in meetings.  Remember the only requirement for membership in Alcoholic Anonymous is a desire to stop drinking.  It does help to become free of alcohol and drugs and stay sober and work the steps.  We begin to let go of our judgments when we see our own character defects.  We realize that by our alcoholism we could have ended us trying to sleep on a piece of cardboard on the sidewalk. We have not been appointed the judge of others.  We are to keep our eyes on our behavior and attitudes and show empathy to others, not judgment.   


Written by Phillip