Mid-Week Inspiration: Matching Calamity with Serenity

My friend Richie, whom I have never met in person, challenged me last week to write about “matching calamity with serenity.” This is a partial quote taken from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. The full quote is:

Just to the extent that we do as we think He would have us, and humbly rely on Him, does He enable us to match calamity with serenity.

That sentence has truthfully never stood out to me, and it always amazes me how each time I read that book or hear an excerpt read in a meeting, I find more meaning and depth in it. If you are not in recovery, it is still worth reading. There are jewels in there that can help anybody get over hardships. Anyway, I digress.

I googled the phrase to see what else came up. Jared Akers from jaredakers.com has a You Tube video about “matching calamity with serenity.” That got me thinking.

What jumps out for me is that line from the Promises which reads “We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us.” I remember hearing those Promises read early on in recovery and was just dying to know how to handle situations that were baffling me at that time. I always made them worse or I just fell apart in general. The first time I “intuitively handled” a situation and remained calm, I was stunned. That was when I began to see the Promises in a new light. They were real. It was not marketing material.

The Big Book was written in the 30s, so the language is a bit different. Calamity is not necessarily a word used in popular vernacular today. The definition of calamity is:

ca·lam·i·ty  (k-lm-t)

n. pl. ca·lam·i·ties

1. An event that brings terrible loss, lasting distress, or severe affliction; a disaster: A hurricane would be a calamity for this low-lying coastal region.
2. Dire distress resulting from loss or tragedy.

So, we’re not talking about a small problem. Calamity is a big problem. My divorce was a calamity. And, thankfully, I did know how to handle it with a little help from my friends and a lot of help from God. I intuitively sought out MORE connection, LESS chaos and MORE self-care. I intuitively knew that going out and finding another man or moving to a new city or using substances would not help me. But, the intuition came as a result of the TRAINING that I had received in good times. I had developed habits and behaviors that calmed me and soothed me, that gave back to me, and that made me feel part of a greater plan. So, when calamity struck-and it always will-I intuitively knew what to do.

The Promises even state that “they will always materialize if we work for them.” It doesn’t say they will materialize if we pray really hard and ask God to give us this knowledge, although that’s a piece of it. It doesn’t say that you will get them if you attend meetings every week. It says if we “work” for them. I am a trainer by trade. I know that when you practice a skill and make mistakes and do it again, you begin to internalize the skill. It’s the same thing with a spiritual path. There’s a reason that most spiritual paths have literature and ritual and ways to fellowship and connect with other people. These are the “actions” that help you grow. These are the “work” that has to be performed to create change and build character. I haven’t found it easy nor have I found it fun. But, once the initial year or so was under my belt, the behaviors did become habit and then became just a part of the way I live. Now, the Promises really have begun to come true. And, for that, I will be eternally grateful.

I’ll leave you today with the Promises of AA.

If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.

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.

15 Comments on “Mid-Week Inspiration: Matching Calamity with Serenity

  1. I am sitting with several other people and trying to not cry. Very timely.

  2. I remember that moment well; the realization that the promises were coming true in my life. Brought new meaning to the concept of “don’t give up until the miracle happens.” Thanks for sharing my video.

  3. Love Love Love! I second your assertion that it does work if you do the work. I’ve mini-fourthed and mini-fifthed stepped quite a few things, and I’m amazed every time.

    When I was in outpatient treatment and Citibank served me with papers one evening, I sat down in my reading chair, had a good cry, and thought about and looked up the passage about matching calamity with serenity. What a comfort. And nearly 4 years down the road, my life is SO much better–more peaceful, more calm. I want to hang onto that and will do whatever it takes to do so.

    Thank you for articulating it so well Sharon. xoxo

    • Thanks, Lisa. Sometimes it’s hard…sometimes it’s easy. But, it’s always up to me to do the work. This particular blog was definitely a God thing. Someone else told me to write it, and it came out of me already written. Two people have already contacted me to tell me how much they needed it today because they are in calamity. What a gift to just do as I am told!

      • I love that, “but it’s always up to me to do the work.” THAT is one of the crucial things that were… as the saying goes part of my moment of clarity. That I had to do the work. I was not entitled to anything. But the real payoff is the results (self-love, spiritual connection, etc.) is ever lasting.

        And the concept of “sometime’s it hard, sometime’s it’s easy.” As my sponsor says, “It always works… except when it doesn’t.” LOL

      • Sponsors…boy, do they come up with some winners! Mine used to tell me, “imagine your Higher Power with his loving arms around you and his hand over your mouth.” True wisdom.

  4. Thanks. Now maybe I will handle my next calamity intuitively.

    • Thank you. I sort of think of them as a “share”. They are obviously a little more thought out and edited, but I love when somebody else gives me the topic and I share on it. I just wish I could hear other people’s thoughts on it, too. Maybe people will begin to comment like that in the future. I guess I could ask for it. 🙂

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