Humility in Recovery and How to Develop It
December 10, 2020
Happiness vs Joy
December 22, 2020

The Jigsaw Process

There’s no way of knowing how the life of a newborn child is going to turn out. And if there was, we could simply make the adjustments to environment, education, and other similar needs, as the child evolved into an adult.

Providing a safe, loving and nurturing home life is a good start, but even that is no guarantee of success.

In the formative years we develop instinctive drives to protect ourselves from perceived dangers, and how we control these instincts usually is the measure of how well balanced we turn out emotionally. So much of the AA Program involves the understanding of these instinctive drives, and our willingness and ability to come to terms with these natural impulses, when they far exceed their natural purpose.

Each year during the winter months, my wife puts out a jigsaw puzzle. As the days go by, we find times we sit around the table, chat and spend time together. When we dump the puzzle out of the box, we first turn all the pieces right side up and spread them out.

As we do this, we find some pieces with straight edges that form the perimeter. They are easy to figure out.

The easiest pieces to figure out are the four corners, which is where we start. These pieces form the framework of the puzzle. Next, we find pieces that have numbers on them or other common characteristics, such as colors or patterns, that make it easy to fit them together.

Others have different shades that can be compared to each other, revealing the general location of where they will fit in, and soon everything starts to develop. When we get to the blue sky part of the picture, things slow down a bit, as these pieces are less obvious. But the puzzle isn’t finished until all of the pieces are in place, and that may be the day we shuffle off this mortal coil.

To me, all of this is like the way the pieces of Alcoholics Anonymous are pictured in my mind. The desire to stop drinking and to come to meetings are like the cornerstones that start the whole process moving. Next, getting a sponsor, beginning to take the Steps, getting into service, helping others and so on, are some of the framework pieces that are obvious to most of us.

Next, we start to recognize some of the more obvious defects of character that need to be addressed. They are numerous, if we are strong enough to admit it. If we are not, the picture will never be complete. As we continue to clear up these issues (wreckage of the past) and put them behind us, it would be easy to rest on our laurels and be satisfied with half measures.

If, however, we are diligent about continuing this process of examining our motives for everything we do, until it becomes second nature, our life will become a rewarding adventure as all of those negative emotions are replaced, daily, with feelings of wellbeing. This is the blue skies portion of the puzzle, as I see it, and the part that many of us often miss. Simply because of indifference, we may miss out on the freedom and peace of mind we seek.

If you are the one those in AA, who finds themselves in that malaise, let me encourage you to consider revisiting those items that you skipped over and let your conscience rather than your EGO win this battle. It may be the best decision you have made since you made the decision to come to AA.

Those misguided instincts that fueled those faulty behaviors have had their way far too long. Let’s get those pieces of the puzzle into place and see where it takes us. I guarantee that you won’t regret it.

By Rick R.

Like this story? Join thousands of other A.A.'s who receive new stories each month delivered right into their inbox.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of the AA Cleveland District Office.