But For the Grace of God (there go I)

IMG_0944But for the grace of God is a phrase that gives me trouble when it’s not used in the AA sense.  To use it when referring to some unfortunate person, and to mean that God’s grace has somehow favored me and spared me some misfortune or disability or tragedy or something, to me is just wrong.  I don’t know why bad things happen to good people, but they do.


In AA that it not what I believe it means, though we may use it to refer to someone who can’t get sober.


Grace is mentioned many times in the AA literature.  In the 12 & 12, grace banishes our deadly obsession (page 76), but we find that grace by achieving some humility.  Grace enables us to carry out God’s will (page 102).  Page 69 in the 12 & 12 may explain it best.


The moment we say, “No, never!” our minds close against the grace of God.

That’s the heart of the my understanding.  God’s grace is there for everyone, but some people can’t or won’t be open to it, and so can’t recover.  I was one of them for many years.  I wanted it, but I couldn’t be open to it.  I don’t think that God’s grace will leave me, but I know from the experience of others that I can turn my back on it and stop accepting it and relapse.  I can receive God’s grace, but only through work on my part.


2 thoughts on “But For the Grace of God (there go I)

  1. YES! This is something that bugs me in meetings when people say it referring to a tragedy befallen to a fellow AA, like the death of a grandchild (just heard it in a meeting last week). I use it only when it refers to a fellow alcoholic who relapses, or can’t get sober, because in my understanding of the phrase, “But for the grace of God, there go I.” I am only sober by God’s grace, not because of my own will or self-control…simply because God removed the obsession so that I may be of use to my fellow. Of course, I prayed and made the decision to turn my will over, but I didn’t get sober. I allowed God’s grace into my life. Thank you for your blog. I don’t often comment, but I read every post.

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