Tradition of the Month: Contributing to Our Own Recovery

7. Every OA group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.

We all know that Tradition 7 is why we pass the hat. But what’s in it for us as individual OA members? Quite a lot, as it turns out.

In order to be free from the monstrous  and insidious influence of fiduciary affairs, we are self-funding, and we only keep what we need to meet expenses. The rest goes onto service organizations that carry the message to the many out there who still suffer. We do our part as individuals to fund the rent and the literature. We are under absolutely no obligation to contribute, but we are strongly encouraged to do so. We are all responsible for OA’s health.

Yet for many of us, a lingering sense of unease comes with the Seventh Tradition. Simply put, many of us have a fear of financial insecurity. Virtually all of us have experienced this feeling. We may be on a fixed income and worried that the money will run out. We may be out of work and on unemployment. We may be over our heads in debt. Or we may simply have grown up impoverished and have trouble letting go of a buck or three. Perhaps several of these conditions and many others apply to us. Or none. Nonetheless, fear of falling of a financial cliff afflicts so many of us that it’s listed in The Book Book as an affect in the third column of our inventory of resentments!

As individual OA members, we can use Tradition 7 as a safe means to feel, heal, and deal with the fear of financial insecurity.

  • FEEL: When the hat gets passed, we can notice whether our fear arises, even a little bit.
  • HEAL: We then can say the fear prayer found in The Big Book on page 68: “We ask Him to remove our fear and direct our attention to what He would have us be.”
  • DEAL: Finally, we chip in.

For those who feel scared to put in anything, any amount will do. For those who put in less than they could, adding a little more than usual can help. No matter what we put in, what we are really doing is expressing faith that our Higher Power will both change us by helping us with this fear and work through us and OA to help others.

What do we get out of it? A low-risk opportunity for instant spiritual growth. A healthier OA. Freedom from the bondage of self that the Third Step prayer talks about. One dollar buys about 0.4 gallons of gasoline: We might walk somewhere during the week when we usually would drive. One dollar buys a bottle of premium seltzer water: We might have tap water one day a week instead of the bubbly. One dollar buys half a cup of coffee: Is there a cup we could do without once a week? Heck, we used to use that dollar on penny candy or cheap snack cakes, and we would gladly trade that for relief from compulsive eating!

As often is the case in OA, when we take courage from our Higher Power and do the thing we don’t want to, we receive a reward much greater than what we hesitatingly put it. Each time we do so, we take another step toward serenity and another step away from a life of anxiety and worry.