Step 12: Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
Principle 8 (CR): Yield myself to God to be used to bring this Good News to others, both by my example and by my words.
One of the greatest gifts I have received as a result of being a part of the AA community is this new way of living that is found in the steps. I am no longer held captive by my fleeting feelings, desires or the actions of others. I now have a recipe for right living and by right living I mean conducting life in a way that leads to more peace and limits things like stress, anxiety and unnecessary drama.
Once you finish the steps, you realize that the steps become a part of you. Many of us in the rooms will continue to work through the steps at different points in our lives. A quick 4th -9th steps here, a quick 2nd and 3rd step here and maybe an 11th and 12 step from time to time. Instead of being this giant encumbering process, the steps become second nature and can be done in a matter of minutes more often than not. Living and breathing the steps is the new way of life I have come to know and I am grateful for having the 12 steps and the AA community for whatever life throws at me.
Okay, enough with the gratitude… what does it mean to practice these principles in all our affairs? In simplest terms it means keeping our side of the street clean or to put it another way keeping your karma clean. Aiming to do right in every situation and praying for guidance to know the right action. Being kind, being willing to hear another person out and being willing to help out when needed. In short, instead of doing the steps, you start living the steps. Please note that this does not mean that you allow people to walk all over you! Sobriety comes first. If someone or something causes you to stumble, you can choose to not partake - you don’t have to make yourself available to everyone and everything. What it does mean is that as you are able - you make yourself available to help others along this path. Whether it is welcoming people to a meeting, answering the phone or returning a 12 step call or offering to take someone out for coffee and a chat after a meeting… Living the steps is nothing more than making ourselves available to be of service should another human being need it and actively pursuing quality friendships and relationships with those we encounter along our path. Notice I said quality relationships - not unhealthy, unstable or one-sided. While it is important to be kind and friendly to everyone - we don’t have to subject ourselves to dangerous situations, mental and emotional abuse or to people who seem to drag us down.
Another way to look at living the steps is to see the steps as everyday components of our lives. We wake up each day acknowledging that we need help, ask for guidance from our Higher Power and thank Him in advance for loving us and guiding us along our path. We ask our Higher Power to reveal any shortcomings and ask Him to help us do better today than we did yesterday. (Some of us will write these down in a Daily Inventory journal). If and when we wrong someone, we will ask our Higher Power for forgiveness and seek the best way to make amends with that person. We will continue to go to meetings and share our experiences (victories and failures) so that others can grow strong in their journey. We will continue to pray daily and continue to take personal inventory of our interactions with others and with ourselves. When resentment, anger, loneliness, grief, sadness, or any other unhappy feeling comes over us - we will reach out to others in the program and enact our own plan for getting through these times (often starting with a 4th step like analysis). We will continue this life of prayer, acting in service to others and doing our best to see the good in others (or at least where they are coming from and why) as we go through life on life’s terms. This is living the steps. This is love in action. This is a new way to do life… And I can tell you with seven years of experience within this community - IT WORKS!
Step 11: Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
Principle 7 (CR): Reserve a daily time with God for self-examination, Bible reading, and prayer in order to know God and His will for my life and to gain the power to follow His will.
Ohhh this can be such a hard one for us self-centered alcoholics and addicts. To not pray for what we want, but to only pray for what God wants! That takes trust. That takes will-power. That takes persistence. That takes Self-Awareness. That takes us out of our own muck where problems lie and into focused action where solutions and new life are found. This step is hard, but it is a necessary one if we are going to be able to fulfill the mission found in step 12. It is also necessary if we are going to live a joyous and free sober life!
And the thing is - we’ve all done it! In moments of dire need we have called out saying something like “Help me know what to say”, or “Whatever happens, help it be what’s supposed to happen”, or “whatever the outcome - just lead me through this cuz I just can’t”, or some that I’ve been saying a lot lately, “please don’t let me make a mistake!”, and “I have my preferences, but if its not mine - don’t bring it back to me” …. And the list goes on, right?
Hopefully, you saw yourself in those calls for help because reminding ourselves of when we’ve called out for help and how our God has answered us gives us the confidence to start turning our will over to the care of our Higher Power all the more. We came into the rooms because we lost ourselves somewhere along the way and as a consequence developed character defects that we need to try to correct. The answer is the continual turning over of our lives to our Higher Power as we understand Him. The more we pray for God’s will, the more we pray to accept that will and carry it out - the less our character defects become and the more free we become and the more happy we become and the more willing we become for the mission in Step 12.
I call it a mission, but it is more of a way of life… But you can’t live that way of life on your own - you need your Higher Power directing your steps and you need your recovery community walking with you. Are you ready to truly start stepping away from your own muck? Are you ready to start seeing people and situations differently? Are you ready to replace anxiety with peace? It starts with being willing to pray for God’s will for you and the power to carry it out.