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!