“The 12th step in the program of Alcoholics Anonymous is truly magnificent. In one sentence, and two phrases, it gives us, not only guidance in stopping drinking, but a guide to living a more useful and peaceful life.
My parents did a good enough job trying to instill the good qualities and life skills to get me through life. But the one thing I missed was the fact it would take a power greater than myself to activate these qualities. That left to my own devices I would surely fail. And fail I did. At a very early age I began to try and use self will and self knowledge to run my life.
Somehow I missed the part about surrender and asking for help. It wasn’t till I was beaten down enough that I began to see that I needed to go to somewhere else, someone greater than myself for help. Once I surrendered to my higher power, everything came easier. Gradually my spiritual “experience”, not unlike Bill W’s “road to Damascus” miracle, began to take hold, and eventually morphed into a lifetime spiritual “awakening.”
Then came the second half of Step 12. Once I had the spiritual experience, I became a willing pilgrim, looking to improve all areas of my life. And that came through getting outside of myself and working with other alcoholics and addicts and beginning to incorporate a more selfless approach to life.
When the horrible floods that hit Nashville in 2010 came, relatives, friends, and neighbors dropped everything to help each other. People worked tirelessly. And, in turn, neighbors that never talked before, became friends, and even people that disliked each other dropped everything to help one another. I have never seen our community friendlier and happier than during that period of time. The more you give, the more you receive.
The second half of the 12th Step means becoming more available to your fellow AAs, the hurting and needy people around you, your family, your co-workers, and your friends. In your AA program it means meeting and talking with addicts and recovering addicts when needed. It means going wherever and whenever someone reaches out for help.
It means helping your spouse, friend, co-worker, or anyone in your life, who reaches out for help; no matter how inconvenient or menial the task seems. It means doing the right thing, even when all instincts say deny, lie, or flee.
When I live only “in my head” and not looking “outside” myself, I am in trouble. I need to begin concentrating on what other people need rather than my own self-centered “needs.” Only then will I feel joy and serenity. Or, as they say, “the peace that passeth all understanding.”
In the midst of the tragic floods in Nashville, people began seeing the best in each other. More than ever, Nashville felt like a community.
Addiction is another tragedy that separates friends, relatives, families, and co-workers. But in working together altruistically for each other, in the other person’s behalf, we can find a healing “that passeth all understanding.” Only through surrender and selflessness can we navigate through our own addictions. And, only through surrender and selflessness can we find true happiness and serenity, ”
Tell us how you are using your spiritual awakening in your sobriety or how you are carrying the message of the 12th Step.