“Having had a Spiritual Awakening as a Result of these Steps, We Tried to Carry this Message to Others, and to Practice these Principles in all our Affairs”
In most every house with children, there is a certain wall or doorpost with pencil marks on it. These pencil marks, which have dates or ages next to them, keep track of growth. Every few months the kids back up against the wall, while Mom or Dad marks their height. Sometimes the growth is barely noticeable; and other times the growth is drastic.
Step Twelve is a time for noticing growth. We realize in this step that we have had a spiritual awakening. Through God’s goodness, and our commitment to work the steps, we have had a life changing spiritual experience. We began this journey as frightened tyrants, clinging to control our own little Kingdoms. However, we end this round of our journey with a new King on the throne, that King is God. We experienced a rebellion that we led against ourselves. With God’s help, we removed our own kingdom and established God’s. Although we know we have grown through this process, the mark on the wall is a little shorter – it’s minus the crown.
Step Twelve involves taking time to appreciate the spiritual growth in our lives. We work this step by sharing the program with others, and continuing to practice the principles of the steps in every area of our lives.
We can prepare for Step Twelve by ensuring that our Higher Power has been a part of every aspect of our program. If we have merely added God as an ingredient to our recovery, we will not notice any spiritual awakening. If we have maintained control throughout the steps, and worked them with rigorous zeal, we will find no spiritual awakenings now. However, the spiritual awakening of Step Twelve will be ours if we have done all of the following:
Relied upon our Higher Power’s presence, worked the steps in partnership with God, and surrendered control of our will and lives.
Step Twelve requires that we are instrumental in helping others receive God’s message of hope, and healing, through working the Twelve Steps. Someone who was working Step Twelve introduced many of us to this program. Now we have the opportunity to promote our own growth by helping others. We look for ways to share our new confidence because of our commitment to recovery, and our growing awareness of God’s presence in our lives. This program calls us to live our program daily, and explain to others the effectiveness of the Twelve Step principles.
This step reminds us that we have not yet completed our journey to wholeness. To continue our process of growth, we need to be aware that we have just begun to learn the principles that will improve the qualities of our lives. Each of the Twelve Steps is a vital part of fulfilling God’s plan for us. When our daily challenges distract and separate us from our Higher Power, we can use the steps as tools for coping with our problems, and drawing us back. Step One reminds us of our powerlessness; Steps Two and Three show us the ongoing need for God’s help; Steps Four through Nine guide us through self-examination, and making amends; Steps Ten and Eleven help us minimize our slips, and keep us in touch with our Higher Power. We are blessed through our conscientious attention to seeking God’s will, and to working the Steps. Our blessings may include a level of love, acceptance, honesty, and peace of mind that we’ve never experienced before. The hardest part of our journey is the beginning, and this step is our milestone. By reaching Step Twelve, we have shown our commitment to God’s will in our recovery.
Our spiritual awakening is a gift that instills in us a new perspective. It is usually accompanied by a significant change in our value system. Our pursuit of worldly goals has been subdued and redirected. We now look for fulfillment from things with real and lasting value. For most of us, the awakening is subtle, and best seen in hindsight. It seldom has a distinct beginning and ending. We also realize it took us a lot of hard work to get to where we are. As we awaken to the presence of our Higher Power’s love for us, our lives become filled with purpose and meaning.
“Actions speak louder than words” is an accurate description of how we should carry the Twelve Step message to others. It is more effective to witness a principle being applied than to hear lectures on theory alone. For example, sharing our own experiences of prayer and meditation has more meaning than simply lecturing and explaining why everyone should meditate and pray. Telling others our story will help them to recognize their need for a relationship with God and encourage the growth of our own humility. Carrying the message gives us an opportunity to describe the ways in which our Higher Power works, through the Twelve Steps, to transform our lives. Each day, our life experiences remind us how we are renewed in our relationship with our Higher Power. Through our sharing, we can convey our messages of experience, strength, and hope.
Working with newcomers to the program can be very rewarding. Many of them are troubled, confused, or resentful. They need guidance and help to understand that God will strengthen and change them through their Twelve-Step work. Through their willingness and commitment, they will experience rewards and miracles that far outweigh their present gain. We can encourage newcomers to be gentle with themselves, and to work the program one day at a time. This can be a growth experience for us. As we reflect on where we were when first introduced to the program, and how far we have come. When carrying the message, we can emphasize an important point about our decision to join the program. We made the decision only after we suffered enough, were discouraged, were tired of hurting, and had hit bottom.
Our relationship with God is the key to our success in everything, particularly in working the steps, and applying the principles in our daily affairs. We cannot allow ourselves to drift into indifference, and neglect our commitment to living according to the will of our Higher Power. Life constantly reminds us that we need to be prepared to face temptations and trials. However, with God’s help, we can transform them into occasions for growth and comfort to ourselves and to those around us. We will never achieve peace and serenity without God’s help and guidance.
Sometimes we become discouraged and lose sight of our progress. If this happens, we can compare our past to our present, and ask ourselves:
• Are we less isolated, and no longer afraid of people in authority?
• Have we stopped seeking approval from others, and accepted ourselves as we really are?
• Are we more selective of the people with whom we develop relationships, and more able to keep our own identity while in a relationship?
• Have we developed the ability to express our feelings?
• Have we stopped trying to dominate others?
• Are we no longer behaving childishly by turning friends or spouses into protective parents, and being too dependent?
• Have we become attentive to the needs of our inner child?
Affirmative answers show the extent of our progress toward a healthier and better way of living.
An important achievement in working the steps occurs when we become accustomed to “living” the steps. We do this by habitually taking a problem or concern through the steps, while acknowledging our need for God’s support and guidance. The result is peace and serenity, and a new confidence that we can deal directly with the problems. Any action we take is then guided by God’s will, and our honest appraisal of the consequences. We can act confidently, and without fear.
At this point, we begin to identify the many areas of our lives that are being affected by working the Twelve Steps. Our success with handling new problems is linked to our willingness to thoughtfully take action, while remembering to let go, and turn it over to God. Our faith grows as we learn to relinquish control, and allow God to be the director of our lives. The process is gradual, regenerative, and never-ending. We slowly become more “Higher Power Centered” as we learn the true meaning of God’s love, our surrender, and spiritual serenity.
Spiritual Awakening: The spiritual awakening that Step Twelve speaks of is a gradual change in the control of our lives. This change eventually produces a realization that we sincerely trust God, and can depend on Him. We also realize that this new trust and dependence brings peace and serenity that we have never experienced before. We come to Step Twelve with confidence that God can be trusted, miracles do happen, and prayer works.
Carrying the Message: In Step Twelve we are encouraged to carry the message of the Twelve Steps to others. If we have read The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, we realize that early program members always understood that they were carrying a spiritual message. The message we carry is that God can save us from our self-defeating behavior, our despair, our torment – God can save us from ourselves. We carry a spiritual message that only God is able to control our lives and heal us. We will live more productive and healthy lives if we yield to a Power greater than ourselves.