A.A. is more than a set of principles; it is a society of alcoholics in action. We must carry the message, else we ourselves can wither and those who haven’t been given the truth may die.
I desperately wanted to live, but if I was to succeed, I had to become active in our God-given program. I joined what became my group, where I opened the hall, made coffee, and cleaned up. I had been sober about three months when an oldtimer told me I was doing Twelfth-Step work. What a satisfying realization that was! I felt I was really accomplishing something. God had given me a second chance, A.A. had shown me the way, and these gifts were not only free-they were also priceless! Now the joy of seeing newcomers grow reminds me of where I have come from, where I am now, and the limitless possibilities that lie ahead. I need to attend meetings because they recharge my batteries so that I have light when it’s needed. I’m still a beginner in service work, but already I am receiving more than I’m giving. I can’t keep it unless I give it away. I am responsible when another reaches out for help. I want to be there-sober.
He has been granted a gift which amounts to a new state of consciousness and being.
Many of us in A.A. puzzle over what is a spiritual awakening. I tended to look for a miracle, something dramatic and earth-shattering. But what usually happens is that a sense of well-being, a feeling of peace, transforms us into a new level of awareness. That’s what happened to me. My insanity and inner turmoil disappeared and I entered into a new dimension of hope, love and peace. I think the degree to which I continue to experience this new dimension is in direct proportion to the sincerity, depth and devotion with which I practice the Twelve Steps of A.A.
When we developed still more, we discovered the best possible source of emotional stability to be God Himself. We found that dependence upon His perfect jus tice, forgiveness, and love was healthy, and that it would work where nothing else would. If we really depended upon God, we couldn’t very well play God to our fellows nor would we feel the urge wholly to rely on human protection and care.
It has been my experience that, when all human resources appear to have failed, there is always One who will never desert me. Moreover, He is always there to share my joy, to steer me down the right path, and to confide in when no one else will do. While my well-being and happiness can be added to, or diminished, by human efforts, only God can provide the loving nourishment upon which I depend for my daily spiritual health.
True ambition is not what we thought it was. True ambition is the deep desire to live usefully and walk humbly under the grace of God.
During my drinking years, my one and only concern was to have my fellow man think highly of me. My ambition in everything I did was to have the power to be at the top. My inner self kept telling me something else but I couldn’t accept it. I didn’t even allow myself to realize that I wore a mask continually. Finally, when the mask came off and I cried out to the only God I could conceive, the Fellowship of A.A., my group and the Twelve Steps were there. I learned how to change resentments into acceptance, fear into hope and anger into love. I have learned also, through loving without undue expectations, through sharing my concerns and caring for my fellow man, that each day can be joyous and fruitful. I begin and end my day with thanks to God, who has so generously shed His grace on me.
Life will take on new meaning. To watch people recover, to see them help others, to watch loneliness vanish, to see a fellowship grow up about you, to have a host of friends-this is an experience you must not miss. . . . Frequent contact with newcomers and with each other is the bright spot of our lives.
It is through service that the greatest rewards are to be found. But to be in a position of offering true, useful and effective service to others, I must first work on myself. This means that I have to abandon myself to God, admitting my faults and clearing away the wreckage of my past. Work on myself has taught me how to find the necessary peace and serenity to successfully merge inspiration and experience. I have learned how to be, in the truest sense, an open channel of sobriety.
When the Twelfth Step is seen in its full implication, it is really talking about the kind of love that has no price tag on it.
In order for me to start working the Twelfth Step, I had to work on sincerity, and honesty, and to learn to act with humility. Carrying the message is a gift of myself, no matter how many years of sobriety I may have accumulated. My dreams can become reality. I solidify my sobriety by sharing what I have received freely. As I look back to that time when I began my recovery, there was already a seed of hope that I could help another drunk pull himself out of his alcoholic mire. My wish to help another drunk is the key to my spiritual health. But I never forget that God acts through me. I am only His instrument.
Even if the other person is not ready, there is success, because my effort in his behalf has helped me to remain sober and to become stronger. To act, to never grow weary in my Twelfth Step work, is the key. If I am capable of laughing today, let me not forget those days when I cried. God reminds me that I can feel compassion!
Now, what about the rest of the Twelfth Step? The wonderful energy it releases and the eager action by which it carries our message to the next suffering alcoholic and which finally translates the Twelve Steps into action upon all our affairs is the payoff, the magnificent reality, of Alcoholics Anonymous.
To renounce the alcoholic world is not to abandon it, but to act upon principles I have come to love and cherish, and to restore in others who still suffer the serenity I have come to know. When I am truly committed to this purpose, it matters little what clothes I wear or how I make a living. My task is to carry the message, and to lead by example, not de sign.
. . . we are actually to practice a genuine humility. This is to the end that our great blessings may never spoil us; that we shall forever live in thankful contemplation of Him who presides over us all.
Experience has taught me that my alcoholic personality tends to be grandiose. While having seemingly good intentions, I can go off on tangents in pursuit of my “causes.” My ego takes over and I lose sight of my primary purpose. I may even take credit for God’s handiwork in my life. Such an overstated feeling of my own importance is dangerous to my sobriety and could cause great harm to A.A. as a whole.
My safeguard, the Twelfth Tradition, serves to keep me humble. I realize, both as an individual and as a member of the Fellowship, that I cannot boast of my accomplishments, and that “God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.”