STEP TWELVE, PART 1
My name is Shlomo and I am a food addict and compulsive overeater.
After beginning to practice steps 10 and 11 on a daily basis we may think we
are doing enough, but the Big Book tells us otherwise.
"But this is not all. There is action and more action. 'Faith without works
is dead.' The next chapter is entirely devoted to STEP TWELVE." page 88.
The next chapter is "WORKING WITH OTHERS" which I consider as my 'sponsor
First let us have a look at step 12.
"Having had a spiritual awakening as the
result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to
compulsive eaters, and to practice these principles in all our affairs."
There are three parts to this step.
The first part tells us that the ONLY result of working the first
11 steps is a spiritual awakening. We discussed the meaning of spiritual awakening in some of my previous posts but I think that doing it again will be beneficial.
So what is a spiritual awakening?
The simplest definition is given by the Big Book in appendix II:
" ... personality change sufficient to bring about recovery from
compulsive eating..." page 569 third edition, page 567 fourth edition.
So we are changed persons now, recovered from compulsive eating.
Seems simple doesn't it?
Let us expand it a bit. Let us see what the A.A. 12 & 12 has to
say about spiritual awakening.
"Our Twelfth Step also says that as a result of practicing all the Steps, we
have each found something called a spiritual awakening. To new A.A.'s [OA's] this
often seems like a very dubious and improbable state of affairs. 'What do you mean when you talk about a "spiritual awakening"?' they ask.
"Maybe there are as many definitions of spiritual awakening as there are
people who have had them. But certainly each genuine one has something in common with all the others. And these things which they have in common are not too hard to
understand. When a man or a woman has a spiritual awakening, the most important meaning of it is that he has now become able to do, feel, and believe that which he could not do before on his unaided strength and resources alone. He has been granted a
gift which amounts to a new state of consciousness and being. He has been set on a
path which tells him he is really going somewhere, that life is not a dead end, not
something to be endured or mastered. In a very real sense he has been transformed, because he has laid hold of a source of strength which, in one way or another, he had
hitherto denied himself. He finds himself in possession of a degree of honesty, tolerance,
unselfishness, peace of mind, and love of which he had thought himself quite
incapable. What he has received is a free gift, and yet usually, at least
in some small part, he has made himself ready to receive it.
"A.A.'s [OA's] manner of making ready to receive this gift lies in the
practice of the Twelve Steps in our program." pages 106-107.
This is a beautiful description of a spiritual awakening.
So we are changed persons now courtesy of the 11 steps we have taken so far.
We have now become able to do, feel, and believe that which we could not do
before on our unaided strength and resources alone.
Just to see what we accomplished, let us go over the steps briefly
together with the A.A. 12 & 12.
"Step One showed us an amazing paradox: We found that we were totally
unable to be rid of the food obsession until we first admitted that we were
powerless over it. In Step Two we saw that since we could not restore ourselves to sanity, some Higher Power must necessarily do so if we were to survive. Consequently, in Step
Three we turned our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him...
Beginning with Step Four, we commenced to search out the things in ourselves which had brought us to physical, moral, and spiritual bankruptcy. We made a searching and fearless moral inventory. Looking at Step Five, we decided that an inventory, taken alone, wouldn't be enough. We knew we would have to quit the deadly business of living alone with our conflicts, and in honesty confide these to God and another human being. At Step Six, many of us balked -- for the practical reason that we did not wish to have all our defects of character removed, because we still loved some of them too much. Yet we knew we had to make a settlement with the fundamental principle of Step Six. So we decided that while we still had some flaws of character that we could not yet relinquish, we ought nevertheless to quit our stubborn, rebellious hanging on to them. We said to ourselves, 'This I cannot do today, perhaps, but I can stop crying out "No, never!" ' Then, in Step Seven, we humbly asked God to remove our
shortcomings such as He could or would under the conditions of the day we
asked. In Step Eight, we continued our housecleaning, for we saw that we were not only
in conflict with ourselves, but also with people and situations in the world in which we
lived. We had to begin to make our peace, and so we listed the people we had harmed
and became willing to set things right. We followed this up in Step Nine by making
direct amends to those concerned, except when it would injure them or other people. By this time, at Step Ten, we had begun to get a basis for daily living, and we keenly realized
that we would need to continue taking personal inventory, and that when we were in the
wrong we ought to admit it promptly. In Step Eleven we saw that if a Higher Power had
restored us to sanity and had enabled us to live with some peace of mind in a sorely
troubled world, then such a Higher Power was worth knowing better, by as direct contact as possible. The persistent use of meditation and prayer, we found, did open the channel so that where there had been a trickle, there now was a river which led to sure power and
safe guidance as we were increasingly better able to understand Him.
"So, practicing these Steps, we had a spiritual awakening about which
finally there was no question." pages 107-109.
Just note that we have a spiritual awakening as the result of working the
steps and not as a result of all the other activities we do in OA like meetings, phone, etc.
I have only one answer to anyone who says that he has problems with food.
WORK the steps. This is the only remedy OA has to offer here; the rest are just delaying
temporary relief tactics.
Now let me mention the second part of step 12, which is about carrying the
message . It works better for me if I put this part after the third part which is
" ... to practice these principles in all our affairs." After I practice my
recovery in all the aspects of my life I am ready to lend a helping hand to those who
ask for it and are willing to work the steps. That is how it works for me. Otherwise I
become so busy trying to help others that I neglect to help myself.
So let me deal now with practicing these principles.
The OA 12 & 12 lists principles behind each step: step one-honesty, step
two-hope, step three-faith, step four-courage, step five-integrity, step
six-willingness, step 7-humility, step eight-self-discipline, step nine-love, step
ten-perseverance, step eleven-spiritual awareness, step 12-service, (pages 103-106).
But I think the meaning of the word "principles" in step twelve is much
simpler than that.
The AA 12 & 12 explains it quite clearly.
"A.A's twelve steps are a group of principles, spiritual in nature, which if
practiced as a way of life, can expel the obsession to drink [eat compulsively] and
enable the sufferer to become happy and usefully whole." page 15.
Simple isn't it? The steps are the principles.
So we have to practice the twelve steps in all our affairs, which means we
have to incorporate them in every area of our lives, or as the Big Book says:
"The spiritual life is not a theory, we have to live it." page 83.
For me the first place to practice living the program is at home with my
family. I tended to be more obnoxious at home since outside I usually put on my
outside manners mask. The next place is at work. Other places are shops, driving my car, etc. In all places and in all our affairs we have to conduct ourselves according to the program code of love and tolerance and it is not always easy.
Let us see what the A.A. 12 & 12 has to say about that.
"Now comes the biggest question yet. What about the practice of these
principles in ALL our affairs? Can we love the whole pattern of living as eagerly as
we do the small segment of it we discover when we try to help other alcoholics [compulsive eaters] achieve sobriety [abstinence]? Can we bring the same spirit of love and tolerance into our sometimes deranged family lives that we bring to our A.A. [O.A.] group? Can we have the same kind of confidence and faith in these people who have
been infected and sometimes crippled by our own illness that we have in our
sponsors? Can we actually carry the A.A. [OA] spirit into our daily work? Can we meet
our newly recognized responsibilities to the world at large? And can we
bring new purpose and devotion to the religion of our choice? Can we find a new joy
of living in trying to do something about all these things?
"Furthermore, how shall we come to terms with seeming failure or success?
Can we now accept and adjust to either without despair or pride? Can we accept
poverty, sickness, loneliness, and bereavement with courage and serenity? Can we
steadfastly content ourselves with the humbler, yet sometimes more durable,
satisfactions when the brighter, more glittering achievements are denied us?
"The A.A. [OA] answer to these questions about living is 'Yes, all of these
things are possible.' We know this because we see monotony, pain, and even calamity
turned to good use by those who keep on trying to practice A.A.'s [OA's] Twelve Steps.
And if these are facts of life for the many alcoholics [compulsive eaters]
who have recovered in A.A. [OA], they can become the facts of life for many more."
Now let us consider some warnings about resting on our laurels, that are
given in the A.A. 12 & 12. And how working all the 12 steps makes us grow and develops our recovery.
"Of course all A.A.'s [OA's], even the best, fall far short of such
achievements as a consistent thing. Without necessarily taking that first drink [bite], we
often get quite far off the beam. Our troubles sometimes begin with indifference. We are sober [abstinent] and happy in our A.A. [OA] work. Things go well at home and office. We naturally congratulate ourselves on what later proves to be a far too easy and superficial point of view. We temporarily cease
to grow because we feel satisfied that there is no need for ALL of A.A.'s
[OA's] Twelve Steps for us. We are doing fine on a few of them. Maybe we are doing fine on only two of them, the First Step and that part of the Twelfth where we 'carry the message.' In A.A. [OA] slang, that blissful state is known as 'two-stepping.' And it can go on for years.
"The best-intentioned of us can fall for the 'two-step' illusion. Sooner or
later the pink cloud stage wears off and things go disappointingly dull. We begin to
think that A.A. [OA] doesn't pay off after all. We become puzzled and discouraged.
"Then perhaps life, as it has a way of doing, suddenly hands us a great big
lump that we can't begin to swallow, let alone digest. We fail to get a worked-for
promotion. We lose that good job. Maybe there are serious domestic or romantic
difficulties, or perhaps someone we thought God was looking after becomes a military casualty.
"What then? Have we alcoholics [compulsive eaters] in A.A. [OA] got, or can
we get, the resources to meet these calamities which come to so many? These were problems of life which we could never face up to. Can we now, with the help of God as we understand Him, handle them as well and as bravely as our non-alcoholic ['normal'] friends often do? Can we transform these calamities into assets, sources of growth and comfort to ourselves and those about us? Well, we surely have a chance if we switch from 'two-stepping' to 'twelve-stepping,' if we are willing to receive that grace of God which can sustain and strengthen us in any catastrophe.
"Our basic troubles are the same as everyone else's, but when an honest
effort is made 'to practice these principles in all our affairs,' well-grounded A.A.'s
[OA's] seem to have the ability, by God's grace, to take these troubles in stride and turn them into demonstrations of faith. We have seen A.A.'s [OA's] suffer lingering and
fatal illness with little complaint, and often in good cheer. We have sometimes seen families broken apart by misunderstanding, tensions, or actual infidelity, who are reunited by the A.A. [OA] way of life...
"Like most people, we have found that we can take our big lumps as they
come. But also like others, we often discover a greater challenge in the lesser
and more continuous problems of life. Our answer is in still more spiritual
development. Only by this means can we improve our chances for really happy and useful living. And as we grow spiritually, we find that our old attitudes toward our instincts need to undergo drastic revisions. Our desires for emotional security and wealth, for personal prestige and power, for romance, and for family satisfactions -- all these have to be tempered and redirected. We have learned that the satisfaction of instincts cannot be the sole end and aim of our lives. If we place instincts first, we have got the cart before the horse; we shall be pulled backward into disillusionment. But when we are willing to place spiritual growth first -- then and only then do we have a real chance.
"After we come into A.A. [OA], if we go on growing, our attitudes and
actions toward security -- emotional security and financial security -- commence to change profoundly...
"As we made spiritual progress, ... it became clear
that if we ever were to feel emotionally secure among grown-up people, we
would have to put our lives on a give-and-take basis; we would have to develop the sense of being in partnership or kinship with all those around us. We saw that we would need to give constantly of ourselves without demands for repayment. When we persistently did this we gradually found that people were attracted to us as never before. And even if they failed us, we could be understanding and not too seriously affected.
"When we developed still more, we discovered the best possible source of
emotional stability, in fact, to be God Himself. We found that dependence
upon His perfect justice, 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.
These were the new attitudes that finally brought many of us an inner strength and peace
that could not be deeply shaken by the shortcomings of others or by any calamity not of our own making.
" ... For those of us who were like that, A.A. [OA] had a very special meaning.
Through it we begin to learn right relations with people who understand us;
we don't have to be alone any more.
" ... as time passed we found that with the help of A.A.'s Twelve Steps we
could lose those fears (fears of financial insecurity), no matter what our
material prospects were. We could cheerfully perform humble labor without worrying about tomorrow. If our circumstances happened to be good, we no longer dreaded a change for the worse, for we had learned that these
troubles could be turned into great values. It did not matter too much what
our material condition was, but it did matter what our spiritual condition was. Money
gradually became our servant and not our master. It became a means of exchanging love
and service with those about us. When, with God's help, we calmly accepted our
lot, then we found we could live at peace with ourselves and show others who still
suffered the same fears that they could get over them, too. We found that freedom from fear was more important than freedom from want...
" ... Understanding is the key to right principles and attitudes, and right
action is the key to good living; therefore the joy of good living is the theme of A.A.'s [OA's] Twelfth Step." pages 112-125.
INTO ACTION AND SHARING SUGGESTIONS:
1. Share your spiritual awakening with us.
2. Apply the recovery program to all areas of your life: home, work, driving
on the road, shopping, etc.
3. Share some examples of working the steps in all your affairs with us.
Especially applying the steps at home and at work.
Have a nice day.