Hi, I'm Tami, gratefully recovering COE and your Step Study Leader this Quarter. Working Step Eleven has helped me to discover the "more" in my recovery journey. I've found more serenity, more peace; but most of all more freedom.
I can remember a time in my life when I was very young, a small child in fact, that I talked to God all the time. I don't know when I stopped doing this or when I lost touch with this childlike faith in my Higher Power. One of the joys of my recovery journey was to read Step Two and the promise that we could be restored to sanity. If sanity is to be consciously connected to God, without doubt, then I am being restored now in my recovery journey to that childlike faith that believed because it was unthinkable to not believe. I knew what I knew, and I had a very acute sense of God's presence in my life. What came so freely and easily then, I must work at now. But, thankfully, I have the Twelve Steps to guide my path, and it becomes easier with practice and time.
Step Eleven reminds me to be a seeker of God's will for my life. How do I do this? Many old timers speak of prayer as just talking to God as you would a close friend that you trust. This step further explains it as God as we understood Him. So, I just talk to HP in prayer. There are days I talk and talk. And other days when only a little, and I do more listening. This quiet contemplation is mentioned as meditation. When my thoughts are directed toward God and seeking to just focus on my HP, then I am at peace. When I forget, I flounder in my program. I become easily upset, easily stressed, and my defects will begin to rear their lovely little heads and appear in my behavior, thinking and attitudes once more.
I began from the very beginning of my recovery to turn toward God and to consult my HP when I had problems or cravings. The results were so amazing, that I began to do this more and more, bringing the joys, successes and triumphs to my HP, too, because we were friends. Often I was moved to tears with a holy awe, unable to express my feelings but just in awe in the company of my HP. I began to share more than my problems, but my feelings and my concerns, and my questions also over time. Sometimes, I made mistakes, but I never felt recriminations or criticism from my HP, just love, acceptance and understanding.
As I've continued to pray by talking to my HIgher Power, I have come to see that every good and healthy relationship also includes listening. Veterans to recovery had told me that meditation was listening to God. Both are needed. Both are listed in this step. Using one without the other is to become unbalanced, off beam, and therefore is not desirable. It takes both to be able to improve our conscious contact with our HP. When I pray I am to ask for the knowledge of my HP's will and then the power to carry that out. This step reminds me to ask, and then it will be given to me. It does not come automatic, but upon request.
This step also suggests to me that I am to pray for God's will for me, only. Yes, I can pray for my loved ones and others, but I am to leave the results in God's hands. I am to focus on God's will for me, and be alert and aware of the nudges and promptings from my HP to be carried out in Good Orderly Direction. I used to think that determining God's will was difficult and hard work. It was when I was addicted and the food and all my defects were clogging up my connection to my HP. It is in working the steps that much of the distractions in my life are dealt with in a spiritual and orderly way that includes my HP in that process and in which I learn to listen to that quiet voice that leads me in the way I should go.
I've learned my HP gets my attention in ways that I understand, but as I am patient and actively looking for the leading in my intuition. There is no passivity in this waiting, it takes discipline to do it patiently and with an alert faith in the divine timing and methods of how my HP leads me best. I've learned that doing the will of God in my life is as simple as being mindful of including God in my decisions, my thoughts and being aware that nothing can separate me from my HP. I continue to work the steps and do my daily inventory to keep my own channels of connection clear and free of distractions, defects and dishonesty. I trust that as I include God in my life in an ever deepening level, that I will be lead by each decision, each day into my HP's will for me, one day at a time. I will be lead by baby steps to what is that purpose. All I must concern myself with is this moment now, one decision, one task, one day at a time.
In meditation, I have found my mind being expanded as I am ready for more enlightenment bit by bit. It is a slow unfolding as I continue to live by the actions and principles suggested in the Twelve Steps. It is through prayer and meditation I am able to stop worrying about tomorrow, regretting yesterday and to live fully awake in the present moment.
I am lead gently most of the time, and at a pace that is slower than what the hurry and flurry of the world dictates to me. God's will as it unfolds to me and I begin to understand produces peace and a calmness to me. It resonates truth to all of me, especially when it is to do something that I would rather not do in my self-will. My self will usually involves escaping responsibility, avoiding facing the truth, and rationalizing and justifying. Usually, I end up in denial, and I feel worse about myself. When God's will becomes evident to me I feel an infusion of strength and courage, even when my knees are knocking. There is a knowing that you know that goes down to your toes. Doing God's will makes me a better person, because it taps the divine part of me that connects to the Power of the Universe. And when that works, there is such harmony between the physical, emotional and spiritual. Doing God's will makes me a "more" courageous person, "more" honest, with integrity and balance.
The AABB includes good instruction for prayer and meditation. "In thinking about our day we may face indecision. We may not be able to determine which course to take. Here we ask God for inspiration, an intuitive thought or a decision. We relax and take it easy. We don't struggle. We are often surprised how the right answers come after we have tried this for awhile. What used to be the hunch or the occaisonal inspiration gradually become a working part of the mind.....Never- theless, we find that our thinking will, as time passes, be more and more on the plane of inspiration. We come to rely on it." (AABB, Chapter "Into Action", Paragraph 45.)
When there are problems and we are not sure what to do, the AA BB also gives this suggestion in Paragraph 49: "As we go through the day we pause, when agitated or doubtful, and ask for the right thought or action. We constantly remind ourselves we are no longer running the show, humbly saying to ourselves many times each day "Thy will be done." We are then in much less danger of excitement, fear, anger, worry, self-pity, or foolish decisions. We become much more efficient. We do not tire so easily, for we are not burning up energy foolishly as we did when we were trying to arrange life to suit ourselves."
One of the slogans of program that is burned into my mind is Reliance, not defiance. This short slogan effectively turns my mind back to relying on God for my power and not my own ways or power. This step makes me a Seeker and not longer a believer only. I am actively seeking and practicing the Steps to live out the suggestions of the Twelve Steps.
How would we sum up the first Eleven Steps so far? I turn once more to the AABB for the answer in Paragraph 51: "We alcoholics (COES) are undisciplined. So we let God discipline us in the simple way we have just outlined." The more we practice the twelve steps and live them the best we can (not perfect), the more our lives work in a sane and healthy manner.
The Twelve Steps bring freedom to our lives. We are each free to define our Higher Power in the way that is comfortable and that works for us individually. We are also free to pray and meditate in ways that work for us, too. The only way we can fail at this is if we don't do it at all. The ways in which I used in the beginning have evolved into different practices that serve me now. I expect this will continue to evolve and change as I continue to grow and change, also. We work this with honesty, willingness and honesty. With those three things, plus our HP we cannot fail.
Next week we will study Step Twelve and finish this quarter's study.
Blessings in your recovery,
WTS Step Study Leader
STEP ELEVEN ~ QUESTIONS
1) In what ways does Step 11 challenge me?
2) In what ways do I actively seek to improve my relationship with my
3) What does meditation offer me?
4) How does time spent in prayer and meditation affect me?
5) Please share how you work this step.
WTS Step Study Leader