Set Aside Prayer
How can I best serve Thee-
Thy will (not mine) be done."
Chapter seven in the Big Book, "Working With Others", gives us the part of Step Twelve that deals with ways to carry this message to other suffering addicts (COE). Although, in COE we don’t carry the message like AA’s do. We don’t go to an overweight person’s room in the hospital and talk to them about food addiction. It’s not something that the professionals see as a viable alternative. As a COE, I wanted to blame my weight and weight related physical troubles on everything else. Even Doctors no longer bring up food and diets like they once did. For most of us, we find sponsees in our meetings or online activities and this is enough; however, I think we could do more in the future.
If you really look at the last three Steps, you'll notice that the Tenth Step talks about, "continuing," the Eleventh Step talks about, "seeking and improving," and the Twelfth Step talks about "in all our affairs," so our Program leaves no room for complacency or coasting. And besides, the only way you can coast is down hill. The Steps are like walking up a down escalator. If you keep moving you can get to the next level, but if you slow down or stop moving, it brings you right back down to where you came from. I don't know about you, but I desperately do not want to go back to where I came from.
Now that we've made conscious contact with the God of our understanding, we have received that greatest gift of this program - a spiritual awakening. God is now guiding us in such a way that it is indeed miraculous. This life changing experience comes suddenly to some (as in a spiritual experience), and gradually to others (as in a spiritual awakening). Congratulations. You are now living in the "sunlight of the Spirit."
Why We Must Work With Others
After working steps 1-9, we’ve wiped away the wreckage of our past and have awakened our spiritual contact with God (sixth sense). In steps 10 and 11, we continue to remove our wreckage and grow our conscious contact with God. Step eleven ends with this in the Big Book, "We alcoholics are undisciplined. So we let God discipline us in the simple way we have just outlined."
The next sentence is the warning for not working step 12.
"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".
Without working with others and sharing our recovery with them we will lose our recovery. It is a serious warning, telling that 'faith without works is dead'. Those who don't take this warning seriously and don't work with others (which is called sponsoring) are headed for trouble.
We have to remember that the root of our illness is selfishness and self centeredness. The big book warned us that: "Above everything else, we alcoholics (food addicts) must be rid of this selfishness. We must, or it will kill us! God makes that possible. And there often seems no way of entirely getting rid of self without His help".
So we have to do our part which is working with others so that we open ourselves to receive God's help in the removal of our selfishness. Some people think that our program is selfish since by working the program we take care of ourselves. We have to understand that we have to take care of ourselves in order to be able to help others. We are the selfish ones not the program. It is stated in the Big Book that we are working towards being useful to him.
"At the moment we are trying to put our lives in order. But this is not an end in itself. Our real purpose is to fit ourselves to be of maximum service to God and the people about us."
This step tells us that the one and only result of working all the steps is having a spiritual awakening. This spiritual awakening is described from many different aspects in the Big Book. All the different promises that are written in the Big Book are actually descriptions of different aspects of a spiritual awakening. Here I will just quote from the appendix SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCE: "The terms 'spiritual experience' and 'spiritual awakening' are used many times in this book which upon careful reading, shows that the personality change sufficient to bring about recovery from alcoholism (food addiction) has manifested itself among us in many different forms."
Spiritual awakening is a recovery process that begins with the first step and grows and progresses to freedom from the obsession with food in step ten. But there is a lot more to it as experienced by the fulfillment of the different Big Book promises.
Working all the twelve steps brings about a spiritual awakening which manifests itself in our recovery from food addiction. This is accompanied by an entirely different attitude and action towards ourselves, God, and the people around us. We try to carry the message. We don't always succeed because recovery depends on the other person's willingness to work all the twelve steps.
Two Phases of Sponsorship
Each person must work their program to the best of their ability. The only guarantee we have as a sponsor is that a sponsee can get well if he depends on God more than he depends on his sponsor or anyone else. Our job as a sponsor is to help and guide our sponsee through the steps. As sponsors, we are not professionals and when we see that a sponsee needs help from a professional, we need to tell them so. We are not dieticians, counselors, etc…
As sponsors we take our sponsee where ever they are in the program. The criteria we emphasize is their willingness to work the steps. We offer what we know and help them through it. We are not to waste our time with people who are not willing to work the steps. This doesn’t mean that we can’t be friendly or helpful to them as this can set things up for a later time. We wouldn’t want to spoil later opportunities. It’s that when we sponsor, we cannot help those unwilling to work the steps.
Basically there are two phases of sponsorship. The first phase is teaching and helping our sponsee through the 12 steps the first time. The second part of sponsoring is helping someone who has already been through all the steps maintain their program by working steps ten and eleven with them daily. Which, in turn, is helping them work steps 1-9 in real time or as things come up for them. At this stage, we are sharing our experience strength and hope.
When teaching someone we need to refer to our literature. Some prefer to work solely out of the Big Book, others out of OA’s 12 & 12, and others a combination. However, when we do our teaching work, we need to be clear to our sponsees on working the steps. There are many distractions that can come up and steel the program away from them. For example, I was sponsoring one person who after going through step four, saw on TV another philosophy for loosing weight. She wanted to incorporate it. I said that I couldn’t incorporate it as I only know that working the steps is what has given me release from my obsessions. She dropped me and chose to work the other philosophy. This was ok with me as I don’t think that I have the only answer for everyone, because they may find another way (they may not be very alcoholic or actual compulsive overeaters). I can only share what I know works for me. In the Big Book it gives advice that we are to let the person pursue their own recovery. We don’t waste time sponsoring on those unwilling. We are always to be friendly and encouraging. This becomes much more attractive to those who need it, and this is a program based on attraction.
- Read the following pages and copy the sentences that describe the spiritual awakening or the spiritual experience. Remember that the promises are also a description of the spiritual awakening. Pages, xxvii (third edition), xxix (fourth edition), 14, 25, 27, 50-51, 56-57, 63 (promises), 75, 83-84 (promises), 84-85 (promises), 569-570 (third edition), 567-568 (fourth edition).
Share about your personal spiritual awakening.
- Read the chapter WORKING WITH OTHERS, copy the sentences that you think are relevant to sponsoring food addicts. Pay attention and copy the sentences that tell us the following. Why sponsor? Who can sponsor? What are the demands of the sponsee? How to sponsor? What to do and what not to do.
Summarize the sponsoring directions in your own words. If you have sponsored in the past or are sponsoring now, are you going to change anything in the way you sponsor?
- If you don't have sponsees now is the time to begin sponsoring. As the Big Book says on page 88 "There is action and more action.' Faith without works is dead'." We have to sponsor in order to stay in recovery.
Read the following and chapters.
THE FAMILY AFTERWARDS
A VISION FOR YOU.
Look for the sentences and examples that tell you how to practice the steps in all your affairs and copy them. You can also deduce how to behave with others from the advice given to the wives and the employers. Copy the relevant sentences and explain what you learn from them.
Give a short summary in your own words on how to practice the steps in all our affairs.
READINESS TO MOVE ON
At this point, we’re ready to help those through the steps as we’ve come through them.