Hello again! Are you amazed? We are halfway through! This is a 12 week step study, and we've already gone through the 9th step and received those wonderful promises. Isn't that amazing? And in only six weeks. As I stated early in our study, the majority of our work will be on step twelve. I love steps ten through twelve. They are the living part of our program. The first nine steps pave the path for a new way of life.
Some of you wrote for a copy of my tenth step. I hope that it is going well for you, that daily inventory. There is no wrong way to do a tenth step. What is beautiful about the tenth step is the new daily discipline you are doing, to replace the daily relationship you once had with food. I hope that you've been able to stay abstinent while taking this step study. It gives me the clarity to really have my step work 'sink in' and become a part of who I am. I wish that for you too.
That's a good point to make. I don't compartmentalize my life. I'm an abstinent woman and that's just part of how I live my life today. I don't 'squeeze in' my recovery. It's a part of my day. Here's how I typically start my day:
Get up, pray on my knees and ask God to keep me abstinent today. Next, I have quiet time, reflecting on my day, with a cup of coffee. If you'll turn to page 86 in your big book, this goes in line with the directions on that page, starting with "On awakening". It says right there to consider our plans for the day and to ask God to direct our thinking. These pages, I consider to be the 'reader's digest of the big book, pages 86 through 88 - complete instructions on how to live our lives.
Oh, and I do pray on my knees - it is a posture of humility for me. No one knows what this should look like for you, but you! If you want to develop the discipline of praying on your knees, here's some tips on how to remember to get down on your knees. Put your slippers under the bed or some other necessity so that you need to get down there to pick it up, a gentle reminder of prayer on knees. Or you might want to find a nice kneel pillow. There's no rule about how to pray, I'm only sharing my experience with you. Some people pray in bed, before they even get up. There's no wrong way to pray.
If you will remember, last week we used these same pages to do our tenth step, as they are great questions to review our day. But now, let's look at them again and see how we can apply them in the eleventh step process.
"Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out."
The prayer part is where we ask for help and the meditation part is where we quietly listen for direction. If I pray without meditation, it's like asking someone for help and not waiting for the answer. How many years did I do that? Oh, and look, there's that word POWER again! Remember in the first three steps, we admitted we were powerless, thought that maybe there might just be a power greater than us and greater than food to restore our sanity and in step three, we get that power. Now, we ask for power for our life in our eleventh step.
The prayer part is first. I want to share this from the AA 12x12, on the eleventh step. It is often referred to as the eleventh step prayer:
Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury,pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen
Isn't that beautiful? And it is so in line with what we are trying to do with the life changing twelve step process. This prayer asks God to replace our character defects of hatred, injury, doubt, darkness and sadness with love, pardon, faith, hope, light and joy. The old self dies and is replaced with an eternal life. Wow.
You can really pray any way that works for you. I just wanted to share this beautiful prayer with you. I love it and say it every day. And it becomes part of me. My feelings get hurt less often. I just pardon others, knowing now that the world really wasn't out to get me all the time. This is the step where I gave up being a victim, a director, an actor, a big know-it-all. I really got some humility.
Oh and look what else it says on page 86, we have brains to use! The more I use prayer in my life, the more my thought-life is placed on a higher plane; I give up my self centered motives!
I'll tell you a funny story about these pages. I was very early in my recovery, whining to an old timer about how awful my life was. She suggested I go home and read this section of the big book. I was amazed. I started reading them every day and my life started to change. I looked for opportunities to help others. When I felt indecision, I stopped and asked God for help. I became inspired! I wasn't struggling so often. Oh, and I got directions on what to do when I was agitated - Pause! Wow! My olld method when agitated was to plow, not pause! I ran right over the top of people all the time, whipping out my old blame thrower and blasting them right into the next kingdom! I was so grateful to that woman for showing me these pages.
Years later, I thanked her for sharing that with me. She looked at me like I was nuts and said that she never directed me to page 86, no she directed me to page 76 with the 7th step prayer! Oh my! We both laughed and agreed that God sure gave me what I needed, eh?
Meditation is hard for me, to actually sit still. I still am not one of those people who can spend long periods of time in quiet meditation. My quiet times are usually about five to ten minutes. Your mileage will also vary. But use whatever tools you need to create your quiet time. Whether it is music, silence, reading meditation books and reflecting … there is no wrong way to meditate. I truly hope you develop this step process for a long term beautiful relationship with God. Remember, prayer is where we ask for His help and meditation is when we listen.
On the top of page 88, we see the 11th step promises - aren't they beautiful? We have less fear, annger, worry and excitement. We become efficient, make less foolish decisions and don't burn up our energy. Amazing! And then that wonderful promise, "It works â€“ it really does!" And I'm here to tell you that it does work. It really does!
Here are some questions for you to consider as you take the eleventh step:
Is your third step firmly in place to where you have a beautiful, personal God of your understanding, with which you feel connected to through prayer?
How will you meditate?
The dictionary describes agitation as to excite and often trouble the mind or feelings. Notice, even excitement can agitate! What does 'when agitated' mean for you?
How will you recognize agitation so you can pause?
How do you pray?
How do you meditate?
Well, that ought to keep you busy for this week! I'm so excited for you all, to be in these maintenance steps now, and to really get what the steps offer us, a new way of living. Don't forget to keep your abstinence first, okay? Absoulutely.