The principle behind this step is SERVICE.
Well recovery friends you probably think that by the time you get to this point that youíre about to graduate. And of course youíd be wrong as we never really graduate from this program. Recovery is a journey and we need to keep working it in order to keep what recovery we already have. I love what this step says that we will have a spiritual awakening as THE result of working these steps, not just one of the results and for me that is what has really changed my life. I know now looking back that for all those years before program I was spiritually dead inside, so there was this huge hole in my soul that I used to think I could fill with food before I realised that only the God of my understanding can fill that emptiness. And only God can help me with my compulsive overeating because I certainly tried everything else before program and nothing changed my life, and certainly nothing ever helped the compulsive overeating.
The other important part of this step is carrying the message to other compulsive overeaters and I know when I share with a fellow compulsive overeater, it strengthens my program and reminds me where I came from and where I most definitely donít want to go back to. I know when I found this program there was something I found in that first meeting and I didnít quite know what it was at first. All those people in that first meeting spoke my language, but more importantly they shared their experience, strength and hope with me rather than merely giving me a food plan and telling me what to do like in all the other diets or diet clubs Iíd ever tried. There was also something in the faces of those people at my first meeting that I saw, and I know now it was hope which of course is one of the twelve step principles, and hope of recovery was what kept me coming back all these years.
By the same token I try and do the same for members who are newer in the program than I am. What Iíve always loved about this program is that we never prescribe or dictate how others work their program; we merely share what has worked for us and let people take what they like and leave the rest. For me that has been a really empowering aspect of this program. Also I know when I give service whether itís merely sharing at meetings or sponsoring or leading meetings; I get back as much if not more than I give. I know one member described what service in OA meant and that was we are giving to others from a vantage point of abundance rather than from emptiness. Another saying Iíve heard in the rooms is that service is slimming, because when Iím focussing on others in the program I donít have time to obsess about or eat excess food.
Of course the other important aspect of step twelve is that we still need to practice the principles of the program in all our affairs if we hope to keep the recovery we have. What are those principles?
Step One is Honesty; Step Two is Hope; Step Three is Faith; Step Four is Courage; Step Five is Integrity; Step Six is Willingness; Step Seven is Humility; Step Eight is Self Discipline; Step Nine is Brotherly love; Step Ten is Perseverance; Step Eleven is Spirituality and Step Twelve is Service.
If we apply these principles to every aspect of our lives we cannot fail to recover. I know if Iím not honest with my food and if I screw up, thereís always hope especially if I have faith and am willing to keep trusting in my Higher Power. I also need to maintain daily contact with my Higher Power in order to keep the recovery that I have and I also need to ensure that I always keep my side of the street clean at all times. Of course I donít always get it right but I know for me that the big difference today is that I now have awareness which I didnít have before. So when I do screw up or am not totally honest, I realise it and am able to rectify it and change the way I behave, and that helps me not give into my default setting which is run to the food. Thank goodness for the fact that I have kept coming back no matter what, and I try and work my program to the best of my ability because it works if you work it. I also try and give back what I have so generously been given because that for me is the essence of step twelve.
In the OA 12 & 12 it expresses beautifully what for me is the essence of step twelve is in particular the spiritual awakening and carrying the message where it says:
ďWe who began working the Steps in order to recover from compulsive eating now find that through them we have embarked on a lifelong journey of spiritual growth. From the isolation of food obsession we have emerged into a new world. Walking hand in hand with our friends and our Higher Power, we are now exploring this world, using the great spiritual principles embodied in the twelve steps as a map to guide our way. We gratefully follow in the footsteps of many others who have walked this way before us, and weíre gratified to be making footprints of our own for others to follow.
ďThose of us who live this program donít simply carry the message, we are the message. Each day that we live well, we are well, and we embody the joy of recovery which attracts others who want what weíve found in OA. Weíre always happy to share our secret: the twelve steps of Overeaters Anonymous, which empower each of us to live well and be well, one day at a time.Ē p106
ASSIGNMENT AND QUESTIONS ON STEP TWELVE
Read step twelve in the OA 12 &12 or the chapter on Working with others (p.89-103) in the Big Book and answer the following questions.
1. How do you know you have had a spiritual awakening?
2. How has working the 12 steps helped you with overcoming fear, control and obsession?
3. Why do we never graduate from working the 12 steps?
4. What is the message you want to carry to other compulsive overeaters?
5. Are there areas where you are currently giving service in the program? If so how has it helped your recovery?
6. If you havenít done much service, either at the meeting, or by sponsoring, what is holding you back?
7. How have you used any of the twelve step principles in your life? How has it changed your life and your abstinence?
8. Are you ready to sponsor? Do you feel you have enough ESH to give a newcomer or someone who is still struggling?
TWELFTH STEP PRAYER: Dear God, My spiritual awakening continues to unfold. The help I have received I shall pass on and give to others, both in and out of the fellowship. For this opportunity I am grateful. I pray most humbly to continue walking day by day on the road of spiritual progress. I pray for inner strength and wisdom to practice the principles of this way of life in all I do and say. I need You, my friends, and the Program every hour of every day. This is a better way to live.
The Twelve Steps