Principle behind Step 12 – Service
There are three parts to this Step. The first part is about having had a “spiritual awakening”, or “spiritual experience” as some may call it. I found this awakening to be a change in the way I thought, felt, and behaved. Something deep, down within me was changing. And as I look back this change for me it was not dramatic; rather, it was slow but progressive. My heart was opening up to the Light of the Spirit and I was beginning to feel the Light shine through me.
The second part of this step is about “carrying the message”. What is the message? The message is that there is recovery from compulsive overeating; and that recovery comes when you work the 12 Steps. The Big Book’s promise of recovery is quite clear and quite unconditional: “Assuming we are spiritually fit, we can do all sorts of things alcoholics are not supposed to do. People have said we must not go where liquor is served, we must not have it in our homes, we must shun friends who drink, we must avoid moving pictures which show drinking scenes; we must not go into bars; our friends must hide their bottles if we go to their houses; we mustn’t think or be reminded about alcohol at all. Our experience shows that this is not necessarily so. We meet these conditions every day. An alcoholic who cannot meet them, still has an alcoholic mind; there is something the matter with his spiritual status (pages 100-101) This is what we need to carry, this is what the COE wants to hear. There is no longer any fear. This is what distinguishes a Twelve-Step program from any other program that deals with addictions – the actual freedom to be around the addictive substance or behaviors and not want to indulge in it! And the Big Book gives us guidelines for going to places where there is eating. We ask ourselves if we have “any good social, business or personal reason for going to this place?” (pg. 101) If we do, then we attend to that reason. If we don’t, then we’re shaky and we’d better find another compulsive eater to talk to!
So, now as a recovered person, I am asked to carry the message of recovery to others. I do this by sharing me Experience, Strength and Hope at meetings. I do this by sponsoring other compulsive overeaters. And I do this by example. I can pass the message by being the message – If I am working the Steps, and living in recovery then I am the message. We find that carrying the message is a pleasure, it gives us a sense of purpose, a sense of direction and a sense of usefulness. All of which we need in our lives. It is important that we recover so we can carry the message.
The Big Book, on pg. 89 states, “Practical experience shows that nothing will so much insure immunity from drinking (COE) as intense work with other alcoholics (COE’ers). It works when other activities fail”. So in carrying the message, we are gifted with the promise of continued recovery. We must not forget, however, the Big Book’s statement on pg. 164, “you cannot transmit something you haven’t got.” It’s important that we recover in order to be ABLE to carry the message!
The principles behind the 12 Steps are: Honesty, Hope, Faith, Courage, Integrity, Willingness, Humility, Self-discipline, Love, Perseverance, Spiritual Awareness and Service. The third part of this step “Practice these principles in all our affairs”. Simple but not always easy. For me, sitting around a table at an OA meeting it was usually quite easy to “practice these principles” but going out into the world – being with co-workers, family and friends it was not so easy. Like anything else, the more I do it, the better I get at it. I am not perfect, I do not practice these principles perfectly BUT I do try to, and as time goes on I can easily tell when I am messing us. You know that funny feeling in the pit of your stomach, or that tiny voice that says “ uh oh”. That’s how I know. And now because of this spiritual awareness I want to practice these principles all the time; I want to carry the message. And in doing this I am joyous, happy and free. And that is my wish for each one of you. I believe that is you HP’s wish for you also.
Read in AA’s Big Book, chapter 7, Working with Others, pg. 89 to pg. 103.
Answer and share with Loop
1. You may be the only example of the program someone who still suffers ever meets. How do you impart your recovery?
2. What attributes do you feel are most important in being a sponsor? Are you willing to sponsor?
The Twelve Steps
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