A life set free from all addictions by the Lord is a beautiful sight to behold. When I practice these principles and share my experiences, people will see the glory of God in my life and gain hope--We know from experience the depths of suffering, affliction, and brokenness. I know the pain of being enslaved to my passions and blinded by my denial I have endured my seasons of grieving. I can relate to those who struggle to be free. I also know that there is more to life than bondage. In Christ are healing and freedom, clarity and mercy, beauty and joy.
This mission has been passed on to me. Some people talk about “preaching the gospel” but may alienate those who need the Good News the most. I am in a unique position to share my experiences, my strengths, and my hope in a way that broken people can understand and receive it.
I have valuable story to tell. I may be shy and feel awkward about speaking. I may think that what I have to share is too trivial. It is actually going to help anyone else? I may struggle to get beyond the shame of my past experiences. But my recovery story can help others I am trapped back where I was. I am willing to allow God to use me to help free others.
Within each personal journey from bondage to freedom is a microcosm of the gospel. When people hear our story, even if it seems trivial, I am offering them the chance to loosen their chains and begin my recovery.
Since I have worked through the Twelve Steps, I am in a special position to carry the message to others. I can recognize the warning signs of addictive/compulsive tendencies in those around us, as well as in ourself. When touching on such deep and sensitive issues, it is important to speak in the language of love, not condemnation.
I am not the Savior, but I can love others as he have loved me. Love goes beyond mere words. Sometimes it is spoken in silence, when I don’t condemn someone who comes to me looking for help. Love doesn’t just tell them what the problems are. It helps carry the weight of my burdens. I can be part of a support network to help carry my friends until they are able to take steps toward recovery on their own initiative.
I may be so excited about what God has done for me that I want to rush right out and tell everyone my story. Or I may be very shy and hesitate to tell people especially if I think they are better than I am I have a valuable story to tell; I just need to discover the best way to communicate it.
When I realize everything I have gained by following the Twelve Steps, it will be natural to want to share this life-giving message with others. If I think back to the time before I entered recovery, I will probably recall that I didn’t respond very well to “preaching”. Yet I also realize that there are people in my life who could be helped by my message. That is why I need to communicate my story, but do it with sensitivity.
When I practice the principles of the Twelve Steps, others will be watching and notice the changes. This will open the doors for me to share my story.
Every addict is a precious lost soul whom God loves and wants to rescue.
As I got further along in recovery, the memory of how bad only life really was may begin to fade: Do I vividly remember what I once was? Can I humbly recall the dark emotions that filled my soul? Do I have true compassion and genuine sympathy for those to whom I try to carry the message?
When I take the message of recovery to others, I must never forget where I came from and how I got where I am.
As I share my message, let me never forget the following truths: I was once a slave, just as others are today. My heart was filled with the confusion and painful emotions that others still feel. I am saved because of the love and kindness of God not because I am good enough. I must also remember that I can stay free because God is with me, upholding me every step of the way.
I probably came into recovery because I’d had enough! I’d have enough of the pain, the lies and the destruction that resulted from my addictive behavior. One day at a time, I learned the principles on the road to recovery. Now, I am at a place I wasn’t sure I could ever each--Step Twelve. Now I am encouraged to share the message with others--even though not everyone will welcome it.
My message won’t be accepted by the masses. The people on the “highway to hell” won’t eagerly restrict themselves to the clearly defined steps on the road to recovery. But for those who do listen, my story could be the difference between life and death for them.
STEP TWELVE: “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry the message to compulsive overeaters and to practice these principles in all our affairs.”
SPIRITUAL PRINCIPLE: “Service”
Service: the action of this part of Step Twelve.
AA BIG BOOK (p. 89-102)
OA 12 STEPS AND 12 TRADITIONS (p. 99-106)
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 the 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.
I would like to thank Lawrie Cherniack for his WTS Study on the AA Big Book printed on May 6, 2008
AA BIG BOOK
The Big Book expresses this last though very clearly. The beginning of Chapter 7, devoted entirely to Step Twelve, says at page 89:
“Practical experience shows that nothing will so much insure immunity from compulsive eating as intensive work with other compulsive overeaters. It works when other activities fail.”
Chapter 7 is basically a manual on how to do our job. Our job description is actually found on page 102: “Your job now is to be at the place where you may be maximum helpfulness to others.”
We are disabled people. Other--”normal”--people don’t have to do what we have to do. They don’t have addiction problems. They can spend their spare time doing things they want to do for their own comfort and enjoyment.
But we cannot afford to do that. If we don’t help others, we will relapse. We will go back to eating and if we go back to eating, we will surely die. If you don’t believe that by now, go back and think about Step One!
Dr. Bob says something else. He says it’s a pleasure. He’s right! We find that carrying the message gives us a sense of purpose, a sense of direction, and a sense of usefulness, all of which we need in our lives.
Some Step Twelve Promises:
Life will take on new meaning. To watch loneliness vanish, to see a fellowship grow up about you, to have a host of friends--this is an experience you must not miss. (page 89)
Follow the dictates of a Higher Power and you will presently live in a new and wonderful world, no matter what your present circumstances! (page 100).
It is the giving that is important, not how well the recipient is receiving the message.
And the most awful things that have happened to us or that we may have done to others now become a means of carrying the message of recovery to those who still suffer. One of the Promises is that “we will see how our experiences can benefit others.” And a page 124, the Big Book says
Showing others who suffer how we were given help is the very thing which makes life seem so worthwhile now. Cling to the thought that, in God’s hands, the dark past is the greatest possession you have--the key to life and happiness for others. With it you can avert death and misery for them.
Meaning has now been given to our suffering or to the harms we’ve done others. We are different from what we used to be. The suffering we have undergone, or the harm we have done, were things that happened to someone we used to be, not us.
We have the ability to say to those who still suffer that recovery is around the corner for them, that they can overcome whatever hands the past has dealt them!
We must not forget however, the Big Book’s statement on page 164: “You cannot transmit something you haven’t got.” It is important that we recover in order to be ABLE to carry the message!
How to carry the message the Big Book way:
The first meeting (91-95)
Tell your eating stories in such a way that the other person understands. Then describe yourself as a compulsive eater. Then talk about “how you finally learned that you were sick.” (92) Ultimately, talk explicitly about the allergy (physical cravings) of the body and obsession of the mind. Then “begin to dwell on the hopeless feature of the malady.” (92) Then tell that person about the steps and how they worked for you.
The Big Book talks about how to deal with the Higher Power issue with both agnostics and religious people on page 93. It’s pretty blunt stuff.
For the agnostics you tell them that’s no problem--it’s their own conception of a higher power.
For the religious people you tell them that their religion certainly hasn’t help them at all, and they’d better remember that “faith without works is dead.” And you go into detail about the inventory.
Here are some very important words on page 94:
Outline the program of action, explaining how you made a self-appraisal how you straightened out your past and why you are now endeavoring to be helpful to him. It is important for him to realize that your attempt to pass this on to him plays a vital part in your own recovery. Actually, he may be helping you more than you are helping him.
OA TWELVE STEPS AND 12 TRADITIONS
A message of hope to carry to other compulsive overeaters, as we have worked the first eleven steps. To trust a Higher Power, we have learned a new set of skills for living, skills which enable us to clear from our lives everything which might interfere.
We no longer have to live in fear, rather we have a way to treat each situation squarely and sanely. We are no longer afraid of food, nor controlled by it. The obsession has been lifted. We can find comfort and help from the Steps instead of compulsive eating.
The twelfth step invites us to continue the journey one day at a time for the rest of our lives. We need to keep moving forward in recovery, keep developing our spiritual consciousness, if we are to remain spiritually awake and fully alive.
The most of compulsive overeaters who still suffer will be unable to keep the recovery we have unless we share our experience, strength, and hope with others. Some of us have tried to follow our program in isolation and have been unable to keep our emotional balance and our abstinence. The greatest joy of recovery comes to us when we share our OA program with others. It sustains us through good and hard times.
Service in OA has been a surprisingly powerful factor in our recovery. Simple actions which seemed unimportant when we took them have turned out to have profound effects on us and on others.
Talking about OA with those who still suffer has become an increasingly natural thing for us to do. Sometimes because of the changes in our bodies and sometimes because of the changes in our attitudes, it becomes easier and easier to mention our involvement in OA.
We usually ask God to help us in talking about the program with those outside OA. We can relax and speak honestly without worrying that we
might not say the right thing.
We’ve found that service has worked out best for us when we had no expectations regarding the outcome. God finds many ways to help people through us as long as we are willing to what we can, when we can, and keep ourselves on the path of spiritual progress.
The twelfth step suggests that we continue to practice our new way of acting upon life “in all our affairs,” the vast experience of recovering compulsive overeaters confirms the importance of this suggestion. In step twelve we confirm that we have turned our backs on the old ways forever. We are moving in a new direction of spiritual growth.
The principles in each step that we are encouraged to practice are: honesty, hope, faith, courage, integrity, willingness, humility, self-discipline, love, perseverance, spiritual awareness and service.
Those of us who live this program don’t simply carry the message; WE ARE THE MESSAGE.
NOW YOUR PART:
QUESTIONS FOR STEP TWELVE:
How have I passed through pain and despair of enslavement to addiction and moved into healing and freedom?
Am I connected to the vine? How do the Twelve Steps help me to “abide” in him?
What is my attitude about sharing my story of recovery: Am I reluctant to tell my story, or am I the type that wants to share too much, too soon, with too many people.
Am I able to let the other person make his or her own decision by relinquishing control and letting God do his work?
Does the approval or judgment of others keep me from sharing recovery? Do I fear negative rumors?
What have I learned from Step Twelve?
The Twelve Steps
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