Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to addicts and to practice these principles in our affairs.
It has been a long journey. A woman in a therapy group at a treatment center once told me that the 12-Step process applies to anyone wanting to be a better human being. Having not thought of that myself, I was very grateful at the time that someone who had gone down such a bumpy road, whose life was in shambles, could recognize the benefit of just being a better person.
So much of the 12-Step is outward focused, as we learn to look at the world in an entirely different light, reaching out to others to try to understand them… where they’re at and make our own personal adjustments for the sake of establishing or repairing a relationship. Having come through the process, who better to carry the message than an addict?
The Light At the End of the Long Tunnel
For me the true beauty of the AA program (and others like it) is that it was written by hopeless drunks, who by the grace of God have walked through the addiction tunnel and back out into the light.
We do not want to glorify addiction, as all too often it cuts off life at an early age, ruins lives of people around the addict and nothing good comes of it. But to the one who has overcome, to the one who has been transformed, we give encouragement and praise. The one who has suffered is best suited to tell the story of suffering. The one who has lost relationships is the best teller of how addictive behavior destroyed those relationships. The one who has had a spiritual awakening can best understand one who has not.
Learning to Help Others
Again the Big Book explains this so well at the beginning of Chapter 7. “Practical experience shows that nothing will so much insure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics. It works when other activities fail.” It goes on to say, Life will take on new meaning. To watch people recover, to see them help others, 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.”
We all have experiences, negative and positive. So many people live their lives believing that nothing has meaning for them, or perhaps they have been left on the side of the road while others march forward. There is great meaning in overcoming. Your experience has value and meaning.
To use that experience unselfishly, for the betterment of a fellow addict, is the highest kind of calling for a human being. Having put your trust and faith in God to get this far, you can continue in that vein and trust Him to use you to reach out to someone else. Perhaps this is like some sort of addiction recovery evangelism many people see step 12 that way, and like someone who has quit smoking the recovering addict may have a tendency to come on a little strong.
But you can get involved and work with people. Therapists and pastors, as it is suggested in Chapter 7, can surely use help and will be an excellent source of training for addicts who want to reach out. Page 89 ends with some excellent advice—“So cooperate, never criticize. To be helpful is our only aim.”
More Words of Wisdom
Consider the words of Psalm 96, as you ponder your new place in the world working to help fellow addicts:
“Sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth. Sing to the LORD, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples. For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the LORD made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and glory are in his sanctuary. Ascribe to the LORD, O families of nations, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering and come into his courts.
Worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness; tremble before him, all the earth. Say among the nations, "The LORD reigns.”The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity. Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it; let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them. Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy; they will sing before the LORD, for he comes, he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in his truth.”
Matthew 25:40 hits at the heart of the issue and is very useful for understanding step 12, as the writer pinpoints the purpose for reaching out to others:
“The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'
Just as our attitude had to change going from step to step, our attitude must be in keeping with God’s will for us moving forward. 1 Peter 4:7-11 gives us the final word for this step:
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.”
When you have completed Step 12 go to Christian Treatment for more information.