Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
In the previous eleven articles, I have described the simplicity and workability of the Twelve Steps. I have presented the key “Big Book” passages that were used by A.A. pioneers to take newcomers through the Steps in a couple of hours.
Now it is time to look at how we carry our lifesaving message of recovery to others. Once we have made our surrender, cleared away the blocks, and started listening to the “One who has all power,” we receive the greatest gift of this program—a spiritual awakening. The Power greater than human power is now guiding us “in a way which is indeed miraculous.”
When we take the time to listen to, and allow ourselves to be guided by, the “Indwelling Spirit,” we enhance and expand our connection to the spiritual solution to our difficulties. On page 568, the “Big Book” authors state:
“Most of us think this awareness of a Power greater than ourselves is the essence of spiritual experience. Our more religious members call it ‘God consciousness’.”
We expand our “God consciousness” by taking others through the process. We now know how easy it is to take the Twelve Steps, and as a result, we can be of real service to those who are still suffering. On page 89, the authors state that working with others also protects us from a relapse:
“Practical experience shows that nothing will so much insure immunity from (relapse) as intensive work with other(s). It works when other activities fail. This is our twelfth suggestion: Carry this message to other(s)! You can help when no one else can. You can secure their confidence when others fail.”
When WE work with others, OUR lives change. Some of these changes are described in the second paragraph on page 89:
“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. . . . Frequent contact with newcomers and with each other is the bright spot of our lives.”
In the first paragraph on page 94, the “Big Book” authors provide guidelines on how to present our solution to prospective members:
“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.”
At the top of page 100, the authors tell us we grow spiritually when we work with others:
“Both you and the (newcomer) must walk day by day in the path of spiritual progress. If you persist, remarkable things will happen. When we look back, we realize that the things which came to us when we put ourselves in God’s hands were better than anything we could have planned.”
On page 102, they even provide us with a new job description:
“Your job now is to be at the place where you may be of maximum helpfulness to others, so never hesitate to go anywhere if you can be helpful. You should not hesitate to visit the most sordid spot on earth on such an errand. Keep on the firing line of life with these motives and God will keep you unharmed.”
All that’s left is to practice the principles of Alcoholics Anonymous each and every day. What are the principles? The Twelve Steps! These are the principles we rely upon in order to remain in the “sunlight of the Spirit” for the rest of our lives.
We are now ready to take Step Twelve. The Twelfth Step question is in the first paragraph on page 89. It reads:
“Will you carry this message to (others)?”
If you can answer in the affirmative, you have taken Step Twelve. According to the “Big Book” authors and the A.A. pioneers, we have now taken ALL Twelve Steps. Nothing more is required other than to go through the process again and again and again and again. As I have mentioned throughout this series of articles, many A.A. old-timers suggested we take the Steps, “quickly and often.”
Taking the Steps “quickly and often” produces dramatic results. On page 143, the “Big Book” authors write:
“To return to the subject matter of this book: It contains full suggestions by which the (newcomer) may solve his (or her) problem. To you, some of the ideas which it contains are novel. Perhaps you are not quite in sympathy with the approach we suggest. By no means do we offer it as the last word on this subject, but so far as we are concerned, it has worked for us. After all, are you not looking for results rather than methods?”
All I ask is that you keep an open mind with regard to this “Introduction to the Twelve Steps.” This is just the beginning, the “spiritual kindergarten” of recovery. Join a “Big Book” study. Take the Steps in more depth and detail. Work with others. Bring a Beginners’ Meeting into a prison or aftercare facility. As Bill W. writes, “It works—it really does.”
On page 132, the authors describe what we can look forward to now that we are living in the solution and taking others through the work:
“. . . We have recovered and have been given the power to help others.”
Yes, we “have recovered from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body,” and we have been given the tools to assist those in need. On page 94, the “Big Book” authors write:
“ . . . It is important for (the newcomer) to realize that your attempt to pass this on to him (or her) plays a vital part in your own recovery.”
By taking others through the Steps, you just might save a life or two, starting with your own.
Wally P. is an archivist, historian and author who, for more than twenty-three years, has been studying the origins and growth of the Twelve-step movement. He is the caretaker for the personal archives of Dr. Bob and Anne Smith.
Wally conducts history presentations and recovery workshops, including “Back to the Basics of Recovery” in which he takes attendees through all Twelve Steps in four, one-hour sessions. More than 500,000 have taken the Steps using this powerful, time-tested, and highly successful “original” program of action.