Understanding the Twelve Steps
There is a progression to the Twelve Steps. Each must be acted upon in turn. Each builds on the previous step or steps. Yet no step is ever fully mastered. The aim is to continue deepening one’s understanding of each step and how it applies to one’s life. No one ever “finishes” the Twelve Steps; however, the aim is to make these a reflexive part of one’s life. There is no hurry to “get through” these steps; the focus is on one day at a time. Speed, competitiveness, or perfection are not the aim; personal and spiritual wholeness is. This comes in different ways for different people at different paces.
The Twelve Step program is not magic. It is not automatic. It does not come with a 100% guarantee. It is not always easy to follow. It is not fun to undertake. It requires ongoing effort, utter honesty, and continual vigilance. But it does bring recovery; that is, one develops a pattern of living that makes it possible, with continued effort, to remain free of the addictive behavior. The testimony of hundreds of thousands of “recovering addicts” indicates that this is so. And so it should be, because at the heart of the Twelve Step program are sound spiritual principles that describe how transformation takes place:
Will power is not enough. We need an outside power (God) to enable us to do what we have been unable to do ourselves.
We won’t open ourselves to that power until we run out of excuses, rationalizations, and “give-me-one-more-chance’s.” In AA, they used to call this “hitting the bottom.”
Recovery requires utter honesty: with ourselves, with others, and with God.
We are never fully free of the addiction. We will always be “recovering addicts,” not “recovered addicts” – just as we are never free of “sin,” but are always “recovering sinners.” Thus we must continue to live out the principles that freed us from the addiction in the first place.
To be healthy, we have to get outside ourselves and help others who are struggling.