DISCLAIMER: The author in no way speaks for or represents Alcoholics Anonymous, AA World Services, or any AA group. If you or someone you know has a problem with alcohol, please visit one of the links at the end of this post.
My name is Bob, and I’m an alcoholic. That reality is one of the central facts of my life. That I am able to live freely and productively in society, to have a happy life and be of some small service to others is, I believe, nothing short of a miracle. That miracle is the result of God at work in my life through people, some alcoholic and some not, who have brought me back from the gates of Hell and shown me what the book Alcoholics Anonymous (aka “the Big Book”) calls “a design for living that really works.” That design for living is laid out in the famous Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.
It is my belief, shared with many of my fellows, that this design for living has benefits not only for those struggling with alcoholism or addiction, but for anyone struggling with the day to day challenges of human life. The principles that underlie the steps are present in different forms in any number of spiritual traditions. Their roots can be found in the great sacred texts of the world, from Paul’s letter to the Romans to the Quran, and from the prophets of Israel to the wisdom of Buddhism. Many of the happiest, most contented and serene non-alcoholics I know practice principles similar to those underlying the steps in their daily lives, and more than once I have heard recovering alcoholics say, with genuine sympathy, “I feel sorry for ‘normal’ people who have to deal with life without a program.”
To that end, and because I have been asked to, I’ll be sharing some reflections on the steps as they apply to recovering humans (because the fact is, every human I know is recovering from something). I’ll be writing from a Christian perspective, because that is the perspective from which I understand the God I’ve come into deep relationship with by working these steps. Let me be very clear: I DO NOT SPEAK FOR ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, AND AA IS NOT A CHRISTIAN ORGANIZATION, OR EVEN A RELIGIOUS ONE. I am not an expert in the steps or the AA program. My purpose in writing these posts is not to “recruit” for AA, or even for the church. It is simply to explore the insights of a particular spiritual tradition and how those insights might apply more broadly to this thing called life.
The spiritual principles I’ll be exploring are:
- Powerlessness and unmanageability
- Coming to believe
- Making a decision
- Taking inventory
- Coming clean
- Getting ready
- Humbly asking
- Becoming willing
- Making amends
- Being mindful
- Improving contact
- Giving it away
Obviously, this is not a comprehensive list of spiritual principles, nor is it the only spiritual framework on which one can base a happy, healthy, fulfilling life. It is merely one framework. If it is helpful to you, then I’m glad. If it is not, I wish you joy in your journey. As is often said within recovery fellowships, “Take what you can use and leave the rest.” The next post in the series can be found at “Powerless and Unmanageable“.
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If you or someone you know has a problem with alcohol, please visit:
http://www.aa.org – The official website of AA World Services, Inc.
http://www.al-anon.alateen.org – Strength and hope for friends and families of problem drinkers
http://www.adultchildren.org – Adult Children of Alcoholics World Service Organization, Inc.
Or Google “alcoholics anonymous <your town>” to find your local AA Intergroup office.