I was in a meeting this morning where the topic was taken from today’s Daily Reflections.
December 1: “SUGGESTED” STEPS
Our Twelfth Step also says that as a result of practicing all the Steps, we have each found something called a spiritual awakening. . . . A.A.’s manner of making ready to receive this gift lies in the practice of the Twelve Steps in our program.
— TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, pp. 106-07
I remember my sponsor’s answer when I told him that the Steps were “suggested.” He replied that they are “suggested” in the same way that, if you were to jump out of an airplane with a parachute, it is “suggested” that you pull the ripcord to save your life. He pointed out that it was “suggested” I practice the Twelve Steps, if I wanted to save my life. So I try to remember daily that I have a whole program of recovery based on all Twelve of the “suggested” Steps.
Normally it doesn’t bother me when something is read from our literature with which I disagree, but this really got my goat! If I was the newcomer in the room, and this was my first meeting, what I would hear would be ,”You have to work the steps” … period!. That’s the message this reading suggests.
Then I would look up at the Steps on the wall, and I would see “Turn your will and your life over to God”. Now, this may seem trite, but at that point I would have left AA, and most likely have died or worse, continued living in that state of incomprehensible demoralization that the other conference approved literature describes.
Ironically, I treat the Big Book like most religious people treat their holy books. I ignore the bullshit and just use what works for me. That’s great for me, but think about the newcomer, someone who is desperate and hopeless, and at the complete pit of her existence; and then she hears this reading and thinks the only way to escape this hell she’s living in, is to turn her will and her life over to a god she is quite sure doesn’t exist. You know how they say that every bottom has a trap door? At the lowest point in her life, at the exact moment she is ready to do anything, she falls even lower than she thought possible. I can’t believe that this reading was approved by A.A.
Here is my opinion on some other “Conference Approved” gems. In the 12&12 this jumped out at me (coincidentally in the same meeting):
So, practicing these Steps, we had a spiritual awakening about which finally there was no question. Looking at those who were only beginning and still doubted themselves, the rest of us were able to see the change setting in. From great numbers of such experiences, we could predict that the doubter who still claimed that he hadn’t got the “spiritual angle,” and who still considered his well-loved A.A. group the higher power, would presently love God and call Him by name.”
— TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, page 109
Really? So what’s his name? Christ? Allah? Vishnu? Ganesh (which is actually the deity I like the best)? Which “higher power” are they talking about here? Well, if I look at some other conference approved literature…
Daily Reflections, November 24th
A UNIVERSAL SEARCH
Be quick to see where religious people are right Make use of what they offer.
— ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, page 87
I do not claim to have all the answers in spiritual matters, anymore than I claim to have all the answers about alcoholism. There are others who are also engaged in a spiritual search. If I keep an open mind about what others have to say, I have much to gain. My sobriety is greatly enriched, and my practice of the Eleventh Step more fruitful, when I use both the literature and practices of my Judeo-Christian tradition, and the resources of other religions. Thus, I receive support from many sources in staying away from the first drink.
Hmmm… the resources of “other religions”, presumably the wrong ones. Maybe I’m getting silly with this (a character defect o’ mine) but it does strike a nerve, and I don’t think I have to remind you of the condescending bullshit the Chapter to the Agnostics suggests.
With all that said, I do believe in the spirit of the reading I heard this morning. When I came into AA the first time, I thought I had all the answers. It took years and years of hitting bottom after bottom until I was willing to do, as my sponsor puts it, things I knew wouldn’t work. I did them anyway because I was willing to go to any lengths to stay sober.
I asked for AA’s help with complete abandon. You asked me to be fearless and thorough, and I did what you told me. Yes, I even put my shoes under my bed and ‘prayed’ every morning and every night, even though I knew I was just talking to my bedspread, and I’m sober today because of it.
I realize now that my way didn’t work and the only way I was going to get sober was to make a “complete psychic change”. I get that, but it wasn’t prayer that did the trick. Magic didn’t solve my drinking problem. We did, together, and that’s my point. When we approve these pieces of literature at the Conference, we need to think of us, all of us!
Because, I am responsible. When anyone, anywhere, reaches out for help, I want the hand of AA always to be there. And for that, I am responsible!