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Step 12
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.

When I first ran across this step, I missed so much of what it says. Hears what it does NOT mean:

  • Tell everyone in the whole world that I am a changed man (talk is cheap!)
  • Tell everyone in the whole world that they need this! (they may not have been so screwed up in the first place)
  • Tell everyone that if they don't do this, they are awful people! (no, I am awful people if I don't do this)

You see, I "found" this step BEFORE I "took" this step, so I didn't understand it! I wasn't ready at all, but then, I was still struggling with the first step, and reading ahead!

Let me repeat two paragraphs from the step 11 page:

There is a saying that is very, very old, that I long misunderstood. It's a piece of scripture from the New Testament, found in Second Corinthians in the first chapter. It reads about how God comforts us, so that we can pass the comfort on to others.

We are not comforted for our own sake, except that we are to pass it on to others that also suffer. If you need the reference, it's Second Corinthians, Chapter One, Verses Three and Four.

My Higher Power does not want me to get my act together so that I can be independent and proud and arrogant. God wants me to become a tool He can use to help others heal as well. My recovery is not for my sake alone, but for the sake of others that also need what these steps have to offer.

So what does this step really mean? Let's look more closely at it. First note, that you have to have had the spiritual awakening before you can finish this step. For you Buddhists, that means "wake up" as Buddha did, and then go help others! For you Christians, that means realizing that Jesus is alive today, and personally interested in your life, coaching you step by step to follow as He wants you to follow Him. For your religion if it is other than those two, go find your leader, or better yet, find someone that has been in a 12 step program awhile, and you can see that they have had their spiritual awakening and allow them to mentor you!

Notice that you carry this message to others in the same boat as you are! You take it to "alcoholics", or to whatever group of people you have had to walk this path with in the first place. In other words, go back to your own weakness, and find those that have the same weakness, and help them. It's pretty hard to be arrogant when you have to confess your own weakness as a credential to helping others, isn't it?

The next part is a major change for me, which is to practice these principles in all my affairs. For me to learn a new set of principles to cure me of a flaw is one thing, but then to use them in "all my affairs" is another. I had too much pride to like hearing that, and so I resisted.

Of course, you are not going to be that stupid, are you?

Are you?

If you are, come back when you get over it, under it, around it or some other way through it. Make it through the tough times, because the view from the other side is great.

Why is it great? Because I earned it? No. That is not the case. The view is great, to help make me love being here, so that WHEN I stumble again, I have an extra reason to come back, to fight back and come here again.

I slip, I fall, I backslide. Yet, I get here from time to time and it is so nice, I want to stay forever. When I do regress, I want back so much I fight for it.

My Higher Power, my God, is the Judeo-Christian God, and allows me to chip away at my old life in the same way that Michelangelo chipped away at his marble blocks that became wonderful works of art: one ugly piece at a time, one area at a time, over a period of time.

I squirm, I complain, I wiggle and yet He keeps on chipping away. I am allowed to be in denial of the things I can not handle, until I am able to handle them.

I only really learn some things when I start to share them, as I have seen that in preparing to talk or write about something makes me look into it deeper, which is always good for me to do. I am embarrassed at how much I have learned from those much younger than me, and I am grateful to have been able to share with them.

With you.

* The Twelve Steps are reprinted with permission of Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. Permission to reprint and adapt the Twelve Steps does not mean that A. A. has reviewed or approved the contents of this publication, nor that A. A. agrees with the views expressed herein. A. A. is a program of recovery from alcoholism. Use of the Twelve Steps in connection with programs which are patterned after A. A. but which address other problems does not imply otherwise.

The complete Serenity Prayer is also available on this website.