Individuals in recovery often have a conflicted and complicated relationship with God. Some may feel personally rejected by God; after all, going through the hell that is alcoholism is enough to leave individuals feeling hopeless and rejected. Some alcoholics may also have turned to alcohol as an escape from painful emotions or difficult experiences, such as sexual abuse, domestic violence, an unexpected loss of a loved one, or other emotionally challenging experiences. These individuals may feel a deep sense of loss and rejection or be experiencing depression and anxiety. Consequently, AA’s 12 Steps can be profoundly transformative not only by providing individuals with a clear pathway towards sobriety, but also by helping these individuals reconnect with God. This eBook will walk you through each of the 12 steps so you can better understand how the 12 step program connects participants with God.
“We admitted we were powerless over alcohol and that our lives had become unmanageable.”The first step of AA is to admit that one has a problem. Admitting that a problem exists is essential to being willing to also take steps to seek treatment for this problem. Without acknowledging a problem exists in the first place, individuals are more likely to believe that they can self-manage their drinking and believe that they do not need treatment. Public admission of a problem can be painful, but doing so is the fundamental first step towards getting healthy. The first step is similar to the following passage in the Bible, “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.” (Romans 7:18)
“Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”The second step clearly connects the 12 Step program with a higher power. Participants need only acknowledge that it is possible that there is a God, and that that God could help them to find the path toward sobriety. All denominations and creeds are accepted, and none are excluded. It is only through acknowledging one’s failings and weaknesses, and then putting one’s faith and trust in a higher power, that one can hope to become and remain sober. This step is similar to the following passages in the Bible, “… my grace is sufficient for you, for my POWER is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) and “…for it is God who works in you to will and act according to His good purpose.” (Phil. 2:13)
“Make a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.”In step three, program participants commit to turning their life over to God or to a higher power. It is not simply that you are turning your life over to God, but that you implicitly trust him with the direction of your life. AA Step three is more than just having faith. Step three is all about taking the action to acknowledge this faith and earnestly trust God. In Step three, you are actively making the commitment to turn your life and your will over to God. Most significantly you are making this decision, no one else is. You are taking responsibility for your actions and you – not family, not loved ones, not friends – are choosing to live a new life by trusting God. The third step is similar to the following passage in the Bible, “… If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23)
“Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.”The fourth step is a difficult and challenging one that requires program participants to not only admit that they have a problem, but also begin actively searching and acknowledging that one has additional faults as well. Each program participant must look at their past behavior and admit to these problems. This step is a moral inventory; it is an honest compilation of all our traits, both good and bad. Step four is a true turning point; it is this step that brings us the necessary strength and insight to grow through our relationship with God. The fourth step is similar to the following passage in the Bible, “Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord.” (Lamentations 3:40)
“Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.”Acknowledging what you have done wrong through a moral self-inventory and admitting what you have done wrong to others are two very different things. Discussing our moral defects with another person is a humbling experience that requires humility and vulnerability. In Step five, program participants share their moral inventory with God and with their support group. This step is the key to freedom because it is only by sharing the exact nature of our wrongs that we are ready to move forward with sobriety and build a strong, honest relationship with God. While God already knows our failings because He is omniscient, one must admit to the failings as well for compassion and honesty. The fifth step is similar to the following passage in the Bible, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” (James 5:16)
“Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.”Once program participants have performed a moral inventory and admitted their faults, the next step is to let go and accept that it is time to change. Participants are now ready to let God remove these moral defects. This is a step rooted in reflection and preparation and the acknowledgment that is it not possible to remove these moral defects without God’s assistance. One cannot try to rush this step or do God’s part in the spiritual and moral growth process; being “entirely ready” means letting go to allow God to operate on His own timeline, for it is God who is the controller and life-changer of oneself and others. Acknowledging this allows God’s power to be released and flow through one’s life. The sixth step is similar to the following passage in the Bible, “If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land.” (Isaiah 1:19)
“Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.”While Step seven is similar to Step three, it is also more specific. This step is where participants make a change in their attitude that permits participants, with humility, to find the grace for transferring all control of the recovery process to God. This step typically focuses on healing through quiet prayer and meditation. The seventh step is similar to the following passage in the Bible, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.” (James 4:10)
“List all the persons we may have harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.”Step eight is the beginning of the healing process and making amends for the wrong one has done. This step is all about learning to live in harmony, peace and partnership with others. One cannot move forward with sobriety until one has both forgiven oneself and taken steps to ask forgiveness from others. Reopening of emotional wounds can be an incredibly painful process, especially wounds that have been simmering bellowing the surface for many years. At first, reopening these wounds may seem purposeless. However, it is only by reopening these wounds that one can take an honest look at why past relationships failed.
Painful RelationshipsThis is especially true when these relationships were built on pain, fear, resentment, sadness and other dark emotional wounds carried deep inside. First, participants form a new relationship with God. It is through this new relationship with God that participants are ready to reach out to those they have hurt in the past and take steps to make amends by accepting responsibility for their behaviors. Reconcile with others and then move forward with a new life. The eighth step is similar to the following passage in the Bible, “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:23-24)
“Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.”Step nine is all about taking action to make amends. This may be by writing letters to those you have hurt, talking to them in person, paying back debts that you owe, and seeking to undo the damage that you have done. The goal here is to bring goodness when previously there has only been discord and destruction. This step takes courage, insight, humility and dedication – all of which is possible through God. This step is about living the life that God intended for you to live.
Timing Is An Important StepTiming is also an important part of step nine. Whenever possible, one should make amends at the first opportunity to do so. Admitting you were wrong, apologizing for the hurt you caused, and telling the person you hurt that you are getting help is important. Sometimes, people have been so seriously hurt, that they are not yet ready to forgive you. For example, if you hurt someone because of drunk driving, this person or their family may not yet be ready to hear your apology or accept the apology yet. This is okay; the ninth step teaches us that we place this forgiveness in God’s hands.
Finding Peace Is Not Being PerfectWhile we should never fail to contact anyone because of embarrassment, procrastination or fear, we must acknowledge that complete forgiveness may not be possible, and that through God we can find peace in this. The ninth step is similar to the following passage in the Bible, “Give and it shall be given you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Luke 6:38)
“Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.”A major part of the 12 Step program is the continual acknowledgment of your failings and willingness to take responsibility for these failings by placing your trust in God. This step lays the foundation for the rest of your life. In this step, you pledge to continually monitor your life with honesty and humility. We examine our actions, reactions and motives. We admit fault when we have made mistakes rather than trying to rationalize these steps. This admission of fault is important. By constantly evaluating and acknowledging our mistakes, we continue to work the 12 Steps on a daily basis. This step is like a “spiritual pocket computer”; keeping tabs on our daily actions is important to our relationship with God. Program participants benefit from asking questions such as: “Did I pray today?”, “Did I go to my meeting?”, “Did I speak with my sponsor?” These questions remind program participants that it is not possible to “go it alone” and that daily contact with God is absolutely essential to maintaining sobriety. Admitting trouble or daily difficulties is not a sign of weakness, but of strength because it brings one closer to God. This step is similar to the following Bible passage, “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith GOD has given you.” (Romans 12:3)
“Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.”Step 11 is an important reminder that constant contact with God through prayer and meditation is absolutely essential. Many individuals when they first begin the program use prayer to express wants and needs. As individuals grow spiritualty by working the 12 steps, they come to realize that the most important thing is to have one’s spiritual needs meet. As long as these needs are met, other things will fall into place. The greatest need is knowledge of God’s will for us and the strength to carry His will out. With new-found acceptance and spiritual maintenance, we are able to let others be who they are without passing judgment. This step is similar to the following Bible passages, “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14) and “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…” (Col. 3:16)
“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.”The final step of the 12 Steps reminds program participants about the importance of giving back and helping others. Selfless service is an important part of the program. As participants receive their recovery from God, participants must also share His word and tools. Participants must carry the message to those who are also seeking help, including those who may be suffering from addiction and are not yet ready to acknowledge their addiction. While program participants should never “force” their program or views on others, they should be available should a person decide to seek help. Learning the art of helping others is an important part of Step 12. Participants can share from their own personal experience and testify to the difference that the program has made for them. While the temptation to give advice may be great, Step 12 is a reminder that an honest message of recovery through God rings most true. Witnessing to others also brings a greater appreciation of the program’s impact on an individual’s own life and can be a reminder of the importance for continued commitment and maintenance. Finally, by helping other participants give what they have received the program comes full circle. This step is similar to the following Bible passage, “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:1-2) Sources: 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous & Biblical References ]]>