Archive for category Step 4

Get a life…

Thomas Merton, Trappist Monk 1915 - 1968The spiritual life is first of all a life. It is not merely something to be known and studied, it is to be lived.

- Thomas Merton

Sure, I had heard about spirituality and living a spiritual life but I paid little attention to it. What could it possibly have to do with me? What could it do for me that I couldn’t do for myself? As the consequences of my addictive behaviors grew and swept away everything I thought I had accomplished I felt a deep hopelessness and despair. I truly understood the phrase ‘incomprehensible demoralization’, used in the book, Alcoholics Anonymous. The 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous provided me with the tools to begin living this spiritual life which is the solution to my problem.

The 12 Step program of Alcoholics Anonymous is a spiritual program of action, not a program of study or discussion. Going to meetings and talking about recovery is not sufficient. The spiritual principles I experience when working Steps 1 – 9 must continue to be put into action in Steps 10 – 12. This is a daily process of being present in each moment in a spiritual way. My humility, gratitude, tolerance and love exist only in this moment, not yesterday and not tomorrow but right here, right now. Contrary to a sometimes misunderstood term used in AA these are not spiritual tools laid at my feet to be used when times are tough. They become part of me, of who I am, to be used in every and all aspects of my life. They are my life; my spiritual life.

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Searching and Fearless

My character defects were the manifestation of the spiritual emptiness I felt inside of me. I knew that I just wasn’t good enough. I was afraid to open my heart to others because I believed I would be rejected. Therefore, it was all up to me. Life’s satisfaction and meaning were my responsibility. No one else could be trusted with them. From this my selfishness was born and it steadily grew over the years. I papered over the emptiness I felt by trying to prove to society that I was ok. I worked hard and my life appeared successful.  But the emptiness continued to grow and the functional life that was a thin patch over my wounded soul eventually eroded. The pain caused by the gaping hole at the core of my being could no longer be ignored. I dulled the pain with sex, drugs and alcohol (ok, and rock n roll).

In recovery I had to face these defects in the 4th Step and share them with my sponsor in the 5th Step. How could I do this? The Steps are done in order for a reason. This is one of them. If I could have faced these defects under my own power I certainly would have. I was truly powerless over my addictions (Step 1) and this was another concrete example. The solution was, then, more power (Step 2) and I made a decision (Step 3) to rely on this new power and direction in my life. Only then was I ready, willing and able to do an honest, searching and fearless 4th Step.

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