In the beginning, I could never understand why the 11th step was so far down the list. Shouldn’t I be doing that from the start? If spirituality underlies each and every step, how will I ever recover if I wait so long to pray for knowledge? The importance of the fellowship and strength I drew from their experience becomes very clear as I look at the reasons. So, again, why so long?
Very simply, I had to clear the way to decipher that knowledge, to separate out my own selfish wants and desires and become attuned to my HP’s will for me.
- I had to believe I needed help.
- I had to believe that help existed.
- I had to make a decision to commit myself to accepting that help.
- I had to look deep inside myself and take inventory of what I found.
- I had to express that inventory to my HP and another human being—one of my own kind.
- I had to welcome a change in myself that was sure to come when I was relieved of those things which made me unfit to live purposefully.
- I had to ask my HP for help to change me.
- I had to look outside of myself to those I’d hurt and welcome the change in the way I related to the world—a change that would surely come if I cleared my own side of the street.
- I had to take action to do what I could to right my past wrongs, taking care that I was not relieving my own conscience at the expense of further pain to others.
- I had to practice, incorporating all I had learned into my daily life.
Then, and only then, could I enter into a prayer and have any idea how to separate out that voice which was my own, driven by those character defects I still possessed and that which was something outside of myself. Motives, motives, motives! The first ten steps had prepared me to recognize those things in me which kept me cut off from the Sunlight of the Spirit. The twelfth step begins, “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps…” As this spiritual awakening occurs, something that is brought about by diligent work on the first eleven steps, the appendix on Spiritual Experience calls my new state “God-consciousness.” If I can attain this state, I don’t have to work quite so hard, as the answers come. I might even, at this point, “instinctively know how to handle situations that used to baffle” me!
Now, just because I’ve taken the steps and am vigilant about practicing them all on a daily basis, including the twelfth, will I always know that I am following my HP’s will for me? You know, I think I always receive a gift, whether I’m working on my will or my HP’s. If it’s the former, I receive another chance to learn. If I’m truly doing my best, if I’m trying and don’t give in to that sad, familiar state of hopelessness that I’ll never get it right, I can forgive myself in that case. I’ve found no good reason for self-flagellation in recovery. If my HP accepts my flaws, then who am I to selfishly demand perfection?
To summarize, yes, I seek out knowledge of my HP’s will. I find it by divorcing myself from selfish and self-centered motives, practicing the principles in all my affairs and taking a look at what’s left. This occurs in the process of prayer and meditation as the eleventh step directs. If my motives are right, if I’m seeking a path that will better fit me for service to my HP and my human companions, I can be reasonably sure that if I do what’s in front of me to do, the results are my HP’s will for me.
Anyone who’s familiar with the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous will know that I have not expressed one original idea in the above post! Thank you, Great Spirit!