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One day after visiting the grave of my brother, I began to stroll through the cemetery and found the grave of woman whom I had grown up with. Not only was she buried there but also her teenage son. As I stood there reflecting on what could of went wrong in their lives, I noticed as two car loads of young men parked and exited their vehicles. I waited for a few seconds as the men stood behind me and then I turned and ask them "Was this someone's mother? One of the men stepped forward and said "No, her son was our friend." My response was "I see." Then I proceeded to share with them that I had grown up in the same Santa Ana, CA neighborhood as the mother and began to mention names of her family members.
Research in the last twenty years has made available lots of new information about where each of the Twelve Steps came from, so far as its language and ideas are concerned.
Therefore, if you put these and other thoughts together, you may find why the rapidly disappearing spiritual roots of A.A. are important. The reflections in this article, however, are just designed to remind us all of some principal historical roots of the 12 Steps. And to show how they can help you, as they did me, to see what the Twelve Steps are really about–or at least were, when Bill Wilson first penned them.
Where They Did Not Come From
~First Step Prayer~
I admit that I am powerless over my addiction.
I admit that my life is unmanageable when I try to control it.
Help me this day to understand the true meaning of powerlessness.
Remove from me all denial of my addiction.
~Second Step Prayer~
I know in my heart that only you can restore me to sanity.
I humbly ask that you remove all twisted thought and
addictive behavior from me this day.
Heal my spirit and restore in me a clear mind.
Charles Dickens' 1843 novel, A Christmas Carol is the famous tale of Ebenezer Scrooge, an old miser who is visited by spirits representing the past, present and future. The novel, while set during the Christmas season, is a story of redemption. It's a wakeup call. It's a lesson on making amends. And it has the Twelve Steps all over the place.
Steps 4-12 heavily involve the "other" of wronged people in our lives, hurt by our destructive choices. They speak to our rebellion of the changed life we need to experience.
4. We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
He that getteth wisdom loveth his own soul: he that keepeth understanding shall find good." Proverbs 19:8
As with most families this time of year, my husband and I commemorate the season with holiday decorations. That décor, however, is threatened by two factors: our cats, Gracie and Glory.
And, it is in this holiday decoration/feline context where I started thinking about the power of negative consequences.
The Book of Proverbs is especially loaded with helpful warnings for particular behaviors. It comes down to wisdom versus foolishness, pride versus humility, willingness to learn versus stubbornly and repeatedly making the same poor choices.
Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end. Proverbs 19:20
Judgments are prepared for scorners, and stripes for the back of fools. Proverbs 19:29
Like it or not, we live in a cause and effect world. Many of us who battle with addiction, disorder and compulsion have already felt certain unpleasant consequences like lost jobs, wrecked relationships, health issues and excruciating moments of embarrassment.
"You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor." Deuteronomy 5:20
The cute social media post thing strikes again. I came across this fluff ball the other day:
"Nope, I haven't seen your lipstick."
Adorable. Humorous. Human.
Indeed, this deceptive attempt at convincing did not start with our adorable pup. Rather, we need to look at history, a little further back. Let's peek in on a power couple.
Once upon a time, there was Ananias and Sapphira...Acts 5:1-11
Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property.
For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he... Proverbs 23:7
Senator Cory Booker, on an appearance of "The Daily Show," recently shared a powerful lesson with the audience:
"My father told me there are two ways to go through life: as a thermometer or as a thermostat. A thermometer: whatever someone says about you, you go up or down. A thermostat: you set the temperature."
Both the thermometer and the thermostat reflect life and its issues, including our stance on addiction and recovery.
And our choice has significant ramifications concerning health, well-being and prosperity. Each option offers its inevitable results.
So, it might be worth our while to ponder what those very results may mean for us.
First, the thermometer: its appeal is that self-gratifying moment. It doesn't require much work. You just let your feelings rip.
While going through some of my childhood possessions, I came across something which took on a profound meaning to me: a kitten poster.
This was the first poster I got as a six year old. I immediately was captivated by it because of its cute factor. A small kitten, hiding in a paper bag? What's not to love?
You know, the phrase, "the cat is out of the bag?" Well, I couldn't deny that ditty followed me throughout my life, eating disorder shenanigans and, of course, my disclosure of and recovery from them. After all, within my book, "Thin Enough," I wrote a poem starting the chapter on disclosure, entitled, "The Cat is Out of the Bag."
Disclosure - it is intimidating.
"Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known." Luke 12:2
"Fight Club" is a powerful film, cemented within pop culture. It's notorious, in particular, for the famous line of its main character, Tyler Durden's, often quoted within our society...
"Welcome to Fight Club. The first rule of Fight Club is: you do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is: you DO NOT talk about Fight Club!"
And it got me thinking about secrecy.
As we bump along in life, we often misunderstand things, especially concerning our recovery. I recently caught a cartoon which captures that reality.
In it, we see Jesus and His disciples on a fishing boat. One disciple is in a festive mood, complete with some castanet shaking. This prompts another disciple's response...
"You idiot. He said cast the nets."
Does this spotlight, once again, our human cluelessness?
Perhaps, rather, it taps into the purposeful recovery-from-addiction meaning in our lives, should we choose to embrace it.
Let's take a gander at the fishy verses...