Though there is a succession of the Steps, an individual may find a need to return to Steps One through Three at various times, and it is encouraged. One sister said, “The Step I keep coming back to again and again is Step One. I am coming to recognize that I am truly powerless over much in life, and as I go back to Step One with each new struggle, I come to appreciate and understand more deeply that I must be attentive to and accepting of my powerlessness (otherwise my life can quickly become unmanageable). My task as I work through the Steps is to be at peace with my powerlessness – accept and let go over and over.” This idea is key to continuing the work of the Steps.
Instincts that are necessary for existence can sometimes exceed their proper functions. When out of balance, these instincts can create desires which may cause serious trouble and become liabilities. Every human being is susceptible to these troubles. Step Four reads, “Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves,” and it is a particular effort for individuals working on this Step to discover these liabilities and other personal discoveries. The word “blame” is eradicated from thinking and talking, and the process moves ahead. Step Four requires persistent willingness and courage, and it yields relief and confidence.
“It was in Step Four that I began to learn the meaning of true intimacy with another human being. In looking at myself, I had to examine how I affected others. The principles of truth and courage were my companions as I had to put myself in the shoes of others and express what I saw in me,” recalls one priest living a life of recovery. “I think I prayed more in this Step than any other, and God stayed with me through it all.”
All of the Twelve Steps go contrary to natural desires. When it comes to egos, few Steps are more difficult than Step Five, yet it is likely the most necessary Step to longtime sobriety and peace of mind. Step Five reads, “Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.” This Step is only possible if shared, though many try (unsuccessfully) to do it alone with God. There must be complete candor, and it is the beginning of true kinship with man and God. It is also the beginning of the feeling that everyone can be forgiven, no matter what they had thought or done – and it is a first time many are able to forgive others.
“You have to recognize who you really are, and then you have to work to become who you really can be – who God wants you to be,” summarizes a priest at one of our retreats. Another priest added, “‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ is not a slogan in the Twelve Steps. It’s the opposite. You have to ask about everything and tell about everything. You hold back nothing. It’s so difficult and so freeing.”
Written by Guest House Staff Writer
AA is not affiliated or allied with any sect, denomination, or specific religious belief. When AA speaks of God, they mean each individual’s own conception of God.