Beautiful image of the crucifix above the altar in the Scripps Mansion Chapel

“The early Steps helped me to trust God, and now I can let the Holy Spirit guide me as I reflect throughout the days. I really needed to develop that deeper trust,” offered an alumna following a recent Women’s Retreat.

Step One of AA reads, “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.” It is a vital step: an honest admission of alcoholism or another addiction. Step One is the beginning but is often revisited more than once, and it proves to be the foundation of all positive change. Few people care to admit complete defeat or powerlessness, but they soon learn that rather than defeat, it is movement toward liberation and strength – the beginning of the road to healing and wellness.

One brother in recovery reflects, “I would say that the Principle of rigorous honesty in Step One is the main thread of recovery for me. It starts in Step One when I begin to accept reality of my situation (addiction) and the consequences (manageability). Step Two tells of the reality of the need for God’s help. The beginning of the Steps is basically repentance for me – like the tax collector, ‘Have mercy on me, a sinner.’”

Step Two is a measure of hope: “Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” It lays the spiritual cornerstone of AA. This Step is the beginning of the end, in a way. Those struggling with addiction will end their old lives and begin new ones, committed to faith – faith in whatever they choose. Negative becomes positive. They learn to ask God for the grace to do His will. There can be confusion, but faith is rediscovered in the process. Step Two is continued movement – rallying a person to step forward.

Step Three is like opening a door which to all appearances is shut and locked. The answer lies in having a key, and the key is willingness – and (a growing) faith. Once unlocked, the door opens and can always be opened more – sometimes, it swings open. The first two Steps require acceptance, and the third is the beginning of the Steps that require affirmative action. One sister recalls, “I was especially inspired by Step Three: ‘Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand Him.’ I felt that taking this Step would enhance my spiritual life and help to keep me spiritually fit. I wrote a commitment to this Step, read it at my Departure Liturgy and signed it in the presence of the assembly. I keep it in my Big Book and reflect on it often. I also have a God Box, given to me by one of my therapists, in which I place issues that I need to turn over to God. On the lid are the words: ‘Leave the outcome up to God.’ These Step Three practices have helped me stay sober for twelve and a half years and live reasonably happy, joyous and free.” Common for many at this point are words from “The Serenity Prayer” by Reinhold Niebuhr and powerful Scripture: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference — Thy will, not mine, be done.”

One priest in recovery shared this story, “When I was talking to another priest in treatment, he told me, ‘I guess I’ve always done it my way, and that hasn’t worked; maybe I should try it their way.’ I thought about his words and wrestled with what it meant to let go of my way of thinking and to believe that I could ask God for help. The next day, I felt more hopeful, and the world around me seemed brighter. Things began to make sense. God showed me how to trust in Him, how He could do for me what I could not do for myself. Even after years of preparation for the priesthood and two years of active ministry, trust in God was a new concept. In addition to beginning my recovery, I also began discovering my spirituality.”

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.