Alanon Talk on Step 12

Step 12.  Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Steps 10, 11 and 12 are referred to as “maintenance” steps.  They are what help us to keep moving in the direction of acceptance and serenity.

Step 10 urges us to continue taking our personal inventory, knowing that “defects of character” are never fully jettisoned.  By promptly admitting our errors, we’re able to pull out of downward spirals before they have a chance to build much velocity.

Step 11 urges us to pray and meditate regularly so as to improve our “conscious contact with God as we understood God.”  The Serenity Prayer works for many of us as an ongoing reminder to call on our Higher Power on a regular basis.

Step 12 offers us a promise — a “spiritual awakening” as the fruit of working this program.  We may start with some pre-conceptions of what a “spiritual awakening” is.  Depending on our religious tradition, we may think of Moses and the Burning Bush, Jesus fasting in the desert, Mohammed receiving the Koran from an angel in a cave, or Buddha experiencing enlightenment under the bodhi tree.

For many of us, however, what we receive in Alanon is a “gradual awakening”.  For me, this experience had to do with a recognition of my Higher Power as being Reality.  I learned that when I tried to avoid, control or argue with Reality, I suffered more, as did my loved ones.  A spiritual teacher I respect offered the suggestion:  “try to meet all of life’s events as if you had chosen them”.  While this is still often a tall order for me, even the act of considering it as a possibility offers me relief and comfort.

Step 12 says that our “spiritual awakening” comes as a result of these steps.  In the first three steps, we admit we are powerless and that a power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity when we turn our lives over to that power.  Steps 4-6 outlines what is required of us:  finding and admitting or faults and surrendering those faults over to our Higher Power.  Steps 7-9 help us to make restitution to the people we have harmed by our foolish belief that we can avoid or control Reality.  Steps 10-12 are the “maintenance” steps that we take to keep our awakening fresh and vital.

The second part of Step 12 says that “we tried to take this message to others”.  For those of us in Alanon, this often means continuing to attend Alanon meetings after the relationship or situation that precipitated our coming is no longer so pressing.  We keep coming back out of a recognition of how much we have received, and a sincere desire to share this good news with others.  For some, this desire to give back is expressed in additional service, such as serving on our local and regional Alanon administrative groups.  For others it may mean staying after a meeting to talk with a new person, or even offering to be an Alanon sponsor.

The last part of Step 12 urges us “to practice these principles in all our affairs”.  Alanon is not a religious group, but for many of us, it has become an ongoing spiritual program.  We learn many important relational lessons in Alanon:  to wait until asked by our qualifiers, to stay in communication without reflexively offering advice or financial support, to allow others to receive the needed correction of suffering the consequences of their actions.  We learn about “love with detachment” and other paradoxical suggestions that we would never have come upon ourselves.  What we learn in these rooms are important lessons about life and reality.

In conclusion, I’d like to read a short summary of the “promises” of the steps.  It’s from a book about AA called “The Spirituality of Imperfection” (p. 243). It has the following quote from the book “Alcoholics Anonymous”, sometimes referred to as the “Big Book”, and expresses the promises of our program, as embodied in Step 12.

“If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through.  We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness.  We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.  We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace.  No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experiences can benefit others.  That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear.  We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away.  Our whole attitude and outlook on life will change.  Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us.  We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us.  We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.”

John Bayerl, 12/11/2017

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