~ SPIRITUAL GROWTH


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Having had a Spiritual Awakening or Spiritual Experience as is evidenced by an Entire Psychic Change as the result of taking the first nine Steps, we are now to begin our Spiritual Growth.  Spiritual Growth is dependent upon our application of Steps Ten, Eleven and carried out in Step Twelve.  Quite often, we hear some one say, “This Program is a journey without a destination”, but the Big Book indicates that there is, indeed, a destination when it reads, “We have entered the World of the Spirit” (AA, pg. 84). We are further told that “we are to grow in understanding and effectiveness” (AA, pg. 84).  That is precisely the purpose of Steps Ten, Eleven and Twelve; to grow in understanding that we do, in fact, have a Solution to all our problems and effectiveness in learning how to apply the Twelve Steps to whatever might appear to be a problem.



As we study the clear-cut directions for taking Step Ten on page 84 of the Big Book, we are told when to take it, how to take it, what the results will be and a reminder as to why we must take the Steps as they were given to us.  So the first question is, “When do I begin to take Step Ten?”  The answer to that is, “We commenced this way of living as we cleaned up the past.”  We cleaned up the past in Step Nine, so as soon as we begin the process of making amends is the time we begin taking personal inventory.  We initiate the practice of watching for our mistakes and wrongs.  What are they?  They are exactly the same ones we found in Steps Four and Five.  They are the manifestations of our selfishness & self-centeredness.  And we are told we must take this personal inventory for the rest of our lives, if we want to truly enjoy life.



How specifically do we take Step Ten?  “Continue to watch for selfishness, dishonest, resentment and fear.” (Step Four).  “When these crop up, we ask God at once to remove them.” (Steps Six & Seven).  “We discuss them with someone immediately.” (Step Five).  “We make amends quickly.” (Steps Eight & Nine).  Then there is one more thing to do and that is to, “resolutely turn our thoughts to someone we can help.” (Step Twelve).  So, we take Step Ten by taking Steps, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine and Twelve moment by moment, day by day.  Notice how very precise the directions are.  When do we take Step Ten?   Any time we are disturbed is the time to act “at once”, “immediately” and “quickly”, recognizing that our selfishness and self-centeredness are again displaying themselves.  We must constantly remember that when we took Step Three, we gave up our right to ever have our way again as long as we live.  We are now to learn to do God’s Will; not ours.



So Step Ten is the beginning of our Spiritual Growth.  It is the beginning of becoming a selfless person, learning to be a loving and giving person.  That is the first Promise of Step Ten; love and tolerance of others is our code.  This Step is necessary for continued forgiveness that is required to make our amends.



With Step Ten, we begin to be a peace with the people about us.  We commence to understand that the quality of our life does not depend on what people think of us.  We begin to understand that the quality of our life depends on how we feel about the people God has put in our lives.  As long as we can look at everyone with love and tolerance, we are not disturbed.  We are at peace so now we can begin to practice the next Step.  Step Eleven suggest we seek through prayer (talking to God) and meditation (learning to listen to God) a greater conscious contact with our Heavenly Father, as we understand Him.  Probably the most effective set of clear-cut directions for doing this will be found on pages 86, 87 & 88 of the Big Book.  It was pointed out to me that God gave us two ears and one mouth.  A God given clue as to how much I should talk (pray) and how much I should listen (meditate).  That seems to improve our communication with Him.  Too, He has more answers than we have questions.



Why is it so necessary to pray only for the knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry it out?  Well, remember that we came to Alcoholics Anonymous because of our powerlessness, so we need to avail ourselves of His Power.  And in Steps Three and Seven, we made Him aware that He is now responsible for the way we think, the way we feel and the way we act.  Since He is now our Boss and we have promised to do His will always, it becomes vital that we check in with Him at the beginning of our day, throughout our day and again at bedtime seeking only the knowledge of He wants us to do and what we need to get the job done as He would have us.



The first set of directions, on page 86, show us how we can initiate the process of meditation by carefully reviewing our day and answering some very specific questions as we are ready to retire at night.  Each question, carefully considered and answered honestly can be an exercise in meditation.  There exists some confusion within our Fellowship as to  the difference between Step Ten and bedtime portion of Step Eleven.  Step Ten is to be practiced all day, every day and it also should involve another person, such as our sponsor.  The part of Step Eleven we are examining at this point is just between us and our Creator.  There should be nothing to distract us at bedtime so we can review how well we applied Steps Ten and Twelve in the quiet of our bedroom and in the presence only of  Him.  After meditating on our day, we pray that we be given what we need to do better tomorrow.



The next set of directions on page 86 has to do with getting ready to begin our new day.  It directs us to begin our meditation and prayer “on awakening”, not at some later time in the day.  Here, we are instructed on meditation, then prayer, then meditation.  We will also find some Promises on pages 86 & 87 resulting from these exercises. 



As we are ready to finish our visit with Him in the morning, it is suggested that we close with a prayer that we be given what we need to live the day ahead as He would have us.  Bill W. liked to pray Saint Francis’s Prayer as do many of us.  That Prayer is printed in Step Eleven in the “Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions”

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We have been given directions for arising and retiring but what about all that time in between?  The last paragraph on page 87 gives us simple directions on how to deal with those things about which we are in doubt or that upset us.  And with that simple set of suggestions are some neat Promises, but now we must go to work and the directions for doing that are in Step Twelve.



Step Twelve begins with a Promise, “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps,” we are then told how we are to use the time God has seen fit to give us.  Remembering that we are alive and sober only because of His grace and mercy, we are truly indebted to Him.  We must always remember that He is a God of grace and mercy and not a God of justice; thank God!!!. 



Our first responsibility is to “try to carry this message to alcoholics”.  That seems pretty simple but sometimes some of us are not too clear as to what that message is that we are charged to try to carry to alcoholics. It is very simply, “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps”.  That is the only message we are told we must try to carry but, of course, if we haven’t taken the Steps and had a spiritual awakening, we don’t have “this” message to pass on to the alcoholic who still suffers.



We are told that spiritual growth is the result of our intensive work with other alcoholics. (AA, pg. 89)  Or, as Bill reported, “For if an alcoholic failed to perfect and enlarge his spiritual life through work and self-sacrifice for others, he could not survive the certain trials and low spots ahead.” (AA, pg. 14 & 15)  And, “It is easy to let up on our spiritual program of action and rest on our laurels.  We are headed for trouble if we do.”  (AA, pg. 85) 



We are also told that alcoholics are not the only ones we are to be thoughtful of and should try to help.  “Our real purpose {in taking and applying these Steps to our daily lives}is to fit ourselves to be of maximum service to God and the people about us”.  (AA, pg. 77)  Everyone?  Yes, everyone; “We feel that elimination of drinking is but a beginning.  A much more important demonstration of our principles {Twelve Steps} lies before us in our respective home, occupations and affairs.” (AA, pg. 19)  Who or what does that leave out?



So there it is.  Take the Steps, receive God’s Power and try to pass it on to the other people that He put in our lives.  “We have recovered, and have been GIVEN THE POWER TO HELP OTHERS”  (AA, pg. 132)  What a wonderful opportunity we have been given!  But we can only keep His POWER as long as we try to give it away.



But as our good friend Wilson M. would say: 

                  

                   You can’t lead where you haven’t been.

                   You can’t teach what you haven’t learned.

                   You can’t be what you are not.

                  And you damn sure can’t give what you ain’t got!   







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