Step 12 – Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to (name the addiction) and practice these principles in all our affairs. (*)
In most 12 Step Programs when people talk about 12 Stepping they refer to carrying the 12 Step message to others who suffer from addiction. Certainly reaching out to help others is an important part of this Step, but it’s only a part.
There are actually four parts to Step 12:
- A spiritual awakening.
- Working all 12 Steps.
- Carrying the message.
- Practicing the principles.
A spiritual awakening
The exact nature of a spiritual awakening means something different to almost everyone in the Program. According to Bill’s Story (p,1 in the Big Book, one of our founders had the kind of experience that some refer to as the “room lights up” happening.
Mine has been more of the” educational variety” spoken of in the chapter, Spiritual Experience on page 567. I’ve gradually become more and more aware of what I call Spirit and found much of it, not all, inside myself.
I’ve explored various churches and systems and gained from each one.
As near as I can tell our real job is to stay open to that still small voice, however it appears for us.
Working all 12 Steps
The opening phrase, “having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps…” makes it crystal clear our solution is in working all the Steps. Which, not so by the way, come in order. And, if Dr. Bob’s story which begins on p. 171, is to believed, they can all be worked in a long afternoon and evening.
I’ve been part of Step Studies that complete the all 12 in as little as six weeks. I’ve dropped out of one that had me working Step 4 for weeks – I found myself mired down in negativity that felt more self-indulgent than helpful.
In other words, in my experience, there is no reason to delay. Or to take a great deal of time to work each step. They become part of a life-time practice.
Carrying the message
This is where we reach out to help others who suffer from the same addiction we’ve suffered from. Because we have so much in common with them it’s much more likely they will be able to hear what we have to say.
Although carrying the message is part of Step 12, I went along with others on 12 Step calls within the first few weeks of my sobriety. I don’t remember if we actually convinced the drunks in question to try an AA meeting, but it sure helped keep me on track.
In my other programs I’ve put my name down as being willing to be called pretty quickly. I’ve always been careful not to do 12 Step work alone, even now, unless it’s just answering a phone call. But service continues to be a integral part of my recovery.
Practicing the principles
Neither the Big Book nor the 12 and 12 have a list of principles, not as such. But we 12 Steppers love lists!
If you google something like what are the principles of the 12 step program you’ll get many pages listing 12 principles, each of which corresponds to one of the steps. The history of this list is unclear. And I’ve never been sure such a list is particularly useful.
What is clear is that if we’re working the Steps, if we let our lives be guided by the Steps, we will be practicing the principles embodied in them.
There’s a lot of material to think about in Step 12. In many ways it sums up both the promises and the Steps of our Program.
Love, blessings, and abundance,