Step 7

We have experienced humility in previous steps.  In fact, the humility it takes to admit to powerlessness in the first step is often where we begin to experience humility as a necessity.  However, this is only a beginning.  To gain a vision of humility as the avenue of true freedom of the spirit takes most of us a long time.  After all, a whole life geared toward self-centeredness cannot be overcome all at once.  To be truly humble is to accept and honestly try to be ourselves.  It is as much a part of remaining clean and sober as water is to staying alive.  Ultimately, step seven is our opportunity to willingly try humility in seeking the removal of our other shortcomings, just as we did when we admitted that we were powerless over our addiction. 

Since we humbly admitted to our powerlessness in step one, the following steps have served to sow the seeds of humility in our spirits that will begin to grow in this step.  Specifically, in the first six steps, we began to learn our part in things.  Where we used to believe situations happened to us, we now see how we often created those situations.  We stop blaming others for our lot in life and begin to realize that where we have ended up has been determined mostly by the choices we have made.  But, humility is a sense of our own humanness.  By grasping it properly, we are better able to realize that we and others are truly human and make decisions both good and bad, with the hope that things turn out well. 

In previous steps, we also worked to form a relationship with the God of our understanding.  In step two, we first began to think about a Higher Power that could help us find recovery.  In step three, we made a decision to trust our Higher Power with the care of our will and our lives.  In step four, we leaned on our Higher Power to get us through and then shared with our Higher Power the most intimate details of our lives in step five.  During step six, we realized that our Higher Power can do more for us than simply help us to remain clean and sober. 

That work we did to build our relationship with the God of our understanding in the previous steps will pay off as we proceed with step seven.  During this step, we are encouraged to humbly ask the God of our understanding to remove our shortcomings.  This involves honest communication with our Higher Power in whatever way we deem acceptable (prayer, for example).  During this step, we are also encouraged to take action in the form of inviting our Higher Power to work in our lives.  We cannot keep a distant relationship with our Higher Power and expect to experience change through their presence.  This action will take the spiritual principles of trust, faith, patience, and of course, humility.  Today you can remain patient during the process and incorporate humility into your everyday life.  Today you can trust that your Higher Power will work in your life and have faith that you will experience change. 

(Photo by Ben White on Unsplash)

Step 3

In the first two steps, we engaged in reflection.  We realized that we were powerless over addiction, but also realized that faith is possible.  Although they required our acceptance, these conclusions did not require any action.  Starting with step three, the remaining steps require affirmative action.  Faith is certainly necessary, however, it will not be sufficient to achieve a successful recovery on its own.  In step three we are asked to make a decision.  This decision is based on faith.  Specifically, a decision to believe that there is a force for spiritual growth that can help us in obtaining and maintaining a successful recovery.  A decision to change direction, to stop rebelling at the natural and logical flow of events in our lives.  A decision to stop wearing ourselves out trying to make everything happen as if we were in charge of the world.  Ultimately, we are accepting that a Power greater than ourselves will do a better job of caring for our will and our lives than we have. 

Prior to becoming sober, our will and our lives were often times controlled by our addiction.  We were trapped by our need for instant gratification that alcohol gave us.  At first, this may have been a pleasurable experience, but after some time, the euphoria wore off and we saw the ugly side of our addiction.  We discovered that the better alcohol made us feel when we were consuming it, the worse it made us feel when we weren’t.  It is at this point that we have to make a decision.  Either we can suffer through the pain of withdrawal or drink more; or we can look for another way.  In step three it is suggested that “another way” can be obtained by turning our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand him.  At this point you might wonder what will happen to you if you continually turn your will over to something/someone else.  It is this kind of thinking that takes no account of the facts.  The facts, in this instance, seem to be that the more we are willing to depend on a Higher Power, the more independent we will be.  

We might wonder at this time who our Higher Power is and what our Higher Power’s will is for us.  Our Higher Power’s will for us will manifest as we work the steps, however, it is suggested that we choose an understanding of a Higher Power that is loving, caring, and greater than ourselves.  This could be a variety of things.  Some examples include God, nature, the twelve-step group, the spiritual principles of the twelve-step group, or any personal power or being in which we can communicate.  Once we begin to have an understanding of what/who our Higher Power is, it is important that we begin to form a relationship with that Higher power.  This will include being able to communicate with our Higher Power, being open to communication from our Higher Power, and having feelings about our Higher Power.  As we mature in our recovery, we will begin to form an understanding of our Higher Power that gives us peace and serenity.  At this point, if we are willing to surrender and be open-minded, our fear starts to lessen and faith starts to grow.  We no longer have to fight fear, anger, guilt, self-pity, or depression.  We are slowly beginning to lose the paralyzing fear of hopelessness.   Today you can turn your life and your will over to the God of your understanding.  Today you can shed the weight that self-will carries with it.  Today you can overcome hopelessness! 

(Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash)

Prayer

“Whether we realize it or not, prayer is the encounter of God’s thirst with ours. God thirsts that we may thirst for him.” – St. Augustine.”

James 5:17-18 Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.

Acts 16:25-26 But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake so that the foundations of the prison were shaken, and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed.

Matthew 8:2-3 A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy.

Ephesians 3:16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being.

Prayer is freeing. Prayer is healing. Prayer is a sign of faith. PRAYER IS POWERFUL. In times of struggle and times of happiness, it is extraordinarily freeing, healing, and powerful to reach out to God in prayer. Prayer can heal, save, and set free. Whatever you decide to pray for, make sure to do it faithfully and often! Today you can find peace, freedom, healing, and power in prayer!

In closing, I would like to leave you with My Prayer, a prayer I wrote:

Father, help me to get through this day, for this, I pray!  Help me to do what’s right and not live only by sight.  Father, show me the path you would have me walk and help me to remember you are my foundation- more solid than a rock!  Please forgive me when I do wrong and help me to stay strong.  Help me to show respect and never neglect.  Help me to forgive those who wrong me and show them the Christian way to be!  Help me to show them why we are here and that you are the only GOD to fear.  Father, help me to always make the right decision and to wisdom always listen.  Give me the guidance I seek and help me from becoming weak!  Help me to remember you’re the reason I’m alive, and for goodness, I should strive.  Now, Father, I would like to thank you for all that you do!  Thank you for this day and allowing me to live this way, thank you for my wonderful family, without them I don’t know where I would be.  Thank you for giving me opportunity even though I sometimes live stupidly.  I want to thank you, especially for sending Jesus to the cross, I know because of that my sins are lost!  Now Father, please be with me until we talk again…  Amen.

(Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash )

Align With Your Higher Power’s Will

We will go more in depth regarding the 12 steps in Alcoholics/Narcotics Anonymous (AA/NA) later on, but for now I would like to talk briefly about the second step, which is: “we came to be aware that a Power greater than ours could restore us to sanity”   Without going in depth into the second step (which we will do later on), AA and NA call us to have faith in a Higher Power.  Your Higher Power may vary from mine, which is fine.  I call my Higher Power “God” and believe that it is His will that I remain sober.

In the Bible the apostle Paul tells Timothy to stop drinking only water and use a little wine for medical reasons (1 Timothy 5:23).  And Jesus’ first miracle involved turning water into wine (John 2:3-11).  Due to these passages one might surmise that the act of drinking alcohol in itself is not a sin or wrong.  Which I agree with, but there are also many instances in the Bible where becoming drunk is viewed as wrong or a sin.  In Ephesians 5:18 God says “do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery”. In Proverbs 31:4 it says that ‘it is not for rulers to crave beer”.

As someone with the disease of addiction I cannot ensure that I can consume alcohol at a rate which will keep me from becoming drunk.  In fact, I would say if I were to drink alcohol again, more often than not, I would become drunk. Because of this then, it is my belief that it is God’s will for me to remain sober.

There are a few prayers I would like to introduce in hopes you may find peace in them, if even just for the moment.  The first is the Serenity Prayer, the second is the Third Step Prayer, and the third is my prayer:   

Serenity Prayer

God, grant me the serenity to except the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.   

Third Step Prayer

God, I offer myself to you to build with me and to do with me as you will.  Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do your will.  Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of your power, your love, and your way of life.  May I do this always. 

My Prayer

God, help me to get through this day, for this I pray!  Help me to do what’s right and not live only by sight.  God, show me the path you would have me walk and help me to remember you are my foundation; more solid than a rock!  Please forgive me when I do wrong and help me to stay strong.  Help me to show respect and never neglect.  Help me to forgive those who wrong me and show them the right way to be!   God, help me to always make the right decision and to wisdom always listen.  Give me the guidance I seek and help me from becoming weak!  Help me to remember you’re the reason I’m alive and for goodness I should strive.  Now God I would like to thank you for all that you do!  Thank you for this day and allowing me to live this way, thank you for my wonderful family, without them I don’t know where I would be.  Thank you for giving me opportunity even though I sometimes live stupidly.  God please be with me until we talk again…  Amen.

As I stated earlier, your Higher Power may be different than mine, which is totally fine.  What is important in this context is that you do have a Higher Power that you can go to in times of difficulty.  Whoever or whatever that Higher Power might be, I hope it brings you peace.  Today you can align with your higher power’s will! Today you can remain sober!

(Photo by  Joshua Earle on Unsplash)

Hope

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

  • Isaiah 40:31- But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles.  They will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint.
  • In Isaiah 40:31, the Lord says, “those who have hope in me will not be disappointed.”
  • In Jeremiah 29:11, the Lord declares His plans for our future, plans to prosper us and not to harm us, plans to give us hope and a future.
  • Proverbs 3:5 tells us to trust in the Lord with all our hearts and not lean on our own understanding. 

There have been times when I have lost hope.  Looking back, those were some of the most depressing times of my life.  It felt like I couldn’t get any further down. Like it was the end and nothing was going to get better.  Times when I contemplated suicide and began partaking in reckless behavior.  Times when I lost sight of God.  Every day I continued my journey down that path; those feelings of loneliness, hopelessness, and depression only worsened.  Nothing ever got better on my walk down that path.  The only solace I have ever found when it comes to emerging from that darkness is in turning to the light of God.  In those times, down that path, my strength was renewed.  I was not weary.  Believing in God’s plan for me and trusting Him has not left me disappointed.  Trust, believe, and HOPE in Him and disappointment will allude you as well.  Today you can dare to hope that things can and will get better!

(Photo by John Towner)

Perseverance

“Patience and perseverance have a magical effect, before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish”. – John Quincy Adams.

  • Hebrews 10:36- You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God you will receive what He has promised. 
  • Hebrews 11:27- By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger, he persevered because he saw Him who is invisible.  
  • James 5:11- As you know we count those blessed that have persevered.  You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about.  The Lord is full of compassion and mercy. 
  • James 1:12- Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him. 

Every day brings its own problems (temptation, greed, lust, agony, pride) the list goes on and on.  There is hope however!  We can choose, like Job and Moses, to persevere and overcome whatever the problem is that life has thrown at us today.  Persevering today will reap us benefits tomorrow.  Be strong, be courageous, do not fear, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.  God has said that He will never give us more than we can handle, and those that persevere He has promised the crown of life.  Today you can persevere!  

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(Photo by Jason Hogan)