“Step 12 says “as a result” of these steps. It doesn’t say you can work on the steps if and only if you first have a spiritual awakening. So I needed to start over and work on steps 1-11 first. "
Our beloved Big Book states the 12th step as “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.”
This step is one of great hope! But I also found it to be one of great mystery. At least the part that screams out to me the phrase “spiritual awakening”. When I first entered into recovery, all I wanted was that spiritual moment that would immediately and automatically take away this darkness I was living through and magically make all my problems go away. I had this thought that if I could tap into my Higher Power and He would hear me right or I said things just the right way, then my Higher Power would take all this misery away. Like a lightning bolt out of the clear blue heaven, I could be healed and happy. Boom! Done! But that didn’t happen.
I do hear people say that in a matter of a heartbeat, the obsession for alcohol or drugs was taken away, and I believe that with all my being, but that didn’t happen for me. And a taking away of an obsession does not equate to a spiritual awakening as far as I am concerned. But I heard these claims and since it wasn’t my personal truth too, I thought “I must be doing it wrong”. “I must not be good enough”, “I must need to be punished longer”…….and the worst thought was that I must be forgotten. Maybe if I do this or I do that or I say this or I think that, God will hear me? The problem with these statements is they are all about the “I”. They are all about what I thought I should do. In reality, my spiritual awakening did not occur by any means of a checklist of “good enough” actions that I needed to accomplish. What it came by was deep soul searching to the depths of my pain in order to reach an end to myself and my control over this process. And then a surrender to a Higher Power to handle it perfectly without me getting in the way. I had to quit trying in my own power to meet an expectation of this moment and what I thought it needed to look like in order for it to be relevant and change my life. And I needed to stop doing anything except working through the steps, one moment and one step at a time.
Step 12 says “as a result” of these steps. It doesn’t say you can work on the steps if and only if you first have a spiritual awakening. So I needed to start over and work on steps 1-11 first. This needed to be my new checklist. Something I could do with my AA community. And then as a result of these steps and the enlightenment that came from that work, only then did I start to recognize a natural spiritual awakening.
My spiritual awakening did not come in the clap of a thunderbolt in a magical moment of sunshine, cotton candy clouds and glitter raindrops. It came gently, gracefully and lovingly in the form of the character of my Higher Power. My Higher Power knows my heart even better than myself and knew it needed to be gentle in order to have a long term effect. It needed to be graceful so I could recognize Gods unwavering and unrelenting work in me. It needed to be unconditionally loving so God could display his love for me and I could in turn love myself and then others. My Higher Power won’t overwhelm me with a smashing moment like explosive fireworks because, quite frankly, it would probably scare the daylights out of me. My Higher Power revealed true love to me over time as I could handle it. God knew best and I can now trust the process even when my patience is screaming for relief.
Don’t fear my friends, God has not forgotten you. God just loves you too much to let you think you are in control because there are better plans in store for your life. If you just slow down, work the steps, and trust your personal experience with your personal Higher Power, it will result in the spiritual awakening that you are promised. It will happen and will continue to happen over a lifetime. That’s the journey. That’s the promise of the 12 steps. No destination and no hurry. Just spiritual moments, crafted together for you, along with your willingness, in order to allow you to experience real and true meaning. Love is abounding in this process. Love has your back! So be still, be gentle with yourself and breathe in the moments….eventually you will look back and see that you too have awakened.