As we get into the third part of the 12 Step Spiritual Principles List, it is important to note that this is where we really start to see some progress. Thus far, we have gotten honest with ourselves about our inability to control and manage our drinking or drugging, and we have developed hope that our disease can be defeated. It isn’t necessary that hope is bursting from the seams, as even a small glimmer will suffice.
Once again, here is the list of the spiritual principles:
Today we will discuss reasons why faith works for alcoholics, a small portion of the endless benefits, practicing faith, and how to make a beginning.
Let’s explore the principle of Step Three: FAITH
As we progress in our sobriety, the black cloud that has been hanging over our heads starts to fade away, we experience a clear head, and we begin making better decisions. We begin to see that our drinking was clearly out of control by simply looking at our track record. Our attempts to get or stay sober have been unquestionably unsuccessful. We have been disheartened by this, and hopefully have accepted that we are not God. This enables us realize that there is at least probably something out there that is greater than us. (I hope the last post helped in this respect).
Because we have failed at maintaining sobriety, we must now put our faith into a higher power. Temporarily, we are permitted to choose our support group or a person we look up to as our higher power. Eventually, we should choose an unchanging higher power, as people will make mistakes, cause you frustration, and let you down; this is life. Step three is “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.” Only the smallest beginning is required. No one expects that you will instantly have a spiritual experience; it is unlikely you will see a white light that changes your whole worldview
For me, I experienced what is called a spiritual experience of an educational variety. Seeing hard evidence (my life keeps getting better) is what was necessary to accept that my higher power is in control. I chose the Christian God of my childhood. My Dad read a picture book explaining the bible before I could read well. This greatly influenced my view of a loving and just God in which I could put my trust.
Benefits of Faith
From personal experience, faith has allowed me to let go of the past and stay in the present, while also looking forward to the future. Frankly, it also helps me be a better person. I no longer feel I must be on top of the world or am I am somehow less than. Being right sized helps me refrain from trying to get others to submit to my will.
People upset me less because I can accept they are sick too; I pray in the moment that they do not bring me to anger. Furthermore, I pray that I may be of some assistance to them. In the past, I always had grand plans that would change my life for the better. God laughs at our “plans.No one He likely thinks that they are all a bit ridiculous!
It is so much better acting as an agent of a being that knows what is best for us; I may not always be successful, as my will pops up more than I’d like to admit, I at least attempt to seek his guidance. After a period in sobriety, it is expected that you give back what was so freely given to you. “Faith without works is dead.” Instead of trying to fill the hole most of us filled with drugs and alcohol, helping people grants us a new purpose
I would never have created a site like this in my addiction. You could say that I have faith that people will read these posts and realize they are not alone in their addiction. If it encourages at least a few people to seek help, I have made a difference. Getting sober is no laughing matter. Getting honest with ourselves that no human power could have relieved our alcoholism is a major step in the right direction. Here is quick list of some benefits experienced by others:
- New lease on life
- Decrease in selfishness and self-seeking behavior
- Increased humility
- No longer fear people, places, and things
- Increased confidence in ability to repair the damage done
- Inner strength and peace (Our disease stops whispering in our ear so much).
Principle in Practice
Although slightly different for everyone, I will do a brief walk through of how I ACT in Faith. Every morning, I simply ask God that I do his will for the DAY. That’s it! I do not expound on this much more. I have been taught one prayer in support groups that works for me: “God, I offer myself to Thee To build with me & to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy love & Thy way of life. May I do Thy will always.”
This prayer sums up everything that I need to do throughout the course of the day. Letting God drive the car seems to make everything much easier. Every time I take my will back and push God over into the passenger seat, I inevitably get myself into some type of trouble. With this mindset, things work out much better and I am not bothered by other people’s action much.
This is not to say that it has made me entirely non-confrontational or a wuss. In many ways, it has helped me speak up for myself. In the past, I may have let people get away with nonsense like not pulling their weight, not considering other people when they make decisions, or simply acting like an ass. I would then let this fester in me and possibly go drink at my first opportunity. Holding onto resentments is disastrous for alcoholics. It is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.
Today, I rarely resent other people because they are immediately aware of where they stand with me. Remember, “NO” is a full sentence. When somebody asks you to do something that you can’t fit into your schedule or goes against your principles, a simple NO will suffice. I am still amazed today at how well this simple word works. The chips fall where they may. Do not confuse this with being a jerk, it is simply being straightforward and upfront with other people. In fact, every time we are not true to ourselves, we are being deceitful.
Making a Beginning
Progress, not perfection. This may be difficult for many of us, because perfectionism and alcoholism/drug addiction seem to coincide. To begin practicing Faith it is important not to make it out into something it isn’t. It isn’t about practicing religious sacraments (If this is part of you life and helps, it is advised you continue these practices). It is about asking something greater than you for help. This could be someone with more time sober than you, an A.A. group, or, hopefully, your higher power.
All that really needs to be said each day is HELP. This is difficult for many of us, but when we begin getting out of our own way, that is when the miracle will happen. It was told to me early on to ask for help in the morning and say thank you at night. Nothing more; nothing less. This is all that is required to make an honest beginning. As you progress in sobriety, you will surely explore more advanced faith practices, but keeping things simple is advised in early sobriety.
We should now understand this crucial principle. We were living on self will run amok. The delusion that we have been in control of our drinking/drugging had to be smashed. I have found that only a spiritual remedy will fix the allergy of the body and obsession of the mind.
Faith has been proven to work for alcoholics. This could be faith in the group at first, but should lead to accepting a higher power of your choosing. The benefits are many, and it requires little to make a beginning. We know a new peace and a new happiness letting our higher power run the show. It also sets the stage for practicing the remaining nine principles.
Ask for help, say thank you, practice tolerance, and help someone else!
Please share this post if it has helped or will help others close to you.