A few years ago I posted a blog correlating my healing process with a 12 step program similar to the 12 steps for Alcoholics Anonymous. I received quite a few positive responses at the time about how it helped others to have this simple direction that has proven successful for over 80 years.
It came to mind again this morning in prayer. Over the past year I feel as if I’ve been doing a ‘personal inventory’ of where I am in life, where God desires me to be, and what I need to do in order to move forward out of a stagnant place. Making a personal inventory can be simple, implementing and sticking to the changes you know need to happen is the difficult part.
Moving forward means change that breaks you from a comfort zone. Even change from something negative to positive is difficult when you’ve become accustomed to the negative. This could be a move away from an abusive relationship, friendship or even employment.
Sometimes we don’t make the move because we convince ourselves it would hurt others. What is worse is when we become the martyr convincing ourselves to stick with it because bettering ourselves would only topple the organization or the lives of those around us.
The danger in the ‘martyr’ mindset is when the reality is misconstrued. The definition of martyrdom is ‘a display of feigned or exaggerated suffering to obtain sympathy or admiration’. Often martyrdom hinders and hurts those around you rather than keeping them ‘safe’.
- You don’t want to speak out because it’ll hurt those around you to know the truth. But because you don’t speak out the same abuse can happen to those around you causing that much more pain.
- You don’t leave the abusive relationship because you don’t want to break up a family. However, if you don’t leave the members of the family continue to witness or partake in the abuse often becoming the abuser or ending up with another abuser because it is their ‘norm’.
- You don’t leave an abusive environment (employment, friendship, etc) because of loyalty or fear you’ll never be able to replace what you are leaving behind with something more healthy. In reality that environment most likely is already ‘moved on’ or capable of moving forward which is why the environment is unhealthy.
Trusting in God’s plan for our life also means to embrace the fact he wants us to lead happy and healthy lives.
This truth is where I am today. Below I’ll reprint my original version of the 12 steps. Where do you believe you are in the process?
To best understand this let’s take a look at the Twelves Steps for AA (Alcoholics Anonymous as per Wikipedia.com)
1) We admit we are powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.
My Case – The moment I realized I didn’t want to be the person I had become (abusive, negative, mean, depressed)
2) Come to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
My Case – I saw Christ in Ryan that day that I realized Step 1, and that is what sent me face down on the floor
3) Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand Him.
My Case – I surrendered to God that night, on the floor, ‘take my life and do with it what You will’
4) Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
My Case – After that evening I began to recognize the areas that I was sinning. The behavior was no longer attractive to me or desirable.
5) Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
My Case – RECONCILIATION – getting ‘right’ with God
6) Were entirely ready to have God remove all of these defects of character.
My Case – I stopped the behavior as I recognized it. It was day by day.
7) Humbly ask Him to remove our shortcomings.
My Case – I prayed on my knees daily to become a better person. Still do!
8) Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
My Case – I can’t say I made a list, however, I did see the need to contact those I loved. I sat down a year or so after that key moment on my bedroom floor and wrote a letter to all of my siblings telling them that I loved them. Honestly, it could be another ‘step’ I revisit because often I don’t feel that I’m there enough for them as I am for so many others. But then again, I feel the least understood or accepted by them as well.
9) Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except to do so would injure them or others.
My Case – By the grace of God I’ve had the opportunity to meet with people from my past that I have needed to extend and apology to.
10) Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admit it.
My Case – as in the above…God gave me the grace to achieve this even when I didn’t realize it was a step needed to be done at the time.
11) Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understand Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
My Case – I live this daily
12) 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 of our affairs.
My Case – It has been my ministry to speak out and lead others to Christ.
I think we can all see how pertinent these steps are in ALL OF OUR LIVES. It isn’t a weakness to admit failure, it is only a weakness when we don’t try to do better. If you know someone who has succeeded in these steps through a program such as AA, give them a hug and acknowledge the work they’ve done to better their life.
If you or someone you know suffers from addiction, depression or eating disorders please go to the following sites to find your local meetings:
Depression Anonymous: www.depressionanonymous.org
ALANON (Friends and family of those in 12 step programs) www.al-non.alateen.org