This week’s HTYH is more about Step Five, “Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.” Bill Wilson called Step Five vital and on page 59 of his book titled 12 Steps & 12 Traditions he said: “Why do we need to bring anybody else into this?”
At this stage, the difficulties of trying to deal rightly with God by us are two-fold. Though we may at first be startled to realize that God knows all about us, we are apt to get used to that quite quickly. Somehow, being alone with God doesn’t seem as embarrassing as facing up to another person. Until we sit down and talk aloud about what we have so long hidden, our willingness to clean house is still largely theoretical. When we are honest with another person, it confirms that we have been honest with ourselves and with God.
The second difficulty is this: what comes to us alone may be garbled by our own realization and wishful thinking. The benefit of talking to another human is that we can get his direct comment and consul on our situation, and there can be no doubt in our minds what that advice is. Going it alone in spiritual matters is dangerous. How many times have we heard well-intentioned people claim the guidance of God when it was all too plain that they were sorely mistaken? Lacking both practice and humility, they had deluded themselves and were able to justify the most errant nonsense on the ground that this was what God had told them. It is worth nothing that people of very high spiritual development almost always insist on checking with friends and spiritual advisors the guidance they feel they have received from God. Surely, then a novice ought not lay himself open to the chance of making foolish, perhaps tragic blunders in this fashion. While the comment or advice of others may by no means be infallible, it is likely to be far more specific than any direct guidance we may receive while we are still so inexperienced in establishing contact with a power greater than ourselves.
Our next problem will be to discover the person in whom we are to confide. Here we ought to take much care, remembering that prudence is a virtue that carries a high rating. Perhaps we shall need to share facts about ourselves that no others ought to know. We shall want to speak with someone who is experienced, who not only has stayed dry but has been able to surmount other serious difficulties. Difficulties, perhaps, like our own. This person may turn out to be one’s sponsor, but not necessarily so. If you have developed a high confidence in him, and his temperament and problems are close to your own, then such a choice will be good. Besides, your sponsor already has the advantage of knowing something about your case.
Perhaps, though, your relation to him is such that you would care to reveal only a part of your story. If this is the situation, by all means do so, for you ought to make a beginning as soon as you can. It may turn out, however, that you’ll choose someone else for the more difficult and deeper revelations. This individual may be entirely outside of A.A., for example, your clergyman or your doctor. For some of us, a complete stranger may prove the best bet.