This week’s, “Here’s To Your Health,” is a continuation of a discussion about Step Ten. Sgt. Bill S. in his book, On The Military Firing Line, said Step Ten is about reorganization: Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it. The inventory process is not a one-time endeavor. Personal daily inventory must be continued because our lives, our attitudes and actions, as well as those people around us, are in constant change. Life itself is full of changes and even years after we obtain sobriety, alcoholics (and obviously drug addicts too) still find themselves encountering new kinds of adversities. And, in the process of meeting these adversities we gain the rewards of further spiritual growth. We cannot prevent adversities from happening; our only choice is to regard them as opportunities for growth becoming ever more tolerant and flexible, or get ground up by them.
As we work to adjust to these new challenges, it is important to remember if we again become ensnared by resentment, intolerance, pettiness, envy, fear and self-centeredness, we will fail to adapt successfully. But, if we remain constantly on guard against such emotional unrest it will help ease the pain and frustration of the adjustments we must make.
In the beginning of our new way of life, we find ourselves having to think consciously about making these adjustments. And, if we fail to notice resentment, fear, remorse, guilt and shame growing again; we become acutely miserable. At this point we must remind ourselves we are headed down the road to defeat by practicing a life-losing strategy. At the beginning of our recovery, Step Ten, requires a great deal of thought and practice, but with maturity and increasing length of sobriety, this life saving practice becomes almost automatic.
Professor Chesnut in his book, The Higher Power Of The Twelve-Step Program, said, “In my own observation, everybody I have ever met in the twelve-step program who had a lot of serenity regularly used a technique that worked in some way that had the same practical effect. They stopped thinking so much about their difficulty, whatever it was, and instead thought about spiritual matters. Instead of thinking “poor me,” they thought about something to be grateful for, or something positive they could still do, or some way they could be of service to others. Whenever they became angry about people, places or things, they quietly walked outside and admired the skies, trees and flowers—God’s creation—until they regained inner peace. Instead of being filled with self-righteous, superior rage and contempt, they remembered who they used to be, and how much God had forgiven them, until they again felt compassion and empathy.
We call these spiritual awakenings—sudden insights, or moments of clarity when we finally hear something that’s already been told to us 4,285 times before without our paying any attention—but the awakening process works, and it works for everyone who regularly attends twelve-step meetings and actually works all 12 steps. This is part of what has traditionally been called the work of grace. St. Augustine called it a kind of “illumination,” and it became a central topic for theologians and philosophers for centuries afterwards. Bill Wilson’s book Alcoholics Anonymous (third edition) on page 84 said, “We suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves!”