Is Your Recovery Pointless? What is the Point?
We have been trying to get a new attitude, a new relationship with our Creator, and to discover the obstacles in our path. We have admitted certain defects; we have ascertained in a rough way what the trouble is; we have put our finger on the weak items in our personal inventory. Now these are about to be cast out. This requires action on our part, which, when completed, will mean that we have admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being, the exact nature of our defects. This brings us to the Fifth Step in the program of recovery mentioned in the preceding chapter. (Alcoholics Anonymous pg 72)
In the first sentence what we have is a brief summary of the purpose and goals of working the originator of all Twelve Step programs. The list consists of three parts:
- a new attitude
- a new relationship with our Creator
- to discover the obstacles in our path
These three help take a deeper look at our goal in working the program and the destination. Knowing what the destination or the goal for you at the end of your recovery is has great importance. Consider these two quotes:
“If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.” – Author Unknown
“If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable.” – Seneca
The person in recovery who does not know what he or she is aiming for will not ever know if he or she gets there or even if he or she is still heading the right way or not. If you have no goal, then it doesn’t matter how well or poorly you do things, because all of it is pointless. This sentence from page. 72 is the compass for each of our Twelve Step recovery experiences.
These are the goals, but they appear logically in reverse order. Simply put:
We start by looking for the obstacles in our path. The obstacles to “what?” Again, if you cannot answer the question and know what the “what” is, you would not know the difference between looking at the obstacles and actually stacking up more obstacles. The “what” is the next one on the list: The “new relationship with” God.
We hope you are convinced now that God can remove whatever self-will has blocked you off from Him. If you have already made a decision, and an inventory of your grosser handicaps, you have made a good beginning. (Alcoholics Anonymous pg 69)
We have been blocked off from God and it is tied to “self-will.” We start to clear away what has been blocking us when we make a decision (Steps 1-3) and make an inventory (Step 4). The “self-will” part is a huge part of all that “blocked off from God” stuff and a root to our addictions or alcoholism.
Selfishness – self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles. (Alcoholics Anonymous pg. 62)
This is the how and why of it. First of all, we had to quit playing God. It didn’t work. Next, we decided that hereafter in this drama of life, God was going to be our Director. He is the Principal; we are His agents. He is the Father, and we are His children. (Alcoholics Anonymous pg. 62)
Selfishness or “playing God” keeps us from a deep relationship with God. Whatever we believe our relationship with God has been, we need to develop a new one. We may hate the word God, kinda believe in God, believe, or be a highly trained member of the clergy, but if you are working recovery, “a new relationship with our creator” is needed.
The steps are described here as cleaning up, or helping to clean up what has blocked you from Him in the past.
Once you reach the end of the program portion of the Alcoholics Anonymous book (pg 164) you are turned over from the care directions of the process to the direction of God.
Still you may say: “But I will not have the benefit of contact with you who write this book.” We cannot be sure. God will determine that, so you must remember that your real reliance is always upon Him. He will show you how to create the fellowship you crave.
Our book is meant to be suggestive only. We realize we know only a little. God will constantly disclose more to you and to us. Ask Him in your morning meditation what you can do each day for the man who is still sick. The answers will come, if your own house is in order. But obviously you cannot transmit something you haven’t got. See to it that your relationship with Him is right, and great events will come to pass for you and countless others. (Alcoholics Anonymous pg 164)
All of the Steps and all of the recovery information is admittedly a small amount of info in the lifelong process. When a person reaches and is living out the “maintenance steps” (Steps 10, 11 & 12 which are steps that are carried out every day) a part of that process is being turned over to God’s guidance.
When we backtrack to Step 10 we see how properly working the Steps is tied to the “New Relationship with our creator”:
Every day is a day when we must carry the vision of God’s will into all of our activities. “How can I best serve Thee – Thy will (not mine) be done.” These are thoughts which must go with us constantly. We can exercise our will power along this line all we wish. It is the proper use of the will.
Much has already been said about receiving strength, inspiration, and direction from Him who has all knowledge and power. If we have carefully followed directions, we have begun to sense the flow of His Spirit into us. (Alcoholics Anonymous pg 85)
The reason we are supposed to “sense the flow” better if we “carefully followed directions” is because we worked at removing what has been blocking us from a deep relationship with Him.
Step 11 is far more directly concerned with deepening our relationship with God. There is far more to this concept, but the basic idea is talking to and listening to God. That is the building of the relationship.
11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out. (Alcoholics Anonymous pg 59)
Now think about the second part of Step 11; what you pray for. We are to pray to know His will and for the strength to actually do what His will is. This is the foundation of the “new attitude” we were talking about. Couple that with the destruction of “selfishness and self-centeredness” and throw in the rest of the details covered in the “maintenance steps (Steps 10, 11 & 12) and you have not only a new attitude, but a new way of living.
As a new person, with a new attitude you will do new things. As the same old person, with the same old attitude, you will probably do the same old things or worse.
All of us must look for the things that put distance in our relationship with God. Then once those things are as out of the way as we each are capable of, we make a conscious effort to deepen the relationship with Him constantly. Then we let Him direct our thoughts as the both the source of our “new attitude” and as the “new attitude itself.”
I leave you today with this strong message describing the importance of this understanding and about what we need to do to recover:
Perhaps there is a better way – we think so. For we are now on a different basis; the basis of trusting and relying upon God. We trust infinite God rather than our finite selves. We are in the world to play the role He assigns. Just to the extent that we do as we think He would have us, and humbly rely on Him, does He enable us to match calamity with serenity.
We never apologize to anyone for depending upon our Creator. We can laugh at those who think spirituality the way of weakness. Paradoxically, it is the way of strength. The verdict of the ages is that faith means courage. All men of faith have courage. They trust their God. We never apologize for God. Instead we let Him demonstrate, through us, what He can do. We ask Him to remove our fear and direct our attention to what He would have us be. At once, we commence to outgrow fear. (Alcoholics Anonymous pg 68)
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