Aug 21

Carrying the Message

Step Twelve… and then you may hear people say that they have finished the Steps but this is far from true. This is just the beginning.  There is an entire chapter in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous devoted to the Twelfth Step.  It is the summing up of all that we have done so far and all that we must do moving forward.  There is no end to this step.  The full expression of true and lasting change lies in working what we have learned in every part of our lives.

 “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others and to practice these principles in all our affairs.”  ~ Step Twelve

Maybe you’ve heard the expression “psychic change” in relation to AA.  This is the spiritual awakening, the experience that brings all healing.  It is the cure for the spiritual malady and the answer to the question of how to rebuild a life.  No doubt you are truly a changed person if you have worked the Steps thoroughly.  By practicing the principles of the Twelve Steps with complete devotion and rigorous honesty in all things recovery lasts a lifetime.

Living in the knowledge and presence of a Higher Power has restored us.  Life is already better than we ever could have imagined.  It is probably quite different than the way we would have planned it ourselves and for that we are grateful.  This is not an experience we will keep to ourselves.  We are driven to share it with those who still suffer.

The top of page 89 says, “Practical experience shows that nothing will so much insure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics. It works when other activities fail. This is our twelfth suggestion: Carry this message to other alcoholics! You can help when no one else can. You can secure their confidence when others fail.”

This is true for all of us.  Not just for alcoholics and addicts but for the co-dependent, the grieving, the abused and every emotional condition imaginable.  If we have found healing in recovery we will want to share it and if we hope for healing that lasts we will need to do it on a very regular basis.

Barefoot’s World explains it nicely, “When we work with others, OUR lives change. We don’t help another alcoholic because THEY are sick, we help another alcoholic because WE are sick, and part of our program of recovery is that we need to be helping others. In the second paragraph on page 89, the authors give us SOME of the results of working Step 12 otherwise known as some of the Twelfth Step Promises.”

The second paragraph on page 89 says, “Life will take on new meaning. To watch people recover, to see them help others, to watch loneliness vanish, to see a fellowship grow up about you, to have a host of friends – this is an experience you must not miss. We know you will not want to miss it. Frequent contact with newcomers and with each other is the bright spot of our lives.”

We find joy in recovery. When we work with someone who is suffering as we have we reinforce all that we have learned.  Knowing that we have truly been in their shoes and found healing puts us in a place to return some of what we’ve been given and much to our surprise we are given even more. In the end we realize that we are simply instruments.  God moves through us and speaks, delivering words of encouragement for us and for those we hope to help. Carrying the message to others continues the healing in our lives too.

We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.”  ~ Promise Twelve

Once again I recommend getting a copy of the Big Book and reading through this chapter for yourself.  People outside the program often resist the idea of reading a book written by alcoholics for alcoholics.  I have never understood this.  These stories of experience, strength and hope can be applied to nearly any situation where life has become unmanageable.   Of course there are many other wonderful Twelve Step publications that provide information on all of the Steps as they relate to specific conditions or addictions.  I do love the Big Book but I say read whatever appeals to you most or read more than one if you like, find a meeting or a support group, find a sponsor or mentor and work the Steps.  The program always works if you work it.
Recommended Reading:

The AA Big Book and Guide for Working the Twelve Steps are recommended reading for anyone in recovery of any kind, not only because they were the first but also for their inspirational and direct content. Two great resources for those working the Steps for codependency are also included here. More books on 12 Step Work from other fellowships and programs can be found in the “Steps” drop down list under “Programs and Literature.”

Featured image for this page taken from Hazelden 12 Step Pamphlet Collection – The Complete 12 Step Collection used by patients in recovery centers throughout the nation, these easy-to-read editions are a sure way to gain a basic, and yet thorough, understanding of the significance of each Step. Pamphlets are available individually or in a money-saving full collection.

Recommended Links:

The questions above are fairly generalized in order to apply to a variety of conditions. The basics are the same but if you are working the Steps specifically for drug/alcohol abuse or codependency the following links may help you to explore further. There are many other formats and workbooks available through a simple web search.

12 Step Worksheets

CoDA 12 Step Worksheets

Barefoot’s Intro to Working the Steps


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