My wife Julee in her younger years
October 7, 2021
The Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous (Part Two) (Continuation of last week’s post to Steps 2 through 4.)
Step 2) “Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”
“Sanity…” Is there “insane” and “sane,” with nothing in between? Or might there be a sanity spectrum? Most of us have done some insane things in our lives, made some insane decisions! I would venture to say that our world is in the condition it is in because of countless decisions and choices by countless people that were short of being “sane” choices and decisions.
In Alcoholics Anonymous, the belief is that we can only be “restored” to who we were created and meant to be (our “Original Design”) with the help of a higher, greater power outside of ourselves. What I call “Virtues” in Little Book of Virtues, are called “Fruits of the Spirit” in the Christian Bible. They are called Fruits of the Spirit because of the belief that they are the fruits of the very nature and character of God! Since we are created in the image of God, they are at the heart of our very nature and character as well. Who wouldn’t want the help of a “higher” or “greater” power in restoring those virtues to our nature and character?
Step 3) “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.”
In AA, a decision is made to align one’s will with God’s will. Each of us may have slightly different ideas of what God’s will is, for our lives individually and for mankind corporately. Personally, I choose to believe that God’s will is largely that his children would live their lives loving one another; loving one another creatively and constantly in an expression of all the virtues.
When we’re doing that, within us is “The Kingdom of God.” Or, “The Realm of God.” “The Kingdom of God is within you,” said Jesus. Jesus also taught his disciples to pray, “May your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.” My hope and prayer is that Little Book of Virtues might be an aid to us in “aligning our will with God’s will,” and thus inviting that dwelling place (kingdom, or realm) of God within us.
Step 4) “Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.”
Alcoholics Anonymous has great resources at their disposal! They don’t need Little Book of Virtues, and I wasn’t thinking of AA when I wrote it. But because of the way my AA friends responded to the book, I was compelled to look at how AA and Little Book of Virtues might intersect. The 4th step (above) is another example of that intersection. How exactly does one “make a searching and fearless moral inventory” of oneself? Little Book of Virtues encourages contemplation and action of fifty-two virtues. In doing so, we are taking a “moral inventory.” Any one virtue might be a strength in my life and a weakness in yours. And vice versa. We discover our strengths and weaknesses in the virtues as we take this “inventory” of reading, contemplating and acting on each virtue. The more time and effort we spend in that“searching” inventory, the more likely we are to grow in the virtue!
Stay tuned for Steps 5 and beyond in next week’s blog post!
I’ve never claimed to be an “AA Blackbelt”, but someone who practices AA religiously would probably say God is a loose term. It mainly means “A God of your understanding”. Which is still a controversial subject but it allows the Atheist to join AA without feeling offended or left out.
This is also where I believe the “Little Book of Virtues” holds the most information as to what is expected of both an AA member and people in general. It’s exciting to see something that takes the Big Book one step further and explains what virtues are. Of course, I don’t think this book captures everything regarding virtues, but given time, maybe there will more books that bring more virtues into light.