Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood [God], praying only for knowledge of [God’s] will for us and the power to carry that out.
Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs. Steps 10, 11, and 12 of the Twelve Steps
(This post is the last in a series based on a book by Richard Rohr, Breathing under Water, which focuses on the relationship between spiritual formation and The Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. Look for past posts in the Category “Breathing Under Water” on the right sidebar of this blog)
And so we come to the last of the 12 steps. We began by
- admitting powerlessness
- believing that only a power greater than ourselves could save us
- by surrendering control of our lives
- taking a moral inventory of our lives
- by confessing “the exact nature of our wrongs: to God and to others
- becoming ready to have God remove our shortcomings
- asking God to remove our shortcomings
- making a list of those we have hurt and becoming ready to make amends
- actually making those amends
Now we learn an intentional process of continual transformation which is carried out in front of God and in a community that holds us accountable for each step in the process. The task is to recognize that the process is a life long endeavor – which may involve going through the process of surrender, inventory, confession, purging of “defects”, and making amends over and over again. (Step 10) But the process doesn’t stop there! Like all systems of spiritual formation, the Twelve Steps demand that we continually search for God’s will for our lives and that God’s will always involves sharing what we have learned with others. (Steps 11 and 12)
It has been said that we never truly know something until we have to teach it to someone else. Fr. Richard Rohr says, “We do not truly comprehend any spiritual things until we ourselves give it away” (Breathing Under Water, p. 107). He goes on to point out:
It is a karmic law of in and out, and what Jesus really meant when he sent the disciples to cast out devils, and to cure all kinds of diseases and sickness” (Matt. 10:1) or to “Go out to the world and proclaim the Gospel to all creation (Mark 16:16). He knew we had to hand the message over before we really understood it or could appreciate it ourselves. Over forty years as a preacher myself, I have no doubt that it has been my attempts to preach, teach, and counsel others that have re-convinced and partially converted me!” (p.107).
And beyond just helping us learn our lessons by teaching others, taking our inward journey outward is the message of Scripture: we are blessed to be a blessing, we are to follow in the steps of our Rabbi, we are to make disciples and to invite them into the kingdom. As someone long ago said, we are just “beggars showing other beggars where to find bread.” The circle of redemption is not complete until we, as “wounded healers” invite others into the process of transformation. Whether we are following the spirituality stated in the Twelve Steps or the spirituality stated by M. Robert Mulholland when he encouraged us to be “conformed to the image of Christ for the sake of others,” the process is the same: healing, wholeness, and allegiance to a new way of life
Blessings on your journey!