…The 12th Step, like 10 and 11, goes on forever. We never stop helping people and working with others. Why? One, because it helps us to maintain our mental and emotional health and stability. Two, when we sit down with another person, we are bringing God into the room and perhaps into the other person, and anything that expands the presence of God within heals us and keeps us sane. Three, because it also lifts us up emotionally, which is perfect for those of us who are somewhat preoccupied with feeling good. And four, because it sets in motion the law of cause and effect, so any selfless action all but guarantees a good return.
The opening quote of this book by Neale Donald Walsh asserts that “life begins at the end of our comfort zone.” This is perhaps the single most important thing for us addicts and alcoholics to understand if we truly want to recover and conquer ALL of our demons. It was by doing the very things I didn’t want to do that fixed me and made me stronger. Doing what scared me or made me uncomfortable, insecure and self-conscious is what repaired my mind and soul, enabling me to go from recovering to recovered. Making a tough amends, running a group or speaking publicly are good examples.
At times, we all feel like isolating, shutting off, going inward and avoiding people, places and things that push us out of our comfort zone. But this is exactly why the most important part of this process is to go work with other people. When we get up and force ourselves to sit with another addict who is suffering, it thrusts us out of isolation and lifts us up. It shifts our direction from the small and narrow world of self-focus to the colorful and limitless world of service. Giving, sharing and being with others is perhaps the greatest contributor to personal strength and adds the most to our reservoir of inner peace, relief and freedom.
More importantly, helping others to change changes the world. Since we are all inter-connected and made of energy, when someone is altered, the world is altered. In fact, the entire universe is altered, and this shift in the energy of the person you are working with will also have a positive effect on you. And that’s not fluff, that’s science. So try some service. It is like injecting spiritual medicine.
Taking Steps is just one of many spiritual traditions and programs of action that help to clean us out with honesty and humility so we may see things clearly, move forward and find some purpose. What’s most important is that we simply take right, positive action and grow along spiritual lines, Steps or not. If you find another method or program of action that works for you, that is wonderful. The point is to understand that if we are to walk away from the darkness and into the light, action will be required, not simply talking, studying, believing, or even praying for it. We cannot will ourselves better. We must act our way better.
The choice between the expansive, colorful world of growth versus the narrow, miserable world of stagnancy and selfishness should be easy. We can ingest emotional poison or we can ingest the magic of loving service. We can evolve and expand spiritually or we can remain shackled, narrow and mundane. We can work hard, do the right thing and make a difference or we can remain preoccupied with our selves and our concerns. We can walk backward or we can run forward. The choice is yours. Really, it is. Thank you for reading…