I recently read an article about a “Recovery High School,” where students get their high school diploma while they learn to live a sober life. In this school students are required to take classes on the 12 Steps to graduate. I find this idea fascinating. I wonder if my life may have turned out differently if I had been required to study the 12 Steps as a young man. In this 2nd blog on the 12 Steps, I want to focus on 2 of the 3 steps commonly referred to as decision steps.
Step 1 says, “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.” The 12 Steps aren’t exclusive to alcoholism any more. 12 Step groups exist for everything from alcohol and drugs to pornography and unhealthy sexual behavior to our obsession with food. I would argue that everyone’s life is unmanageable and out of control more often than we want to admit. Who hasn’t experienced the unexpected loss of a job, the end of a marriage or a relationship that you tried desperately to hang on to, or a health crisis in your life or the life of a loved one where you realized there was absolutely nothing you could do about it? We all experience powerlessness. It’s so difficult for those of us in the U.S. or western culture to admit there’s anything we can’t control or overcome on our own.
This step begins by assuming our powerlessness. The only question is whether we realize it or are willing to admit it. In my attempt to deny the truth I allowed myself to descend to a place of hopelessness. It was there, in my hopelessness, that I experienced the gift of desperation. Well intentioned friends and family members had stolen that gift from me in times past but when I was finally allowed to experience that wonderful gift, that’s when I came to believe that a Power greater than myself could restore me to sanity. Step 2.
I think Step 2 was so hard for me because I had grown up in the church. As a child I went forward and prayed a prayer and asked Jesus to come into my heart. Then people spent years teaching me that if Jesus really was in my heart I would follow all the rules, I would obey my parents, I wouldn’t cuss or smoke, and I would do all the other things that would make me a “good boy.” I’m not sure if it was the way I was taught or the way I misunderstood what I was taught but I equated willpower with the power that was supposed to change me and I can tell you for a fact that willpower never allowed me to accomplish anything for long. Experiencing the gift of desperation allowed me to see clearly that the Power greater than myself couldn’t come from anything associated with me, so willpower wasn’t an option.
Step 2 ignited a hope in my heart that maybe recovery, sanity, really was possible. Next week we will take a look at Step 3. If you have questions about recovery or the 12 Steps, feel free to shoot me a message. email@example.com