Eleventh Step

Step 11

Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

When I came into Alcoholics Anonymous soe years ago, defeated at depth,  a miserable, drunken mum destroying precious lives and desperate as only the dying can be, I knew nothing of Step 11. In fact, it turned out I knew very little about anything that could bring peace, serenity and harmony into a life dictated by alcohol and the beckoning gates of insanity, and that ever-present first drink. What I thought was prayer, prior to AA, was a frequent rant at God for allowing my life to be such a mess, for making me miserable and for my father dying from cancer. Yes, I had tried church – I went every week for some years with my family, trying to capture what other people there had – but knowing I was only really there for the communion wine. And once around the altar just wasn’t enough for me! Still, there was always the sherry once I got home. As for meditation – well, that was something people who practiced Yoga did, wasn’t it?  It didn’t have any meaning in my life. And that turned out to be the problem; there was little meaning to my life, no matter how hard I tried, because I have the disease of alcoholism and living life on life’s terms was not an option for me. My solution, prior to coming into AA was always that first drink. And that led to the second, the third and drink-driving, blackouts, empty promises and remorseful  "I’m sorry"s – which were meaningless as soon as I hit the bottle again. What a revelation, therefore, when by the Grace of God as I understand Him, I made it into AA by the skin of my teeth to discover that there was a solution – a way out – and I was not alone. 

I was promised that if I took the 12 Steps, the only thing that AA could give me, I would recover and know a life way beyond my wildest dreams. Would I have this? Thank God I had just enough humility left from the beating alcohol had given me to say "yes". I got a sponsor and embarked on the Suggestions and 12 Step programme, taking actions I did not yet believe in, but knowing there was a power greater than me. This power was God as I understood Him, and through sponsorship and daily prayer where I hand my will and my life  over to the care of my God, I have found a God that is just and patient  and wants the best for me. Having worked through the 12 steps with my sponsor, I arrived at Step 11 and read the chapter on this step, as it is laid out in the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous.

I began to understand that by having a daily reprieve in happy sobriety from this fatal condition of mind and body, I needed to continually ask God’s Will for me and try to align my thinking and actions to whatever that may be – rather than demanding that my ideas and wishes be met. This is what I had done in the past – I had continually made demands, and very often got what I asked for!.  This did not always turn out to be the best for me and I have learnt not only to be careful what I pray for, but also to keep myself out of prayer. I have no idea what God has in store for me but I do know that I can make my God say anything I want Him to! Thus, after early experiences of going to my sponsor and saying "I have prayed around this and the answer I got is…" (and my sponsor saying "talk to you, did He?") I realized that I was still simply putting my slant on the things I perceived to be best for me. So I believe my sponsor to be the human link between my Higher Power and me, the voice of cool detachment and reason when I am impatiently hellbent on ‘finding the answer’, or impatient over some life event. If Prayer can be described as talking to God, then meditation is where I listen and try to clear my mind so I can do His will. This is not always easy with the head I have got, but I have been encouraged to just keep trying, on a daily basis, to maintain that contact and do the best I can.

Provided I make the effort, it seems that my life goes in the right direction and, indeed, I am blessed by all that I have been given. As Prayer and Meditation is such a personal thing and there is no right or wrong way, I have been very grateful for a sponsor and home group where literature is available and there are suggested reading lists to help me. I am an alcoholic with a butterfly brain and I constantly find myself drifting away from my focus of meditation – normally to plan tonight’s meal or what happened at work; but then I just pray for guidance and re-direction by repeating the prayer "Lord make me a channel of Thy peace."  For an alcoholic of my type who was on the verge of losing everything, I have been given the keys to the kingdom, a way of living life happily sober and a miraculous demonstration of what life can be like if I continue to put God, this programme and remaining sponsorable, at the centre of my life. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of this programme, I must try to continue to live on a spiritual basis and give back all that has been so freely given to me. Nothing short of my Higher Power’s work in my life could have brought about these changes. and I pray I will always remain as deeply grateful for this miracle as I am today.

Gail M.,  Road to Recovery group, Plymouth