Steps Three and Eleven
I’VE LEARNED that the better I can “practice these principles” in all my affairs, as the Twelfth Step suggests, the better my life works. To help me extend the program into my everyday life, I use a particular set of prayerful attitudes that incorporate the Third and Eleventh Steps.
Before entering any situation, be it business, social, or otherwise (and especially before one about which I may be a little nervous), I first try to realize that each of the people involved, myself included, has his or her own Higher Power. This is true on a Twelfth Step call or at an AA meeting and is just as true on the subway, at a business gathering, or on jury duty. It is my conscious realization of this truth that helps me, just as the conscious realization of my alcoholism helps me stay sober today.
Second, I try to give up any idea that I am somehow a victim of circumstance, and to realize that every experience I have is a necessary part of my life and is something from which I can learn. The lessons are often of a spiritual nature, such as patience or tolerance (to help me accept the things I cannot change) or fortitude (to help me change the things I can).
Next, I use the Eleventh Step, asking only for the knowledge of God’s will for me and the power to carry that out. I simply pray for “the courage to know and the strength to do Your will.”
Finally, I must demonstrate my trust in God by using the Third Step to let go of the outcome of the situation. I turn my will and my life over to the care of God by trying to remain open to the ideas of others by trying to be flexible enough to change my ways of thinking or acting if it seems right for me to change. This is another way of practicing HOW: Honesty, Openness, and Willingness. I must honestly try to practice my AA principles, to be open to God’s influence as it expresses itself through people and ideas, and to be willing to change and grow in this life.
The idea of prayer before action is, for me, closely tied to the concept of ego reduction, a concept I must apply to myself in order to be comfortable in sobriety. When I allow my ego to become My Ego, I’m heading for trouble. There is room for only one almighty in this universe, and that is the God that helps me stay sober one day at a time, a God of which I am part.