Sobriety Navigator: Alcoholics Anonymous an overview of Step 12.
Step Twelve: “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all of our affairs.”
Every member of A.A. has heard the stories or has experienced the generosity of having total strangers go out of their way to take them to a meeting or drive them to a treatment center. And in return, they ask nothing! They were being kind and doing for others what had been done for them. When asked by the newcomer, “How can I repay you? How can I thank you?” it was made clear…someday pass it on!
Over and over you witness the flow of kindness, generosity and compassion that lives in A.A. People choose to give back what was given to them through service work. This could be setting up for a meeting, making coffee, chairing a meeting, speaking at a meeting, answering phones at an A.A. central office, placing your first name and phone number on a volunteer temporary sponsor list, or going on 12 step calls. There are multitudes of ways to be of service and the right situation will present itself if you are ready, able and willing. Attraction, not promotion is the essence of A.A. and all service work. The time and energy is donated.
New A.A. members, who once were empty mentally, emotional, physically and spiritually, experience a new freedom, excitement, optimism and flow of energy they never knew they were capable of. There can be an unbridled exuberance to share the message of A.A. and sobriety. But, we are always mindful that we don’t force our way of life and our beliefs onto others. There are plenty of people in the world who drink, perhaps even heavy or often, but that doesn’t necessarily make them an alcoholic. We never get on a soap box and proclaim our greatness as a result of abstinence from our addictions. There are millions of people who have never needed to go to a 12 step program for addiction, to a treatment center, or be the subject of an intervention.
What we do in our own quiet and dignified way is, when the opportunity presents itself, to perhaps discuss our own challenges and struggles with addictions and what worked for us to achieve and maintain sobriety. It is usually through the sometimes drastic, most times subtle changes in our actions and attitudes that draw people to us. We abandoned our illusions of grandiosity and take comfort in our honest assessment of who we really are. We are merely human, and no task or circumstance, if honest and genuine, is beneath us. We are neither better than nor less than our fellow travelers, whether in or out of A.A.
The gratitude that is fostered when working with others is invaluable. After being in the program for a while, you learn to deal with life on life’s terms. You learn to deal with challenges and struggles that initially seem overwhelming and too much to bear. You may then reach out to a new-comer at a meeting or listen to and support someone who is struggling with early sobriety. You are quickly reminded that whatever challenges you are experiencing today are nothing compared to where you were in the beginning. Nothing brings a person in A.A. closer to God like working with others.