"When we became alcoholic, crushed by a self-imposed crisis we could not postpone or evade, we had to fearlessly face the proposition that either God is everything or else He is nothing. God either is or He isn't. What was our choice to be?
["Alcoholics Anonymous," page 53.]
|Paris Peace Conference, 1919|
During the course of the ensuing Second Word War, the leaders of the main Allied Powers met and decided their would only be one condition for ending the war, that being the "unconditional surrender" of the Axis Powers (principally Germany, Italy and Japan).
|Japan's "Unconditional Surrender," 1945|
And what was the result? Aid flowed into Germany and Japan as part of the Marshall Plan, and within scant years, each was amongst the richest and most productive economies in the world, and they in turn became not only functioning democracies, but trusted and crucial allies of their former enemies.
Admitting complete defeat, and the unconditional surrender of the right to manage and care for one's own life, is, of course what is necessary for one to enjoy the full promise that the 12 Steps hold out to the newcomer.
|"Who cares to admit complete defeat?"|
Then, if we can answer this call for an "unconditional surrender" in the affirmative, we face a number of interrelated questions that are really a subset of that first and all-important questions as to whether we are completely defeated, have "hit bottom," and have admitted that we are "powerless over alcohol" and that "our lives have become unmanageable."
" . . . (F)ew people," we read, " will sincerely try to practice the A.A. Program unless they have hit botton. For practicing A.A.'s remaining eleven Steps means the adoption of attitudes and actions that almost no alcoholic who is still drinking can dream of taking. Who wishes to be honest and tolerant? Who wants to confess his faults to another and make restitution for harm done? Who cares anything about a Higher Power, let alone meditation and prayer? Who wants to sacrifice time and energy in trying to carry A.A.'s message to the next sufferer? No, the average alcoholic, self-centered in the extreme, doesn't care for this prospect - unless he has to do these things in order to stay alive himself."If we can answer these questions in the affirmative, then we are truly in a position to finally let go of our old ideas and attitudes (our old thoughts and ways of thinking) in order to let that "unsuspected inner resource," which we all have, guide our thoughts and our actions. (See the Spiritual Experience appendix.)
"It is when we try to make our will conform with God's that we begin to use it rightly," we read in Step Three of the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. "To all of us, this was a most wonderful revelation. Our whole trouble had been the misuse of will power. We had tried to bombard our problems with it instead of trying to bring it into agreement with God's intention for us. To make this increasingly possible is the purpose of A.A.'s Twelve Steps, and Step Three opens the door."The "whole purpose of A.A.'s Twelve Steps" is to get us to exercise our will in conformity with God's will? That is a powerful statement. And, if God is indeed "everything" rather than "nothing," as we read at page 53 in the 'Big Book' of Alcoholics Anonymous, this must mean that we have to bring our will into conformity with the will of the Whole, with the will of "life" itself. That's a tall order. How is it possible?
Thankfully, each of us has a conscience - and are capable of being conscious of that conscience - and, therefore, each time we are about to say something or do something (or refrain from doing or saying something) that will bring us into conflict with the will of the Whole (or the will of God), we are capable of feeling the pangs of conscience. as expressed in our emotions .
In such instances, we will feel wounded pride, greedy, angry, lustful, gluttonous, envious, or tired and slothful, to utilize the range of emotions that go along with the "seven deadly sins" that are discussed later in the Twelve and Twelve. In short, we will again begin to suffer the pangs of "anxious apartness" that arises each time the "self" (or the"ego") feels threatened and seemingly needs to express itself in action or words. And that's where the rest of the "practice" of Step Three kicks in.
At the very end of Step Three in the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, we read that it is, indeed "easy to begin the practice" of Step Three," for it very much a spiritual practice which is every bit as important to our long-term recovery as is our meditation practice, or our practice of taking a daily inventory. It is through this Third Step "practice," that in each time of "emotional disturbance or indecision, we can pause, ask for silence, and in the stillness" recite the Serenity Prayer.
In short, it is in making our decisions about what to say or do (or not say or do) based on this higher, deeper God-consciousness that we begin the practice of "letting go" of our egoic, self-consciousness, and "letting (the) God" of our higher consciousness run the show.
Life is, in fact, unmanageable by our lower, egoic "selves;" and, yet, it requires no management when we are attuned in consciousness to the Higher Power of the Whole, the Ground of Being, or just simply, God. "The war is over," then. "And the good news is . . . you lost!"