All these failings generate fear, a soul-sickness in its own right.
TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 49
“Fear knocked at the door; faith answered; no one was there.” I don’t know to whom this quote should be attributed, but it certainly indicates very clearly that fear is an illusion. I create the illusion myself.
I experienced fear early in my life and I mistakenly thought that the mere presence of it made me a coward. I didn’t know that one of the definitions of “courage” is “the willingness to do the right thing in spite of fear.” Courage, then, is not necessarily the absence of fear.
During the times I didn’t have love in my life I most assuredly had fear. To fear God is to be afraid of joy. In looking back, I realize that, during the times I feared God most, there was no joy in my life. As I learned not to fear God, I also learned to experience joy.
To see how erratic emotions victimized us often took a long time. We could perceive them quickly in others, but only slowly in ourselves. First of all, we had to admit that we had many of these defects, even though such disclosures were painful and humiliating. Where other people were concerned, we had to drop the word “blame” from our speech and thought.
TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 47
When I did my Fourth Step, following the Big Book guidelines, I noticed that my grudge list was filled with my prejudices and my blaming others for my not being able to succeed and to live up to my potential. I also discovered I felt different because I was black. As I continued to work on the Step, I learned that I always had drunk to rid myself of those feelings. It was only when I sobered up and worked on my inventory, that I could no longer blame anyone.
We want to find exactly how, when, and where our natural desires have warped us. We wish to look squarely at the unhappiness this has caused others and ourselves. By discovering what our emotional deformities are, we can move toward their correction.
TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 43
Today I am no longer a slave to alcohol, yet in so many ways enslavement still threatens-my self, my desires, even my dreams. Yet without dreams I cannot exist; without dreams there is nothing to keep me moving forward.
I must look inside myself, to free myself. I must call upon God’s power to face the person I’ve feared the most, the true me, the person God cre-ated me to be. Unless I can or until I do, I will always be running, and never be truly free. I ask God daily to show me such a freedom!
Demands made upon other people for too much at- tention, protection, and love can only invite domina- tion or revulsion. . . .
TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 44
When I uncovered my need for approval in the Fourth Step, I didn’t think it should rank as a character defect. I wanted to think of it more as an asset (that is, the desire to please people). It was quickly pointed out to me that this “need” can be very crippling. Today I still enjoy getting the approval of others, but I am not willing to pay the price I used to pay to get it. I will not bend myself into a pretzel to get others to like me. If I get your approval, that’s fine; but if I don’t, I will survive without it. I am responsible for speaking what I perceive to be the truth, not what I think others may want to hear.
Similarly, my false pride always kept me overly concerned about my reputation. Since being enlightened in the A.A. program, my aim is to improve my character.
Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 42
Step Four is the vigorous and painstaking effort to discover what the liabilities in each of us have been, and are. I want to find exactly how, when, and where my natural desires have warped me. I wish to look squarely at the unhappiness this has caused others and myself. By discovering what my emotional deformities are, I can move toward their correction. Without a willing and persistent effort to do this, there can be little sobriety or contentment for me.
To resolve ambivalent feelings, I need to feel a strong and helpful sense of myself. Such an awareness doesn’t happen overnight, and no one’s selfawareness is permanent. Everyone has the capacity for growth, and for self-awareness, through an honest encounter with reality. When I don’t avoid issues but meet them directly, always trying to re-solve them, they become fewer and fewer.
They are servants. Theirs is the sometimes thankless privilege of doing the group’s chores.
TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 134
In Zorba the Greek, Nikos Kazantzakis describes an encounter between his principal character and an old man busily at work planting a tree. “What is it you are doing?” Zorba asks. The old man replies: “You can see very well what I’m doing, my son, I’m planting a tree.” “But why plant a tree,” Zorba asks, “if you won’t be able to see it bear fruit?” And the old man answers: “I, my son, live as though I were never going to die.” The response brings a faint smile to Zorba’s lips and, as he walks away, he exclaims with a note of irony: “How strange—I live as though I were going to die tomorrow!”
As a member of Alcoholics Anonymous, I have found that the Third Legacy is a fertile soil in which to plant the tree of my sobriety. The fruits I harvest are wonderful: peace, security, understanding and twenty-four hours of eternal fulfillment; and with the soundness of mind to listen to the voice of my conscience when, in silence, it gently speaks to me, saying: You must let go in service. There are others who must plant and harvest.
It has been well said that “almost the only scoffers at prayer are those who never tried it enough.” TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 97 Having grown up in an agnostic household, I felt somewhat foolish when I first tried praying. I knew there was a Higher Power working in my life—how else was I staying sober?—but I certainly wasn’t convinced he/she/it wanted to hear my prayers. People who had what I wanted said prayer was an important part of practicing the program, so I persevered. With a commitment to daily prayer, I was amazed to find myself becoming more serene and comfortable with my place in the world. In other words, life became easier and less of a struggle. I’m still not sure who, or what, listens to my prayers, but I’d never stop saying them for the simple reason that they work.
. . . out of every season of grief or suffering, when the hand of God seemed heavy or even unjust, new lessons for living were learned, new resources of courage were uncovered, and that finally, inescapably, the conviction came that God does “move in a mysterious way His wonders to perform.”
TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 105
After losing my career, family and health, I remained unconvinced that my way of life needed a second look. My drinking and other drug use were killing me, but I had never met a recovering person or an A.A. member. I thought I was destined to die alone and that I deserved it. At the peak of my despair, my infant son became critically ill with a rare disease. Doctors’ efforts to help him proved useless. I redoubled my efforts to block my feelings, but now the alcohol had stopped working. I was left staring into God’s eyes, begging for help. My introduction to A.A. came within days, through an odd series of coincidences, and I have remained sober ever since. My son lived and his disease is in remission. The entire episode convinced me of my powerlessness and the unmanageability of my life. Today my son and I thank God for His intervention.