“And to practice these principles in all our affairs.” Page 60 of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.
We’ve talked about a spiritual awakening; how you have to keep feeding it or it fades. We’ve talked about carrying the message to other alcoholics; how to keep it is to give it away. Now’s the time when we talk about how the steps affect our ongoing daily lives. Because if the steps have not impacted the way you interact with your family, your co-workers, people you run into at the grocery store, the mailman, your neighbors, and in general, the people who drive badly in your community, the steps really aren’t working for you, are they?
One of my favorite passages in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous is on page 18. “That the man who is making the approach has had the same difficulty, that he obviously knows what he is talking about, that his whole deportment shouts at the new prospect that he is a man with a real answer…” I can’t remember how long I had been sober when that phrase suddenly made all the sense in the world to me. Does your “whole deportment” in life shout at people that you are content? Happy? Serene? Willing to learn? Non-judgemental? Spiritual? Calm? Open? Teachable? You don’t have to have a problem with addiction to want those things in life. And when this step talks about practicing these principles in all our affairs, isn’t that what it’s talking about? Our daily lives? How we act and react to everything that happens to us – not just as it pertains to alcohol?
It is not necessary to vocally shout to the world that you are in recovery. Shouting does nothing for your recovery. In fact, it may hinder it. Your “deportment” is what sends the message. Has anyone in your life noticed a change in your approach to difficulties? Has anyone ever asked you why you’re so calm in the face of adversity? Has someone ever looked at you and said, “What are you all about? I don’t get it.” Those are the moments we may wish to disclose that we are in recovery from alcoholism. Because that’s what our “deportment” shows – that we have a real answer that works in this strange, chaotic and stressful world we live in. That we can live in relative ease and comfort no matter the challenge. I’m not saying any of us do this perfectly on an everyday basis. Frankly, I doubt that’s possible. But a spiritual way of life cannot be hidden. We’re mysterious to people. They don’t “get it.” They don’t understand why we may choose to make less money to be more happy. Or to calmly, without judgement, call the police when we find out our kid is smoking pot. The world doesn’t understand when we stop in the moment and close our eyes to re-group, to pray or breathe before reacting. And sometimes, they are curious why we do. Practicing these principles in all our affairs is about our attitude toward life. Do you welcome life’s challenges as a way to show your Higher Power’s actual power? This way of life is embedded in the third step prayer.
“God, I offer myself to thee. To build with me and to do with me as thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self that I may better do thy will. Take away my difficulties that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy way of life. May I do Thy will always.
Check your deportment. Step 12 is about ALL our affairs. Our whole life is an opportunity to share the message. And if your life doesn’t show you are in recovery, then perhaps it’s time to regroup and figure out how to apply all 12 steps to your daily life.
Kate Zimmerman Tallgrass Alumnus #35