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Right now, three major world religions are celebrating some of their most important holidays: Passover/Pesach- Judaism; Good Friday and Easter – Christianity; and Ramadan – Islam. In less than a month, two other major world religions will celebrate holidays as well: Buddha Purnima – Buddhism and Ram Navami – Hinduism. Just think – billions of people in the world around the same time are celebrating holidays that help to shape their beliefs and traditions and relationships with their God and each other! Can all that spiritual power bring unity and help to heal individuals, families, communities, and the world?
Numerous testimonies have been shared with me in the last 25+ years of how spirituality offered hope and helped to heal a person’s body, soul, and mind and contributed to restoring their relationships. Many of those testimonies were from people who found spirituality and recovery through the Fellowship, Twelve Steps, and Twelve Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous, primarily known as “A.A.” The A.A. Twelve Steps as noted below do not promote a belief in a specific God, Higher Power, or religion, yet they do help us come to believe “that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” The Twelve Steps offer a way to help heal our relationships too, like through Steps 8 and 9, which focus on making amends and asking for forgiveness.
A.A. was started in 1935 by two men, Bill W. and Dr. Bob, who were unable to become and stay sober on their own. “Today, an A.A. presence can be found in approximately 180 nations worldwide, with membership estimated at over two million. There are more than 123,000 A.A. groups around the world and A.A.’s literature has been translated into over 100 languages.” (www.aa.org) In addition to A.A., now there are many other Twelve Step Groups, such as those that address substance use, overeating, gambling, spending, and mental health (Emotions Anonymous) to name a few. There are even groups for family members and friends who are affected by addictions.
Every tool that contributes to a person’s recovery from addictions or mental health challenges can and should be promoted and celebrated. There are many paths to recovery, and there are many religions, traditions, and beliefs. Yet, I believe as shown in the A.A. Twelve Steps, some core principles can be universal, unite us, and help individuals, families, communities, and the world to heal.
Alcoholics Anonymous Twelve Steps:
1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol — that our lives had become unmanageable.
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
12. 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 our affairs.
Spiritual Holidays often help us to reflect on the importance of our relationship with our God and how we relate to those close to us and the world. I pray for all of us who are or will be celebrating, that we are redeemed, renewed, restored, recognize the needs of those around us, and reach out to offer help and hope.
To learn more about Alcoholics Anonymous and its history, Twelve Steps, Twelve Traditions, Twelve Concepts, the Big Book…, and how to find a Fellowship Group in your area please visit: www.aa.org
Voice and Vision’s Help and Hope Webinar Series addresses this topic too. Please go to our Events Page and watch a webinar presented by Nina Marie Corona called: Many Paths Towards Wholeness: Discovering Authentic Spirituality on the Road to Recovery. You’ll find a pdf with resources there too.
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