Written By: Fiona Stockard
The Big Book Broken Down – Part Eight
Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who help each other to recover from alcohol and drug addiction. It was founded in June of 1935, just celebrated its seventy-ninth anniversary, and boasts over two million members.
AA’s central text is the Big Book. With a sponsor and a Big Book, AA members work the twelve steps, and “recover from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body” (title page).
Today, I’ll be breaking down step ten from the chapter “Into Action”
Step ten is “Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.”
This is the cornerstone of our spiritual growth! If we want to continue to grow in the image of likeness of God as we understand God, we must be vigilant! Taking a daily inventory is how we stay vigilant. It’s how we nurture our souls. It’s how we, as women in sobriety, become women of grace and dignity.
It’s important to remember that our daily inventory can take many different forms. It doesn’t have to be a written reflection of our day before bed. It can be a spot check, or throughout the day, inventory. It can be a morning meditation followed by periodic “God check-ins.”
Like most aspects of AA, it’s personal to each woman. Whatever sort of inventory allows us to connect with God is the sort of inventory we should be doing. In fact, the Big Book says,
“Continue to watch for selfishness, dishonesty, resentment, and fear. When these crop up, we ask God at once to remove them. We discuss them with someone immediately and make amends quickly if we have harmed anyone” (p. 84).
If we take this sort of inventory on a daily basis, our lives change dramatically. Into Action then lists the Tenth Step Promises. This is a wonderful section of the Big Book that requires its own, in-depth, exploration. Expect an article soon!
It’s hard to keep up this level of spiritual action and growth. Into Action addresses this idea, too. It says, “It is easy to let up on our spiritual program of action and rest on our laurels. We are headed for trouble if we do, for alcohol is a subtle foe” (p. 85).
That’s the truth! Growing in the image and likeness of a Higher Power isn’t easy! Pain is a great motivator, but what about when our lives get good? What about when pain fades and is replaced by freedom and happiness?
Well, the Big Book reads, “We are not cured of alcoholism. What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition” (p. 85).
If we don’t stay vigilant, if we don’t keep up this level of spiritual growth, we lose our daily reprieve. In turn, the mental obsession returns and we drink. It’s that simple.
Into Action then offers suggestions for how we can carry God with us, despite the many inevitable struggles of life. It says,
“’How can I best serve Thee – Thy will (not mine) be done.’ These are thoughts which must go with us constantly. We can exercise our will power along this line all we wish. It is the proper use of the will” (p. 85)
I love this idea! Of course, it’s easier said than done. When I get upset, angry, or experience any strong emotion, it’s hard to keep God’s will at the forefront of my thinking. Still, if I strive to maintain an attitude of God-centered thought, I can’t go wrong.
I also love the idea that once we’ve established a spiritual connection with God, we’re able to use our will effectively. I didn’t get sober to be in constant indecision! I got sober to be a strong and independent woman. I’m always dependent upon God, though.
This idea, of God-consciousness being vital to long-term sobriety, ends the section on the tenth step. Into Actions says, “To some extent we have become God-conscious. We have begun to develop this vital sixth sense. But we must go further and that means more action” (p. 85).
There’s always more action! The book is talking about the eleventh step, which goes hand-in-hand with the tenth. Tune in next week to learn about prayer and meditation!