A Christmas Carol Redux

By Jana Greene

In the Twelve Steps of Recovery, my Higher Power gave to me . . .

There is something cool about the number “twelve.” It makes me think of the number of recovery steps; a dozen fresh, hot doughnuts; the number of beloved disciples of Jesus; and the Twelve Days of Christmas (even though that never made much sense to me – having little appreciation for a Partridge in a Pear Tree or Lords a-Leapin’).

But I do have all the appreciation in the world for addiction recovery. In my twelfth year of active recovery and in celebration of the Twelve Steps, I composed a “Twelve Days of Christmas” redux.

In the First Step of Recovery, Higher Power gave to me – a serving of humility.

Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over alcohol and that our lives had become unmanageable.

It was difficult to admit that I had zero power over a silly substance – alcohol – truly humiliating, but in the best way possible. I had to learn how to bite off one single day at a time without drinking, then another and another – in complete surrender to God. I continue to approach sobriety this way.

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In the Second Step of Recovery, Higher Power gave to me – boundless, steady love and a serving of humility.

Step 2: We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

If you don’t think you deserve to be loved, then actually being loved is difficult to accept. But true love doesn’t come because we deserve it; it often comes when we think we can’t possibly deserve it. God’s love is boundless in nature, and He wants us to learn how to love one another in the same way.

In the Third Step of Recovery, Higher Power gave to me – hope for a future; boundless, steady love; and a serving of humility.

Step 3: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

Oh, the mess I’d made of my life when I was active in my disease! Surely I’d used up all of the favor I could reasonably be shown. Blessedly, God is not reasonable in promising future hope and favor for just the faithful!

In the Fourth Step of Recovery, Higher Power gave to me – grace through massive changes; hope for a future; boundless, steady love; and a serving of humility.

Step 4: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

Now I had some major decisions to make about my life. Some of my choices were good and healthy at this stage, and some were not good at all. Through floundering effort, trial and error, I just didn’t pick up. I decided to trust in my Higher Power instead of my own barometer.

In the Fifth Step of Recovery, Higher Power gave to me – fine clar-i-ty! Grace through massive changes; hope for a future; boundless, steady love; and a serving of humility.

Step 5: Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

Even without a numbing agent to help it along, life keeps happening. Not everything seen with clar-i-ty shows up in a rosy glow, especially as I learn to be responsible for my own messes. The learning curve is continuous; but God loves me, right?

In the Sixth Step of Recovery, Higher Power gave to me – mercy overflowing; fine clar-i-ty! Grace through massive changes; hope for a future; boundless, steady love; and a serving of humility.

Step 6: Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

When I humbly ask God to remove my shortcomings, the ensuing space fills up with beautiful things, like love, grace, joy and mercy. During this time God sent sober, loving friends to storm the shores of my life. As we lose our character defects, we gain relationships with just the right people – folks who understand us.

In the Seventh Step of Recovery, Higher Power gave to me – coping skills for living; mercy overflowing; fine clar-i-ty! Grace through massive changes; hope for a future; boundless, steady love; and a serving of humility.

Step 7: Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

Coping with life on life’s terms? It’s not always the easiest thing to do. In times of struggle, my habit is to go first to God with my hurts, habits and hang-ups. I must remind myself to take my spiritual toolbox everywhere I go.

In the Eighth Step of Recovery, Higher Power gave to me – permission to be happy; coping skills for living; mercy overflowing; fine clar-i-ty! Grace through massive changes; hope for a future; boundless, steady love; and a serving of humility.

Step 8: Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.

Because I let go of my pride, for me making amends often went hand-in-hand with happiness. Proud people often find true happiness elusive.

Because it helps me differentiate between having joy and being happy, I love the Serenity Prayer, especially the little-known end of the prayer. Sometimes, being reasonably happy is just fine.

    Trusting that You will make all things right,
    If I surrender to Your will,
    So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
    And supremely happy with You forever in the next.
    Amen. – Reinhold Niebuhr

In the Ninth Step of Recovery, Higher Power gave to me – comfort in His Presence; permission to be happy; coping skills for living; mercy overflowing; fine clar-i-ty! Grace through massive changes; hope for a future; boundless, steady love; and a serving of humility.

Step 9: Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

I cannot adequately make amends without the comfort of my Heavenly Father. I need His help to right my wrongs. My Higher Power’s presence is most tangible when I am still and quiet; my heart has a chance to have a good listen when I stop trying so hard to anticipate what He is communicating to me. He also comforts me with the presence of others in recovery.

In the Tenth Step of recovery, my Higher Power gave to me – acceptance through surrender; comfort in His presence; permission to be happy; coping skills for living; mercy overflowing; fine clar-i-ty! Grace through massive changes; hope for a future; boundless, steady love; and a serving of humility.

Step 10: Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.

The only formula I know that works is:

    Daily Surrender to God + Hard Work You Don’t Feel Like Doing + Serving Others = A Forward-Moving Recovery

I am still one drink away from repeating my old, self-destructive patterns. Accountability to a group is essential.

In the Eleventh Step of Recovery, Higher Power gave to me – a better perspective; comfort in His presence; permission to be happy; coping skills for living; mercy overflowing; fine clar-i-ty! Grace through massive changes; hope for a future; boundless, steady love; and a serving of humility.

Step 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.

It is not unheard of to experience victory over one area of struggle, only to have another temptation rear its ugly head. But, when I let God pick me up out of the pit I’m wallowing in, I have a much better vantage point.

In the Twelfth Step of Recovery, Higher Power gave to me – a way to pay it forward; a better perspective; comfort in His presence; permission to be happy; coping skills for living; mercy overflowing; fine clar-i-ty! Grace through massive changes; hope for a future; boundless, steady love; and a serving of humility.

Step 12: Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others and to practice these principals in all our affairs.

As my drinking left my life, the vacuum was filled with peace, comfort and healthy relationships. Sobriety gave me a second chance to be the wife and mother my family deserved.

It is my privilege to pay forward my experience in recovery, so others can realize that addiction is a treatable disease and that recovery is possible. Recovery saves lives.

I can’t wait to see what the next twelve years of recovery will bring!

Jana Greene is a Jesus freak, wife, mother, recovering alcoholic, author and blogger at http://thebeggarsbakery.com. In 2001, she surrendered her will to Jesus and is still surrendering it on a daily basis. She writes to let others know where to find the Bread of Life. She lives with her husband, daughters and kitty cats in North Carolina.

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