12 Steps Spirituality

]A programme of living for everyone

As it’s main focus12-step Spirituality is based on the principle of living not in the yesterday, not in the tomorrow, but living in the day – today, one day at a time and allowing God to be God in my life. This spirituality is one born out of need and desire, an awareness of our own powerlessness and brokenness …it is born out a realisation that I cannot live life in isolation from God.

Religion is for people who are afraid of going to hell…Spirituality is for people who have been there.

On first encountering 12-step spirituality I believed that here was an ideal programme for the alcoholic or addict trying to live life free from active addiction. However, I soon came to realise that this spirituality is a very necessary, workable and practical programme for any Christian striving to live the principles of Christ’s teaching and that it is indeed at the very core of Christian belief.

The principles and content of 12 step Spirituality have been present in the lives and teaching of many of the great spiritual writers and Saints since the dawn of Christianity, in particular in the writings and teachings of St. Ignatius. 12-step spirituality is not about religion; it is about Spirituality – my Spirituality. It is not about a God out there, but God within, and my relationship with this God on a daily basis.

Whilst there are 12 steps in this Spiritual way of living, the first three steps and particularly the first step, are pivotal to the working of all the other steps. These first three steps move from an acceptance of powerlessness in my life, to a belief in God who heals and directs, and finally to turning of ones life over to the care of God. Let us take a brief look at what these three steps entail.

  1. Coming to realise that of myself I am powerless over situations, people and things and that my life is unmanageable.This very powerful concept is based upon the realisation our own human limitations, that we cannot manage life by ourselves. It is a moving to a self-conviction that without a power (God) in my life, then I am powerless. Step one brings us to an acceptance that without God in my life I am shallow, weak, artificial, self-seeking, egocentric and lacking all sense of spiritual depth or true peace. I am indeed like a spring that is dried up, like a barren desert where life and growth are unable to take root and that I am living a life based on ‘me and my ego’, rather than based on ‘me and my God’. If we believe that we are the source of our own power, as many do, then there is no room in us for a power greater than ourselves – for God. The realisation which this step brings, while perhaps frightening and difficult to acknowledge, is the beginning and basis of true growth, of a true relationship with God, self and others.

Intercom October 2005