"Having had a spiritual experience as the result of those steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs."
Very few of us know the exact hour and date we had our spiritual experience, and some of us are not conscious of ever having had one at all. However, our changed personalities and perspectives are definite proof that "something" happened to us somewhere along the line as those who knew us "when" will attest.
A.A.s refer to the 12th Step as "working with others," and this means we try to help the other person work out his or her problem. From our vast fund of knowledge on the subject, gained from our own actual experiences and often under similar conditions, we are peculiarly qualified to exercise that sympathetic understanding that only another alcoholic can have and which is so important in talking to a person who, like ourselves, is allergic to alcohol. This is the crux of the success obtained by groups throughout the country. This A.A. program, which is responsible for our own sobriety, and for giving us a new lease on life, was handed to us on a silver platter and without monetary cost. It is our bounden duty, therefore, to pass it on in the same manner to those who want it. It was not intended for us to keep to ourselves.
We are admonished to, "Go ye and spread the gospel," and Webster defines gospel as: "Any doctrine concerning human welfare that is agitated as of great importance." Surely, to us alcoholics it is of the utmost importance. We carry out the 12th Step when we share our gift by telling others of the help we have found, by lending encouragement to those who find the way difficult, by making calls when requested to, and by attending meetings to show to the sensitive newcomer that he or she is not alone.
Sobriety, however, is not enough and length of sobriety is not so important as quality of sobriety. The A.A. program is a design for living normal, happy lives, and it is necessary that we practice the principles of tolerance, patience, unselfishness, humility, and that we curb our all too human desire to criticize and bear resentment.
It is sometimes discouraging to talk to a person who does not immediately respond to our "pearls of wisdom," but right there is where we exercise patience and realize that once the seed has been sown, John Barleycorn is our best salesman. Two years ago O.L. was called upon in New York City and after three or four meetings considered himself "cured," and in no further need of association with the A.A. group. Last week I was called to a hospital here in Atlanta, to interview a patient who turned out to be my old friend O.L. who had sense enough to scream for A.A. and was now "ready" for the entire program. None of us can let our defenses down, for unless we keep everlastingly at it we are doomed.
Persons thank us for showing them the way, and relatives are inclined to credit one or another of us with the recovery of their loved one. It is then that we realize that "Of myself I am nothing" --and we thank the Power greater than ourselves for making us an instrument of His ways.
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