Vivian Green said, “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.” Step Eleven is about dancing in the rain.
I wish that after 12 years in the program and 8 years sobriety I didn’t have any problems. No such luck for me. I wish I always acted responsibly, or in a way that I could be proud. That doesn’t always happen either. Just ask my wife.
But today I have help. I have help from my program friends, from my sponsor, and from God. The eleventh step says, “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out.” Each night when I review the previous day, I honestly look at whether I have been resentful, selfish, dishonest, or afraid. Is there someone to whom I owe an apology? Am I keeping secrets that need to be shared? Was I kind and loving that day, particularly toward my wife Ellyn? Are there things that I could have done better? Did I spend much of the day thinking of myself? What did I do to help someone else today? I do this review in writing to not omit anything.
That list gives me things to pray about. So, then I discuss my list with God, asking His forgiveness and listening for any sense of His instructions. I don’t always get immediate answers. Ok, I usually don’t get immediate answers. God has never sent me a burning bush. He sent the police instead. Before I came into recovery, when I was acting out and couldn’t stop, I asked God to take away my addiction. I didn’t see anything happen. Then one morning He sent a dozen cops with a search warrant. I didn’t see Him standing there at the time, but today I know He was.
Sometimes God provides the answers from within. Bill W called that the breath of God. Now I know that I’m not God, but once in a while I find Him within me. More often, I find God in others, often members of my recovery group. The key is, I have to be receptive to hearing God through other people.
When I get up in the morning, my spiritual practice begins. I read from a daily meditation book. I look at my plans for the day. I pray and ask God what he wants me to do, and then listen quietly. If I find a conflict between what God wants me to do and what I want to do, I do my best to follow God’s will rather than my own. I am not perfect at this; I am not cured of my addiction. My addiction remains in remission as long as I stay in fit spiritual condition, and this work helps me to do this. As the day goes on, I try to review what God wants of me and make sure I’m staying on track. I trust what God tells me. When I do that, I am much less likely to do something foolish, and more likely to remain sober.
In my old life, I prayed regularly. But I did not have the confidence that good things would happen because of my prayers. Now I have seen good things happen, miracles that did not happen before. In the scope of the larger world, they are little miracles. But in my life those miracles have been huge things: Ellyn staying with me, my sexual addiction becoming dormant, my living a life with honesty and integrity. Today I have faith that God hears my prayers and answers them.
I didn’t know that could happen to me until it did. I’ve seen it happen to many others, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. I know for me it didn’t happen quickly, I had to work for it. You probably will too. That’s ok. The results are worth it. Now, go dance in the rain.