A.A. is a spiritual program and a spiritual way of life. Even the first half of the First Step, “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol,” is a spiritual experience. An A.A. member needs more than physical capabilities; he needs the use of his full faculties as a human being to hear the message, to think about it, to review the effects of the past, to realize, to admit, and to accept. These processes are activities of the mind, which is part of the spirit.
Yes, I began with blind faith, but the proof of truth is that it works. I believed those who said they had suffered from alcoholism, but, through A.A., were now enjoying sobriety. So the truth was there for me to see. But shortly I knew the truth from my own experience. I was not only released from the compulsion to drink; I was guided toward a compulsion to live!
A.A. also made me very much aware, by constant repetition, of my freedom of choice, and this is the human faculty of willpower. As time has gone on in sobriety, I have been offered and have used the opportunity to learn more about humanity by learning more about myself. 1 now realize that when I first said at an A.A. meeting, “My name is Tom and I am an alcoholic,” I was expressing the first truth I had known about myself. Think of the spirituality in such statements. My name tells me that I am a human being; the fact that I can know it, think about it, and communicate it reinforces my humanity and makes me aware and excited that I am!
This, then, became the opening to the spiritual world. With the guidance of the program and the encouragement and examples within the Fellowship, I could begin to find out about myself and be prepared to accept what I found. I learned in the Fellowship that if others could accept me and love me as I was, then I should love myself as I was—not for what I was, but for what I could become. So I have learned a little about my mind and about my will and about my emotions and passions.
I have learned I can be a good human being, although an imperfect one; that, when J consciously live in the real world (sanity), each good day helps to counterbalance my past.
My religion did not give me A.A. A.A. gave me greater strength in my religion, The simple contrast between active alcoholism and active sobriety has helped me to seek, to listen, and to apply the good principles of living, and I am rewarded with much more excitement and joy than was mine before A.A. sobriety. By accepting this sobriety gratefully, as a gift, and using it willingly, I have become aware of other gifts available to me a human being. To get the benefits, I need only ask and then use. This is the crux of the program and the crux of living: acceptance and action.
The gift of understanding has allowed the simple messages from my parents, my teachers, and my church to take on new meaning and soundness. With the gift of serenity, I am ready and willing to accept what God permits to happen to me; with the gift of courage, to take action to change the things I can for the good of myself and others. The gift of wisdom has been given to me so that in personal relationships I may act intelligently and with love or, as it has also been expressed, with competence and compassion.
Now I am trying to grasp the idea of living “inside out.” The Big Book, “As Bill Sees It—the A.A. Way of Life,” “24 Hours a Day,” the meetings, the experiences, the consciousness of change in myself, in my thinking, my consciences, and my habits—all of these are spiritual. There is the spirituality the A.A. way of life, which simply makes us aware of our individual inner resources. There is no materialism in A.A.—-just spirituality. If you take care of our inner needs, our other needs will be provided for.
I have come to believe that the gift of sobriety is what gives value and dignity to any life. It is this that I have to share, and it grows as it is shared.