Twelve Steps for Everyone?
I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me . . . Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Psalms 51:3,10
Long ago, my AA sponsor told me that he continually worked and reworked the twelve steps, even though he had been sober for years. I thought that sounded stupid. Why keep doing it once you’re sober? He insisted that his drug use was a part of a greater problem and that addiction was only one of his life struggles. I was willing to do it once if it would fix my drug problem. I’m done after this. He maintained his sobriety. I did not.
What I eventually realized, is that the twelve steps are not simply about drugs or alcohol. Other recovery programs use the same steps for food, gambling, sex or shopping addictions. Whatever one’s life problems are, those problems come to control a person, wreaking destruction and paralyzing spiritual growth.
In my addiction, I learned the futility of just trying harder to stop using. I learned that I couldn’t do it on my own and that I desperately needed something far above and beyond me – God – to follow. I am a mess and I need you, God.
This is the message of the twelve steps and it is the message of David in today’s passage, after he had been confronted by the prophet Nathan for adultery and murder. David lamented that he was a disaster on his own, and that he desperately needed God’s miraculous transforming power.
This was not just about adultery for David, just as it is not only about drugs for me. My sponsor had it right, years ago. This is something we do, not just once a year, but something we should do continually. Daily, we must recognize that we are disasters on our own and that we desperately need God. Whether we call it the twelves steps or not, is not important. If we call ourselves Christians, we must daily turn from ourselves to follow Christ.