This week’s HTYH is a continuation of Cindy’s story: I saw the people around me at A.A. meetings who were sober and happy and I wanted what they had and I’m glad they taught me to keep it simple. Each day, I ask for help in the morning and I say thank you at night.

After we worked the first three steps and said the Third Step Prayer together on our knees, I didn’t want to continue with Step Four “Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves” because it scared me. The word moral especially concerned me, but in this case it simply meant the truth—the truth about ourselves. Every time that I wanted to drag my feet my sponsor said, “Cindy, if you don’t work these steps you’re going to get drunk again.” The thought of getting drunk scared me more than the steps, so, I moved on with them. I never again wanted to go back into that darkness and hopelessness that I experienced at the end of my drinking.

As we worked through steps 4 and 5 things started happening. We were at Step 6: “We’re entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.” My sponsor emphasized willingness as being indispensable. Were we now ready to let God remove from us all the things that we have admitted are objectionable? Can He now take them all—every one? If we still cling to something we will not let go, we asked God to help us be willing.

When ready for Step 7: “Humbly ask Him to remove our shortcomings,” we said. “My Creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad. I pray that you will now remove from me every single defect of character that stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows. Grant me strength, as I go from here, to do your bidding.

We had then completed Step 7 and were ready to begin Step 8: Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.”

My sponsor reviewed my list and removed some names and added some others and I was ready for Step 9: “Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.” The 9th step promises by then, had begun to manifest themselves in my life even though I doubted they would. If we are painstaking about this stage of our development, we will be amazed before we are halfway through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. The feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations that used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.

Are these extravagant promises? We think not they are being fulfilled among us—sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them. This brought us to Step 10, which suggests we continue to take personal inventory and continue to set right any new mistakes as we go along. We vigorously commenced this way of living. We have entered the world of the spirit. Our next goal is to grow in understanding and effectiveness. This is not an overnight matter. It should continue for our lifetime. Continue to watch for selfishness, dishonesty, resentment, and fear. To be continued…

John Barleycorn

The phantom writer of the column "Here's to Your Health". This writer is an active member of Alcoholics Anonymous and therefore must maintain anonymity. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer