M(3), 2/17: Dissecting Step Two

The literature for today’s meeting was chapter 2 in the book Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, and discusses in detail the thinking behind Step 2 in the twelve-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous:

Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity.

This meeting, for me personally, was chock full of interesting shares, but before I venture into what I learned I will write about my experience with Step 2.  Step 2 can be broken down into two parts:

  1. Belief in a power greater than ourselves
  2. Belief that this power can restore us to sanity

I took no issue with the first part of this step, as I had a core belief in a Higher Power.  Having sat in a meeting or two, I have come to hold an immense gratitude for this core belief, as I know this is a major hurdle for many to jump.

The second part of this step, I have come to realize, was a stumbling block.  While I believed in a God of my understanding, I held tight to the belief that “God helps those who help themselves.”  In placing the emphasis on “helping myself,” I was giving myself all the power, and blocking His ability to help me.  Consequently, it took many months before I could finally let go of the belief that I had to do this on my own.   Since that time, my concept and my relationship with my Higher Power has deepened and grown, and I believe will continue to do so for the rest of my life…. good stuff!

Okay, onto to the wisdom I have gained from my fellows:

One gentleman, who has almost 3 decades of sobriety, made the following statement:  “The longer I stay sober, the less interested I become in defining my spirituality.”  This idea rocked my world… the idea that I can be less precise about my spirituality as time goes by.  I’m not sure where I got the idea that the more time sober I have, the clearer picture I should have of a Higher Power, but this man’s simple statement opened my mind in a way I hadn’t even realized was closed.  It is enough to know that there is a power greater than me, and that power is helping me to live, day by day, a better life.  Enough said.  Brilliant!

Another man, sober for eleven years, talked about Donald Rumsfeld, and the quote attributed to former Secretary of Defense:  “the known knowns, the known unknowns, and the unknown unknowns.”  The gentleman this morning attributes his participation in the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous with his ability to deal with those “unknown unknowns” of life.  Because this fellowship teaches us an assortment of new skills, skills we either never possessed, or which we could never master, we now have an ability to deal with life in a way which previously eluded us.  I could not agree more.

Another woman whose sobriety date is close to mine, talked about how often this chapter discusses the importance of humility.  She quotes a line in the chapter:

“…humility and intellect could be compatible, provided we place humility first.  When we began to do that, we received the gift of faith, a faith which works.”

 -page 30, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions

As she spoke, I had the clearest vision of getting down on my knees and asking God for help that night a little over two years ago, and asking in a way that I had never asked before.  And since that time, I have come to understand my Higher Power in a way I hadn’t before.  So for me that sentence rings true… I truly became humble, and only then did I truly receive faith.

There was some dissention with step 2; for example, one gentleman took exception with the term “insanity.”  He felt it a little extreme, but has come to accept that he need not argue every period and comma put forth in order to reap the benefits of the 12-step program.  By accepting the 12 steps as a whole, rather than nitpicking his way through the verbiage, he was able to, as he put it, “put the skid chains on his thinking, which allowed him to stop drinking, which in turn allowed him to improve all different areas of is life.”  I had never heard the 12 steps described in quite this way, and I love the idea of putting skid chains on my thinking… it sums it up perfectly for me.  It doesn’t stop the extreme thoughts, but it allows me time to process them so I don’t react as quickly as I once did.

All in all, lots of sharing, lots of different experiences, but everyone agreed on one point:  it was in acceptance of a power greater than ourselves that we found true freedom.

Today’s Miracle:

I came home from my meeting to find that, while I was gone, husband and son decided to surprise me by tackling some long overdue projects.  It really doesn’t get any better than this kind of homecoming!

Posted on February 17, 2014, in Monday Meeting Miracles and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. You have inspired me to find my daily miracle. thank you.


  2. I am curious why that guy thought “insanity” was too strong a word. Does he know just how insane we *do* get when we are active in our alcoholism? Or more precisely, how insane we are in any point of our untreated alcoholism? lol…I am sure we can all come up with all the different ways that manifested in our drinking histories. And I mention this because that is what a lot of newcomers (and maybe not so-new-newcomers) struggle with. We think of “insane” as the rubber room and drooling and having severe mental issues. In a way, there is a bit of that. They used to put us in mental or psyche wards. Still do depending where you are. No one wants to admit that they might be like *that*, so they balk at this idea of returning to “sanity”. Sanity only means sound reasoning. My reasoning and judgment were far from sound. hey – I’ll leave my baby in the car alone while I go to the liquor store. Sound sane? I’ll drive with my kid in the back in blackout. Sane? I’ll risk my life and job and marriage and all that for a bottle. Sane?

    Methinks not!

    In the end, this thing, this spirituality, this HP, is nothing that can be measured or known, but it can be understood in how it works in our lives. That’s part of the leap of faith – it works when we put our trust in it.

    Great post, Josie – love the step studies 🙂


    • It’s funny, that he would have a hang-up about that word, but I guess for him insanity means rubber rooms (I think he actually said something to that effect). I’m with you, though… especially with the clarity of sobriety, I look back at some of my past actions, actions which were a part of my daily routine, and I think, “I should have been committed!”

      Thanks, as always, for your insight, I wish I could express the delight I feel when I read your comments 🙂


  3. I really like Step 2. What your fellow said: “The longer I stay sober, the less interested I become in defining my spirituality” reminds me of The Indigo Girls song, Closer to Fine: “the less I seek my source for some definitive, the closer I am to fine.” I don’t have to understand everything to still believe it. 🙂


    • And your comment reminds me of my favorite Indigo Girls song… “… I’m here to stop your crying/ Chase all the ghosts from your head/ I’m stronger than the monsters beneath your bed.” Really could apply to a Higher Power, that’s for sure! I’m sure I don’t need to tell you this, but the song is Power of Two.

      Thanks for the reminder that I need to listen to the Indigo Girls, and music in general. I have been so off my game since my knee injury, but I’m getting back on the horse, and thinking about writing about it tomorrow. I keep waffling, because there are some serious fears going on with me in discussing the whole health and fitness thing (basically, fear of failure), but I swear your word for the year keeps running through my head, so we’ll see how it goes!

      In any event, I LOVED seeing your comment, I wish you could see me smiling all the way through it!


  4. Personally, what i needed in Steps 1 & 2 was more to recognize that i could not solve the problem myself. That i was not in control. That i’d been trying to deal wiht my drinking myself and that plan only kept exacerbating the problem. Step 2 was a big Step for me because i said: i cannot control this. Now, who i gave the control to is rather vague and shapeless at times, but as long as i don’t try to take control back myself, it’s all good.


    • Agreed! That was my exact turning point, when I realized that I didn’t have all the answers. Up to that point I really believed that I could figure things out on my own, that I SHOULD figure things out on my own. Once I let go of that belief, it was amazing how the world opened up!

      Thanks Al!


  5. As Christy said, I like what your friend said about not feeling pressure to define spirituality the longer he’s sober. I find that very comforting. I also realized while reading this that humility is not my natural state, ha. Pain brings me back to it, but your post helped something sink in. As always, thank you.


    • Thank you, Kristen! Just thinking about you this afternoon, a friend brought up the idea of a 5K in Flemington, NJ on June 1st. I have not exercised anything other than my jaw since my knee injury, but it at least has me thinking in healthier directions. I will, of course, let you know as plans develop. This, by the way, is for kids (she is coaching a group of elementary girls called “Girls Who Run”) so it could be a real family event. Something to keep in mind!


      • I would be up for that and bet I could get V to run or walk too. My jaw’s been getting a great workout this winter…would be nice to have a healthy goal in place.


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