Happy Weekend! I had a great weekend last weekend! I had the privilege of attending a concert with a friend who works for a local radio station. I helped her at her booth for awhile and in the meantime, was totally entertained by Building 429 and For King and Country. Let me just say they were both very good, but I love For King and Country. They have fantastic energy and put on a great show. Not to mention their music is awesome!
I had to include a picture, even though it’s not the best. They did Amazing Grace a capella style. Everyone held up their phones (I thought it was supposed to be lighters; I guess that shows you my age) and sang with them. It was outdoors and it was a beautiful sight and sound. Then afterwards we grabbed some food, headed back to our cottage, and stayed up talking until 3 am! It was worth missing a little sleep though,we had so much catching up to do! Saturday and Sunday were pretty chill. We are in R & R mode around here for the rest of the summer, and I plan to take full advantage of the precious days of summer left!
So we move on to Step 11, but as always, first our review of the previous ones we’ve covered:
Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over our problems-that our lives had become unmanageable.
Step 2: Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
Step 3: We made a decision to turn our wills and our lives over to the care of God.
Step 4: We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
Step 5: We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
Step 6: We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
Step 7: We humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.
Step 8: We made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them.
Step 9: We made direct amends to people wherever possible except when to do so would injure them or others.
Step 10: We continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
Step 11: We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, praying only for knowledge of his will for us and the power to carry that out.
So, I read this step and of course, rather smugly thought to myself (again,) ”I got this.” I love my prayer and meditation time more than any other part of the day and rarely miss it. Then came good old part two, “Praying only for knowledge of his will for us and the power to carry it out.”
I am not sure how you feel, but I think that is a rather daunting request. Why? That is not how I am programmed! To ask someone else (even if it is God) to show me his will. What if it’s not what I want??? I have a lot of great ideas and I just want God to agree with me, give me his blessing and move on! To actually ask, "What do you want me to do Lord?" That doesn't come out of my mouth too easily. I mean I have said many times, “Thy will be done.” After all, it is part of the Lord's Prayer and I have said that a million times. Those might have been just words though, and me reciting instead of requesting.
Side thought here, do you ever do that when your prayer needs more words? Start borrowing phrases from others, things from your childhood that maybe your parents or grandparents said? I hear my husband and I doing it often. (Give us what we stand in need of, that's ours.)
It doesn't mean we don't mean what we are saying, it’s just a comfortable filler, especially when praying out loud! We do this as children and it carries into adulthood. Remember, “God is great. God is good. Let us thank him for our food."? Sometimes I’m in a hurry to eat and find myself still saying pieces of that prayer! Good grief! I'm almost 50; surely I can do better than that.
Ok, moving on. This prayer is known as the eleventh step prayer. It is a good one, but I try to revise it and put it in my own words. Then it It feels a little more genuine, but I do love this one. When I read this prayer I feel peaceful, like I have given myself permission not to be in charge. That God is in charge and I am good with that. He is the only one I want to direct my steps and this prayer covers just about any path I might take throughout the day.
God, direct my thinking today so that it be empty of self pity and fear.
God, inspire my thinking, decisions and intuitions.
Help me to relax and take it easy. Free me from doubt and indecision.
Guide me through this day and show me my next step.
God, show me what I need to do to take care of any problems.
I ask all these things that I may be of maximum service
to you and my fellow man. Thy will be done ... Not Mine.
Good stuff, right? Now don’t misunderstand me here. God hears all of our prayers, whether they are pre-written or original. His only request is that they come from your heart. That you mean them.
What do you pray for when you ask for God's will to be done? A total umbrella? "Lord, your will be done in every area of my life." Or is it something specific: “Lord, your will be done. I give to you my child and all his or her problems? My addiction? My affair? My hidden spending? My spouse's abuse? My feeling of hopelessness? My cancer? My shame from the past?"
He will take whatever you want him to. He will show you the way. Remember it says, “The knowledge of his will." He might not make the problem disappear, but he will show you what to do about it. You have to listen for his instruction and then be wiling to carry it out. Keep in mind he is going to equip you with whatever you need.
I cannot emphasize enough how important prayer is. If you make prayer a regular daily (or hourly) occurrence, I promise you will feel a difference in your life. If you use prayer regularly already, you know what I mean. Just like the body cannot survive without food or air, the soul craves prayer. We don’t feel plugged into our support system without it. We need the light that God provides for nourishment. That’s the reality here.
The other thing I love about this step is the line: “And the power to carry it out.”
To me, that is saying that I will do whatever you ask, wherever you lead me, and I know that you will give me all the power I need to make it happen.
There was a day when I refused to ask for God's will for me. I did not want to put down my liquid best friend. I knew my drinking was not part of his will for me and that I was running in the opposite direction. I knew in my heart that nothing was going to change until I stopped drinking. And as badly as I wanted that change to happen, I still wasn't willing to give up alcohol
I feel like when I said, “OK God, enough." He was like, “Ok, here we go. I am going to be with you and give you all the power you need to overcome this." Then, kind of like Step 11, there were two parts to my quitting. First, when I gave up and said “God, I know this is not your will for me but what is?" And he started to show me. Showing me things he wanted me to do or say (in public!) That my secret was no longer going to be a secret. That not only would I quit drinking I would start writing and talking about my addiction. There is a huge element of trust here. He definitely gives me the “power to carry it out.” His power, not mine.
Last week I went over a list of questions from the tenth step app. For Step 11, the Four Absolutes are used. They are: Absolute Love, Absolute Honesty, Absolute Unselfishness, and Absolute Purity. So when examining thoughts, words, and actions, ask yourself these four questions:
Am I acting out of love?
Am I being honest?
Am I acting unselfishly?
Are my motives pure?
All four of those questions are the perfect way to handle any person or situation that you are un-sure about. There is no second guessing about how to react or handle it. That is, if you want to listen to God on how to deal with it. If you can answer yes to all of them, then you know you are doing the right thing. Or as they say in AA, “Doing the next right thing.” Then you can go about your life (or your day) knowing you followed through the dilemma the way God would want you to do.
Say I were to pull up to the liquor store because I was considering drinking again, and had those four questions in front of me. This is what answering them honestly looks like for me, “No, this is not an action out of love. It is dishonest because I will lie about it. It's also selfish and there is nothing pure about my motive.”
Now that is a pretty drastic example, but what about the little things? Like when you want to get out of a meeting or get together because you really just don't feel like it. C’mon, we've all been there! I don't mind at all if a friend has to cancel a planned get together, if they are honest and I understand their motive. Like, “I haven't seen my husband all week and really feel I need to stay home tonight.” Well, as much as I might be bummed, I do understand a lot easier than if she would have made up an excuse. Honestly, we can all see through those fake excuses and it doesn't say a lot for your integrity. Honesty truly is the best policy.
Double up this decision making process with prayer and you are all set.
So how do you feel about Step 11 and the action it wants you to take? You obviously don’t have to be an addict to use these steps in any situation. When we focus on a step, take out of it what sticks with you. It doesn't have to be everything, that’s a lot of material! Believe me I don’t do this all perfectly, but I am work in progress, just like you. Be real and have a great weekend!
*Here’s my weekly AA caveat. In AA these steps are done with a sponsor which I did not choose to do. However the track record of success in doing these steps with a sponsor in relation to drugs and alcohol has proven to have had great success in moving someone into living a life of sobriety. So if you are interested in looking at this from an AA perspective I encourage you to pursue it! There is a ton of information out there.