What a crazy weekend last week! If you are from Michigan, you know what I mean! The weekend started out feeling like summer and ended up feeling like fall! Crazy Michigan weather! We survived the tornados and are so thankful our family, friends, and employees were kept safe because a few of them were way too close for comfort! The weekend went on to be a lazy rainy one, which is just fine with me.
Remember, I said the rest of my summer was going to be total chill and I intend to carry that out! On Sunday we headed home. This week is all about getting our youngest moved back to college. Her summer may be over, but ours is still going. This coming weekend we will have our grandson! It’s going to be a busy one and I am sure you’ll see a few pictures from the weekend here next week. After the weekend it will be a quiet here at the lake before the big move back home for the long, hard winter. Not going there yet, are we?
Here we are on our last step! I find it kind of funny how each of these steps have been used in my life this summer. I have learned so much and will continue to apply a lot of what I have learned in my daily walk through my crazy life. I should know it’s not a coincidence, it’s totally a God thing!
So here is our last review:
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.
Don’t panic, even though we are to step 12. I know I said this would take us through the summer, but I did combine steps 8 and 9; so relax there is still one more full week of summer!
Drum roll, please. Here is the last step:
Step 12: Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps; we tried to carry out this message to others and to practice these principles in all our affairs
Here we are at the end of the steps! Have I learned a lot this summer? Yes! Am I trying to apply instruction to my daily life based on these Steps? Yes! Do I give the Steps the credit for my spiritual awakening that brought me out of the pit of addiction and into recovery? No!
God gets all the glory here. I truly did have a spiritual awakening. Many, as a matter of fact, where I feel God placed his hands firmly on my shoulders and said, “Are you ready to live the life I have planned for you?” In fact, he asked me that many times and the last time he asked me I said yes.
So what exactly is a Spiritual Awakening? The dictionary only gives me "awakening," so we will start there.
An awakening is when the confused and frightened self transcends to a higher consciousness, an awareness full of love and peace.
That does nail it and sounds beautiful, doesn't it? I was confused and frightened among other things, to say the least. When I finally said yes to God, that did transcend to an increased awareness of love and peace. I cannot describe to you how it felt to be feel fully loved and cared for. Safe. I knew he was the only one that could deliver me from this and I refuse to give anyone or anything else credit.
To say you have had an awakening to me, means you “woke up.” What is it that woke you up or what do you need to wake up from? I thank God every day I didn't get woken up with a DUI, a divorce, or a jail cell. Or friendless and abandoned by my family. That happens you know. Some of you reading this might be there.
In AA, they call those the “yets”. All those things that haven't happened yet… I do not understand why any of those things didn't happen because, by all rights, they should have. At least some of them. There were many mornings I would wake up and ask God, “Why do you keep saving me? Why did you surround me with family and friends that love and care so much?" No matter how much I pushed them away, they kept coming back for more.
It was in that time towards the end of my drinking career, when I had the constant (that still-small-voice-thing) feeling that he had something planned for me. I had no idea what it was, but I did know that I was made for more than this. That I might be worth saving.
It took me a long time to come to that realization and I did it rather reluctantly. I was so low that I couldn't imagine that God could use me for anything. Here’s his truth though, even if all those horrible consequences (the yets) of my drinking had happened, I still wouldn't have been alone.
If you are feeling hopeless or alone, always remember that you are not.
So, let's go back, what do you need to “wake up” from? What are you are struggling with? Possibly only you and God know what that is, but I promise he can help you leave it behind. I look back on a lot of things in life I spent so much time running from and trying to deal with on my own. I put so much energy into trying to fill myself up with earthly things. No amount of alcohol, food, money, exercise (extreme biking in my case) could ever fill that bottomless pit I lived with every day. Only God can and he did! So often we try everything else first and he is the last resort. He has so much grace though and doesn't seem to mind. Not to mention, he is very patient.
Your wake up call could come as a health scare that you need to lose weight, eat better and exercise. Are you deep in debt or overspending? Addicted to drugs and/or alcohol? There is a plethora of support for those things. God might send a wake up call your way in the form of a pamphlet in the mail, an inquiry of concern from a friend, or advice from a doctor. The ways he uses to get our attention are endless. You can grab on early in the game or wait for things to get harder and harder to repair. It’s your choice, but I highly advise heeding the early warnings.
I was listening to a Rick Warren podcast recently and he said this, “Conflict is what God uses to get our attention. He’s not targeting you; he is trying to get your attention!” When I thought about that, I was a little stunned and it reminded me of what we are talking about here. There have been many conflicts (aka wake-up calls) in my life that I have tried to ignore or fix myself. What if I would have made better choices when God first started to trying to get my attention?
I have to tell you that I have applied this to my life this past week and plan on continuing this way of thinking. When conflict arose, I found myself asking what might God be trying to get my attention for. It opens your eyes to what a situation is actually about. Try it and you will see what I mean.
“God can do anything you know-far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams. He does it not by pushing us around, but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.” - Galatians 5:20, MSG
And he can. Anything. When the Bible says, “Far more than you could ever imagine or request in your wildest dreams.” How could you doubt it? If you look at what God has already done for us by hanging his son on a cross to die for us, how could you doubt him and his ability to help you?
Then let God use your weakness and your healing process to draw others closer to him. Like Step 12 says, “Carry out this message to others.” That’s why I’m talking about this. With all that I have been through in life, I wish had woken up much earlier. I have always wanted to write. I just wasn’t sure what I was supposed to write about. God gave me some material and I ignored it. Apparently, there was going to be a lot more to write about in my future because he kept it up and I kept ignoring him until I had about 10 years of journals. And then I finally woke up.
It was time, way past time, to really listen to God and what he was trying to tell me. Wake up, share your story, and use it to help someone else. That is what the 12th step means to me. I am not sharing my story to say LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT WHAT I DID! Are you kidding me? I just wanted to quit drinking and live my life. No, I share my story to show you this is possible. If I can do this, so can you. You can overcome anything with God's help.
We may be done covering the steps this summer, but there is one more step. A step in Faith.
It is the step you have to take to get over what is getting all over you. Then, dive into the 12 steps with God and don’t look back.
“and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace”