A “Much More Important Demonstration of Our Principles” Lies Ahead

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For those of us alcoholics and addicts who have been blessed enough to find ourselves in recovery, we most likely already know that working the 12-Steps on a daily basis can provide us with a daily reprieve from our alcoholism and addiction. Maybe we just wanted recovery to get sober, but now there’s all this talk of spiritual principles and growth. Yet, we don’t want to go back to our old way of life. We want to stay sober — but it seems like the only way to do that is to get involved with the work of recovery. 

It might be an extremely good idea to work the 12-Steps. As we do this work and engage in all the elements of a recovery lifestyle, we may notice that each one of the 12-Steps teaches us about important spiritual principles as we practice them. These may be concepts we are familiar with, or things we never really paid attention to before, but the journey of recovery includes almost constant opportunity to learn and grow. As the “Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous says about our new sober life in recovery, “Our real purpose is to fit ourselves to be of maximum service to God and the people about us.” It isn’t just about getting sober. It’s about recovering, and the principles behind the 12-Steps help us fulfill our real purpose.

The Spiritual Principles of the 12-Steps

Each of the 12-Steps carries within it many lessons, helpful tools, and ways of thinking, behaving, or dealing with our lives. But each one is also founded upon a spiritual principle that can not only help us better grasp our 12-Step work as we go along, but is meant to spill over into our daily lives. For a firsthand and thorough experience with these principles, it is highly suggested to each alcoholic and addict that we find a sponsor, a home group meeting, and then work the 12-Steps. We will encounter many principles along this recovery journey. 

The principle woven into the 1st-Step is Honesty. Within the 2nd-Step, we have Hope. The 3rd-Step builds upon Faith. The 4th-Step asks us to have Courage. The 5th-Step gives us an opportunity to practice Integrity. The 6th-Step teaches us about Willingness. The 7th-Step shows us the beauty of Humility. The 8th-Step is really about Love. The 9th-Step lets us experience the positive aspects of Discipline. The 10th-Step teaches us how we may grow with Perseverance. The 11th-Step gradually builds our Awareness. The 12th-Step brings us right back to our true purpose, Service. Again, to really understand what all this means, it is recommended that you find a sponsor to help you take the 12-Steps.

What These Principles Mean for Us

Now that we know the principles that each of the 12-Steps teaches us, we can dig into what these principles mean for us. What each individual principle means in relation to the Step it’s connected with is a personal experience, but there is a reason the 12-Steps give us these lessons. Again, the Big Book says, “We feel that elimination of our drinking is but a beginning. A much more important demonstration of our principles lies before us in our respective homes, occupations, and affairs.” What this means is that mere sobriety is not enough. Though that may be all we came to Jaywalker Lodge for, if we truly want to stay sober, our only sure bet may well be engaging in the 12-Step program of recovery. Stopping alcohol and drugs is only the beginning — if we stop there, not only might we not stay sober for long, but we are selling ourselves extremely short. We could totally miss living the life of our dreams. If we incorporate the program of recovery into our lives, we may find ourselves experiencing a life full of meaning, freedom, joy, love, and companionship.

This “much more important demonstration of our principles” is simply encouraging us to incorporate the things we learn in recovery while taking the 12-Steps — and the principles underlying the Steps — into our daily lives. We don’t just recover at a facility, or in a meeting, or with our sponsor. Every second that we are sober and alive, we are either engaged with recovery or we are getting further away from it. We shouldn’t just be loving and tolerant to people we see at our home group meeting. We should be just as kind and loving at the grocery store, at work, and maybe especially, at home. We are asked to demonstrate our principles in all our affairs. All of them. 

The reason it’s so important to embody these spiritual lessons outside of our recovery community is a simple one. When we are with our recovering friends, sponsor, or in a meeting and we are falling short of spiritual and recovery ideals, there are people there who love us enough to tell us, to gently correct us, and/or help us work through the hang-ups. But when we are outside the recovery community and out in the world, we are the example. We are a sober, recovering member of the 12-Step community. There may be someone who needs our help — when they see us acting against the spiritual principles (even if they have no idea what those principles are), we lose our chance to fulfill our real and true purpose.

We are to fit ourselves to be of maximum service to God and our fellows. The most straightforward way to do this is to work the 12-Steps and embody the spiritual principles within them in every single aspect of our daily life. It may not even be an alcoholic or addict who needs our help, it may just be someone who is hurting. When they see us being a living example of those spiritual principles, they will know we are here to help — and we will be fulfilled by following through on our purpose in this life. 

Alcoholics and addicts are often not unprincipled people, but the disease robs them of their ability to live up to who they really are. Once engaged in the 12-Step process of recovery, these individuals are practically brought back to life. If you truly wish to get sober and remain in long-term recovery, but find yourself unable to do it alone, we can help. Call Jaywalker Lodge today at (866) 529-9255.

author avatar
Stefan Bate, MA, LAC, CCTP Chief Clinical Officer
Stefan Bate, BA, MA, LAC holds a Master's Degree in Applied Psychology from Regis University and is a Licensed Addiction Counselor in the state of Colorado. Stefan has wide-ranging experience in the field of addiction recovery including: working as a recovery coach, therapist, and program director.

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