One year. Twelve steps. A spiritual awakening.

My timing is terrible or perfect. Depends on your perspective. My journey through recovery landed at step 12 at the end of one year. Step 12, regardless of your flavor of recovery, is the culmination of a harrowing adventure of self discovery for most. For me, it has been truly as described. A spiritual awakening. And having experienced that awakening, it is now my charge to revisit these steps and to carry this message to others. To show the path that was shown to me.

My year hasn’t been smooth or simple or straight or calm or soothing or any other serene type words. Quite the opposite. It has looked like one of my earlier titles for a post – a rollercoaster. Lots of ups and downs. I remember clearly my step one, where I had to read my litany of sexual sins to a room full of people I didn’t know that well, while I sobbed under the weight of my shame. I can’t understate the importance of working step three, where I finally realized that I had turned my life and salvation over to God but never my will. I hadn’t ever truly believed that I could trust my secrets to Him and that He wouldn’t abandon me too. Ups and downs.

Completing a searching and fearless moral inventory in step four was way more suffocating than I imagined. But foundational. I review that list as my list. My flaws. The ones He imparted to me. Some are gone. Some are ingrained. All are there because of how He made me. And I am aware of them all. I know they are there and can only be endured by His strength, not mine. This realization gave me the courage to complete step five, to share my flaws with someone else. Someone not in recovery, who didn’t know my stains. Scary and valuable.

Through these flaws I see into the struggles of others. I can carry this message to others because my flaws are still here. Reviewing these flaws in light of step six, being entirely ready for God to remove them, for me meant truly being ready for God to bear them, for Him to have dominion over all of me. And using them for the difficult work to come. Amends.

Having a clear understanding of my defects of character has made it clear to me how I have hurt and damaged others. This awareness allowed me to identify those I had harmed, shaped my heart to become willing to make amends, and then actually following through. Seeking out a daily living amends to my wife. Constantly staying close to the pain and the brokenness my years of betrayal have caused her and building some stability with her, one moment by one moment. Spelling out in detail the years of absence and abandonment I caused to my boys and listening as they poured out their hurt from my lack of connection. And seeing the gift of time…the opportunity God has given me to make amends to them.

Today having an actual relationship with God. One where I listen and talk. Give and take. Understand and seek understanding. This year has been a true spiritual awakening. Gradual. Time consuming. Unending. And ready for the next step.

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