It’s December. For many people December means Christmas. Family. Buying presents. Stressing out that the kids will be home from school with not enough to do. Anxiety about travel, money, year end reviews at work.
December can also mean reminders, memories good and bad. I miss my Dad at Christmas. He loved making our house look like the Griswolds from Christmas Vacation. You probably could see our house lit up from space. I also remember the Christmas after my wife discovered the depth of my acting out and addiction. Not a great holiday.
For a lot of us, though, December also means Step 12. I love how the Steps align perfectly with the months of the year, giving me the opportunity to focus on each one each month. Step 12, the penultimate part of recovery:
Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we try to carry this message to others and practice these principles in all our lives.
Prior to having that spiritual awakening spoken of in Step 12, I took pride in being a realist, searching for the practical application. When I got to the final Step, that practicality was still there. How do I carry this message to others and practice all these principles as part of my daily life? I came up with four musts that allowed me to wrap my brain around this Step and to enact it in the 5 plus years since I first got to Step 12. Take what you like and leave the rest.
One: It’s not about me. The message I am carrying to others isn’t about me. It’s about what Jesus has done for me and through me. Prior to the spiritual awakening that only he can provide, I was stuck. Stuck in my shame, acting out, deception. Powerless. Just like Step 1 says, I was powerless to my addiction and compulsive behavior until I wasn’t. What changed was Jesus, not me.
Two: I am not in charge. If it’s not about me then it isn’t my message. It’s his. So if it’s his message, then I need to take it where he wants me to. When I was working Step 5, my sponsor gave me some excellent advice (thanks, Sean!). He told me to share my story in three situations: when it benefits me, when it benefits someone else, and when the Holy Spirit urges me to share. I had a good friend tell me this week that God wants us to be “interruptable,” to listen for his change in direction. I have to be willing to go in another direction if it’s his will. After all, it’s his message.
Three: I need to lean on his words. My good friend Lee taught me that communication with God starts with grounding myself in his word. I should always start and end there. In 2 Timothy 3:16, Paul reminds us that all scripture is “God breathed,” written by man but breathed by God. To hear his voice and to validate his will, I have to start and end in his word.
Four: My faith will overcome my fear. Following his direction is scary. My focus throughout most of my life was on what I could control. Allowing God to be in charge means letting go of control, direction, and decisions. That lack of control can cause me fear. What if I go the wrong way or do the wrong thing? Am I sure that is what God had in mind for me? My pastor shared a message this Sunday in which he highlighted a very cool truth: the more you cultivate faith in God, the more he shows up to validate his will. I have found peace and comfort in that simple truth. Oh, and I have also found it to be true. God validates some of the decisions about which I have the most fear. Just because he can and because he loves me.
I pray that your December is a reminder that its not about you, its about what Jesus is doing in you and through you. I pray that you remember that you aren’t in charge, he is. You gave him that right when you finished Step 3 (really when you realized you were powerless alone). I pray you start and end in his word, finding his voice and validating the truths he places in your heart. I pray you take steps of faith to overcome your fear. Test that he will validate your faith. He will. He said he would. Carry his message in whatever way he designed you to do so. Have a great 12th month and 12th Step.