Devotions for 12 Step Spirituality – Breathing Under Water
We admitted we were powerless over alcohol that our lives had become unmanageable. Step 1 of the Twelve Steps
“Like a weaver, you roll up my life, and cut it from the loom. From dawn to night you are watching my failure. I cry aloud until the morning, but like a lion you crush all my bones. I twitter like a swallow, I moan like a dove.” Isaiah 38:12–14 “I cannot understand my own behavior. I fail to carry out the very things I want to do, and find myself doing the very things I hate...for although the will to do what is good is in me, the performance is not.” Romans 7:15, 18 “And when Jesus looked at the crowds, he felt sorry for them, because they were harassed and dejected, like sheep without a shepherd.” Matthew 9:36
Step One: Powerlessness
“People who fail to do it right…are those who often break through to enlightenment and compassion”. Think of a time when you felt failure and pain. How did this experience change you? 2. “It is the imperial ego that has to go, and only powerlessness can do the job correctly.” What area of your life do you have a need to control? 3. “No one likes to die to who they think they are.” Describe yourself. Now think about letting go of that image. 4. “What the ego hates more than anything else in the world is to change.” What makes change difficult for you?
Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. Step 2 of the Twelve Steps “The God of old is still your refuge. This God has everlasting arms that can drive out the enemy before you.” Deuteronomy 33:27 “Yes, we are carrying our own death warrant with us, but it is teaching us not to rely on ourselves, but on a God whose task is to raise the dead to life. ” 2 Corinthians 1:9
“While he was still a long way off, the father saw him and was moved with pity. He ran to the boy, clasped him in his arms and kissed him tenderly.” Luke 15:21
Step Two: Desperate Desiring Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. Step 2 of the Twelve Steps
“The God of old is still your refuge. This God has everlasting arms that can drive out the enemy before you.” Deuteronomy 33:27 “Yes, we are carrying our own death warrant with us, but it is teaching us not to rely on ourselves, but on a God whose task is to raise the dead to life.” 2 Corinthians 1:9 “While he was still a long way off, the father saw him and was moved with pity. He ran to the boy, clasped him in his arms and kissed him tenderly.” Luke 15:21
1. “It takes major surgery…to get head, heart, and body to put down their defenses.” In what area of your life do you most strongly resist opening up to new ways of being? 2. “To keep the mind space open, we need some form of contemplative or meditation practice.” How can you begin to be still and just be in the presence of this Higher Power? 3. “I think your heart needs to be broken, and broken open, at least once to have a heart at all or to have a heart for others.” Share a time when your heart was broken. How has this led you to greater compassion? 4. “For many of us the body is more repressed and denied than even the mind or the heart.” When was the last time you touched someone or that someone touched you? What stops you from doing this? Rohr, Richard. Breathing Under Water: Spirituality and the Twelve Steps
Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God. Step 3 of the Twelve Steps “O, come to the water all you who are thirsty. Though you have no money, come! Buy corn without money, and eat; and, at no cost, wine and milk. Why spend money on what is not bread, your wages on what fails to satisfy?” Isaiah 55:1–2
“Work for your salvation in fear and trembling. It is God, for his own loving purposes, who puts both the will and the action into you.” Philippians 2:12–13
“Ask, and it will be given to you; search and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. For the one who asks always receives; the one who searches always finds; the one who knocks will always have the door opened.” Matthew 7:7–8
Step Three: Sweet Surrender
1. “Surrender will always feel like dying, and yet it is the necessary path to liberation” (p. 18). What kind of death in your life would bring liberation to you?
2. “What makes so much religion so innocuous… is that there has seldom been a concrete ‘decision to turn our lives over to the care of God’” (p. 20). Have you ever had the experience of turning your life over to God? What happened?
3. “You see, there is a love that sincerely seeks the spiritual good of others, and there is a love that is seeking superiority” (p. 22). From your relationship with others, share an example of both ways of loving.
4. “We have been graced for a truly sweet surrender, if we can radically accept being radically accepted—for nothing!” (p. 27). How have you known unconditional love?
Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. Step 4 of the Twelve Steps
“Sacrifice gives you no pleasure, were I to offer a holocaust, you would not have it. My sacrifice is this broken spirit. You will never scorn a crushed and broken heart.” Psalm 50:16–17
“If inside you have the bitterness of jealousy, or a selfish ambition, never make any false claims for yourself or cover up the truth with lies.” James 3:14
“Be awake and pray that you pass the test. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:41
Step Four: A Good Lamp
1. “Begin some honest ‘shadow boxing’ which is at the heart of all spiritual awakening” (pp. 30–31). What part of you do you not want to see?
2. “The goal is…the struggle itself, and the encounter and wisdom that comes from it” (p. 31). Share a time when you struggled to face the truth. What happened?
3. “The game is over once we see clearly because evil succeeds only by disguising itself as good, necessary, or helpful” (p. 34). Think of a time when you stopped denying and admitted that some situation or relationship was bad, unnecessary, or harmful. What happened?
4. “God uses our sins in our own favor! God brings us—through failure—from unconsciousness to ever-deeper consciousness and conscience” (p. 35). Think of a time when you admitted failure. How did that experience bring personal change?
Rohr, Richard. Breathing Under Water: Spirituality and the Twelve Steps St. Anthony Messenger Press. Kindle Edition.