“Admitted that we were powerless over alcohol, that our lives had become unmanageable.”
This is our first hurdle when entering the fellowship of AA. Some of us put up arguments but, the AAers were quick to squash any notion that controlling drinking was a viable option. A few of us opted for the ‘controlled drinking’ theory, did more field research and returned defeated and humiliated. We finally made the admission and went forward with step 1 accomplished.
Much of AA wisdom is based on ancient tenets of the world’s faith walks. Bill W. and Dr. Bob knew that preaching religion would get them nowhere in recruiting drunks to their newly formed recovery program. Instead they called God a Higher Power and incorporated many precepts of Christianity and Buddhism into the 12 step program we have today as a way to recovery. Obviously it worked. Millions who would never darken the doors of churches are victoriously sober.
The first of the Beatitudes in Christian scripture says, “Blessed (or happy) are the poor in spirit; the kingdom of heaven is theirs.”
When we come to AA we are humbled by the demon alcohol. We have been emptied of all self-respect. We are begging for relief from our addictions. We have nothing left of ourselves to contribute to life. We are like children, beginners searching for a way to live sober lives. We have tried cures, religion, medication, hospitalization, therapy to no avail. We are empty, we are beggars, we are nobodies. Then at our first meeting the old-timers tell us we have to admit powerlessness and unmanageability. Unthinkable!
“Well,” they say, “Go back out there and try some more drinking.”
“Poor in spirit” is the powerlessness referred to in Alcoholics Anonymous 1st step. The writer in the book of Matthew 5:3 uses the Greek word ptochoi, for poor which literally means, “the very empty ones, those who are crouching.” That is an accurate description of us at our first meeting, is it not? cac.org
This first step of AA and this first Beatitude of the teachings of Jesus both lead us to a way of living which emphasizes giving up ourselves in service to others. And the irony is that just as Jesus did not say the kingdom of heaven will be theirs, rather, the kingdom is theirs, the program of AA does not say its benefits will be realized in another life. We are not applying for life-time memberships in the eternity club. No, we will know serenity and peace in this life. We will realize the “promises” of AA as we empty ourselves of selfishness, arrogance, and self-preoccupation. AA PROMISES
When I lose myself in service work with other alcoholics, I become free. Jesus on the Mount was saying, “Happy are you (blessed are the poor in spirit), you’re the freest of all (the kingdom of heaven is yours)”.
Yes, I am powerless today. I am powerless over alcohol and I am powerless over the turmoil in this world. I am a beggar, a loser, a misfit, and a runaway in the eyes of “successful” America. But, I no longer need to compete in worldly games. Competitors are preoccupied with winning. My Higher Power has already won my race for me.
“Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.” Janis Joplin – ME AND BOBBY MCGEE