“We are not saints. The point is, that we are willing to grow along spiritual lines. The principles we have set down are guides to spiritual progress. We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection.”
ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, pg 60
Affectionately known as THE BIG BOOK, the handbook for Alcoholics Anonymous refutes the belief that life has to be perfect, especially the spiritual life. Most normal people learn this as an aspect of maturation, but, for those of us who are not normal and have spent a great deal of time doing field research chasing the many dead ends of substance addictions, this can be a most difficult thing to accept about ourselves.
Upon achieving a few days or weeks or months of sober-living, we wanted to do everything perfectly. It’s as if we were trying to catch up on time lost doing what came most naturally to us, drinking and drugging. We tried to immediately resume our positions within the family and community. We strived to be our employer’s best employee. We wanted to grasp with utmost urgency the faith which had always eluded us before. That’s who we were in early sobriety and can still be today. “I want it and I want it now.”
“We are not saints,” sponsors would remind us when the brokenness we had created for ourselves overshadowed our attempts to be perfect. We launched into days of despair and depression over our shortcomings forgetting the wisdom, “We claim spiritual progress, not spiritual perfection.”
It’s not easy to practice “EASY DOES IT” as the signs on meeting room walls advise. It’s not easy to live “ONE DAY AT A TIME”. When we are told to “LET GO AND LET GOD” our natural instinct is to give God only that which causes us turmoil rather than every moment of every day. It is not easy becoming a spiritual instrument which our Higher Power can use to serve the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous and then, progressively, greater humanity outside the rooms of AA.
This devotion to sober-living becomes our spiritual calling in life leading to an acceptance that we will never graduate to receive a diploma or attain sainthood. We can only aspire and in that aspiration turn our will over every day to the One who saves the wretched and covers with grace their imperfection. That is the spiritual awakening promised by following the steps of recovery programs such as AA and CR.