step eleven

Step Eleven: Journey Through the Twelve Steps

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This year, we have a monthly series discussing ways to engage and work each of the Twelve Steps.  Stemming from the Alcoholics Anonymous tradition, the Twelve Steps have made their way into the treatment of many addictive behaviors.  My specific focus will be on sex and love addiction, particularly in Christian women.  If you’re interested in finding an in-person, online, or phone meeting for sex and love addiction, check out Sex Addicts Anonymous or Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous.  Before you read this post, check out my introduction to the Twelve Steps to learn about support and resources.

Step Eleven: We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out. 

Step Eleven builds on the Tenth Step work of taking a daily inventory of your life, as it integrates your relationship with God into that inventory.  The spiritual growth you’ve experienced through the 12 steps has helped you come to depend on God as your source of life, rather than turning to your addiction to feel satisfied.

This step differs from previous spiritual steps by shifting your relationship with God beyond just intense dependence on Him in establishing sobriety into acknowledging God as the guiding force in all areas of your life.  It requires a deepening of your faith and relationship with God in a way that extends beyond empty religious actions.  You will need to find spiritual practices that work to help you build regular conscious contact with God.

How to Work Step Eleven

Create a sacred space.

Where have you had your best experiences with God?  Maybe it’s while you’re out on a walk in the woods, or when you’re wrapped up in a blanket sipping a cup of tea or coffee.  Is there a place in your home where you feel most connected to God?  Is your church a haven to you?  Designate a place that represents closeness in your relationship with God and visit it often.

Sacred space can be created in any physical location.  You might imagine a place in your mind where you feel peace or calm.  You can make a space sacred by lighting a candle, turning on soothing music, or practicing a breathing or meditation exercise.  Whatever you do, seek to set aside the stress of your daily life and enter into a space where you can experience God. 

Another way to cultivate this space involves creating sacred objects associated with a milestone in your recovery or spiritual journey.  For many, the surrender chip they received at their first 12 Step meeting serves this purpose.  If you’ve gone through a particular trial and experienced the closeness of God, choose an object that reminds you of that experience.

Keep a prayer journal.

You may have picked up journaling as a habit during your recovery work.  Use this new practice to engage spiritually.  Write down prayers that you have and review them regularly to see the ways in which God has answered them. 

Be curious about the ways in which God may be answering your prayers in a way you wouldn’t expect.  As an example, you may have hit rock bottom in your addiction, which led to a way out.  God could be using difficulties in your life circumstances to grow you closer in relationship to Him or others.

Connect with God in the morning.

What is the first thing that comes to mind in the mornings for you?  Is it the stress of the day ahead, the dream you had the night before, or wishing you could just drift back off to sleep?  Starting your day in dependence on God can set the course for how the rest of the day will go.

Ask God to be with you during the day.  Pray through the events of the day and any challenges you anticipate coming up in the next several hours.  Use a few minutes to read Scripture using apps like First 5 or Read Scripture.

Pray throughout your day.

Paul exhorts in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to pray without ceasing.  This might seem impractical if you’re splitting focus between work, family, or other tasks.  But you can use this simple Scripture to remind you to talk to God throughout your day as if he were a friend sitting beside you.  The Serenity Prayer can be a helpful, short prayer to memorize and repeat to yourself throughout your day to remind you to focus on God. 

End your day with God using nightly examen.

In discussing Step Ten, examen of consciousness was introduced as a way of reviewing your past day to identify where God was present or where you felt distant from him.  This helps to identify where God was at work in the daily, mundane experiences of your life, reminding you that God doesn’t just work through monumental events.

Taking the examen a step further involves asking God to point out areas where we’ve made mistakes, need to apologize, or could love others more fully.  Allow God to guide these reflections and reveal to you the areas where you can be focusing your attention in the days to follow.

Practice meditation.

Meditation is a popular topic right now, and there are several different ways to meditate.  Scripture meditation involves reflecting on a passage of scripture and allowing God to speak to you through it.  Reading meditations, as mentioned in the Step Ten, involve engaging with recovery literature to help remind you why you’re in recovery. 

Another form of meditation involves setting aside distractions like TV or phones and allowing yourself to connect to your breath in the present moment.  There are several different guided meditations and apps you can use to help in this process. Know that this will be difficult at first, especially if you are prone to anxiety.  The more you practice, the easier it will become. 

Meet regularly with a spiritual mentor or director.

While walking through the earlier steps, you may have identified a spiritual guide, such as a pastor, church member, or spiritual director, to help you through the Twelve Step process.  Now you have an opportunity to ask that individual to help you in your journey to transform all areas of your life.  You can ask that guide to hold you accountable to the changes you want to implement.

Sometimes it can be hard to see God at work in your own life, but others around you may be able to shed more light on His role.  Your spiritual mentor can observe your life and offer you reflections and encouragements, as well as pointing out blocks that are getting in the way of connecting with God.

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Are you facing sex and love addiction and feeling hopeless to quit?  Do you believe in God, but feel too ashamed to bring your addiction to Him?  Are you having a hard time connecting spiritually in your recovery?  At Restored Hope, I take a Christian-integrated approach to recovery from sex and love addiction, and I’d love to help you walk through your own journey of change.  Give me a call at 734.656.8191 or email me today to set up your first appointment.