Step 11: 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.
Ok, I read that step and I immediately objected to the male chauvinism expressed in the pronouns. “What if She is black?” my friend once said to me. Yah! Or not a She or He? And It just doesn’t seem right either. So I’ve decided there isn’t a pronoun big enough to encompass The Higher Power of my understanding and my not understanding. And then I can move on to the real value of this step. When I was first in recovery, I honestly expected to be relieved of my compulsive eating after step 4, so I basically stopped working the steps.
Then with more time in recovery, I expected that relief after step 9 and stopped. I am a hard-headed soul and my defiance was a barrier to listening and being open to what I heard in meetings. But that same defiance kept me coming back and coming back over and over and over. Eventually I got through step 12 with my sponsor. Even then, I was not committed to working steps 10, 11, and 12 on a daily basis. It took a near relapse to wake me. I’ve had two long-term relapses in my recovery life. And when I say long-term, I mean 7 year and 8 year relapses. So I knew without a doubt that I did not want to relapse again, no matter what I would have to do.
My sponsor said work steps 10 and 11 on a daily basis, among other things. So I had to examine more closely what step 11 was. In Overeaters Anonymous 12 & 12, pg. 93, “…there is no one right way to do step eleven. “Keep it simple” is a good slogan to apply here. Remembering that our goal is to develop a closer conscious contact with God, prayer is simply what we do when we talk with our Higher Power and meditation is simply a way of stilling our minds and opening our spirits to God’s influence.” That IS simple. Talking to God/Higher Power is quite simple. However, I need to make time to do just that. If I just let it happen when I’m inspired, it doesn’t happen often enough. I get busy, distracted, tired, and involved, in daily life and neglect prayer and meditation. So I have a time and place each morning where I “talk with God” after meditating and record it. Then I share that with a friend. I am always more accountable if I have a commitment with another human. And quite often this person’s conversation with God has a message for me as well.
This two-way and three-way prayer has been invaluable for me. None of this came quickly, but evolved in my recovery life. I was awkward at first. Prayer had always been a time when I made requests of God in the past. However, recovery has taught me that “God’s Will be done, not mine.” I need to align my will with God’s Will now. That’s tough sometimes. I ask God a question or state a problem I’m having. Then I listen and write. I don’t always understand God, but I don’t understand electricity either and that doesn’t stop me from turning on the lights. I have seen it work in other’s lives and I want what they have and I want to keep what I’ve gained. And I need to work to keep it. Step 11 helps me do just that. As a teacher, I know the value of teaching and re-teaching. I apply that to working the program of these beautiful twelve steps. Work and rework the steps. So eleventh step is a daily step for me. And that works. Stick around till the miracle happens!
Originally published in the Heart of Texas OA Newsletter, November 2016.