Step Ten: Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
Step Eleven: 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.
We are now in what has traditionally been called the “maintenance phase” of recovery. We have discovered a God of love who is willing and able to clean us up. We have admitted everything we ever did wrong, to the best of our ability, and we have cast ourselves upon the mercy of our Maker. We have made amends to those whom we have harmed. And now, our journey begins. We are in a new spring of our lives; we have been given a “fresh start.”
So how do we “keep” the progress we have made? We do Step Ten and Step Eleven (and Step Twelve, but more on that another day)!
If we have been given so great a gift as a new life in the mercy of Jesus, we ought to hold tight onto it. One thing that tripped us up before was our offenses against God and others. Now, equipped with the power of the Holy Spirit and new tools we can do things a little differently.
When we offend God by our secret and private sins—our vanity, pride, gluttony, lust—we can make haste to reconcile to Him. We can flee to confession and hear the words pronounced over us: “I absolve you of your sins.” And when we harm our brother or sister, we can make haste to make things right with him or her. And then we can go to confession still!
To keep our slate clean and to remain in a state of grace, we can examine each day all of our thoughts and actions (Step Ten). Our sins will quickly accuse us (the Devil loves this part), but then we can remember the cross of Jesus and quickly confess our wrongs (and praise Him for our grace-empowered “rights!”) and go and make a good confession as soon as possible. But it is this daily inventory that is the key. Many Catholics practice an old Ignatian technique called the Examen prayer, which is much like making the tenth step daily.
To keep ourselves close to the heart of God (Step Eleven), we can pray. Praying is not so difficult. We must merely talk to God and check our selfishness at the door (praying only for knowledge of His will for us). This is where all of the fun begins! God can do many wonders with a docile soul.
When we go to God in prayer, we join legions of saints who made it to heaven conversing with their Sovereign, whom they gave total rights over their lives (for a happy treatise on surrendering to God, read this short essay by St. Thérèse Couderc).
Surrendering our will to God in prayer requires a lot of trust, which we began to learn about in Step Three. Trust is very hard! Because it means giving up control of our lives. But even the great difficulty of trust is something that God can and will help us with, if we only but ask Him.
Charlie lives in sunny Florida with his small (but growing!) family. He holds a B.A. in Religion and Apologetics and has a passion for writing about recovery and the Catholic Faith in his spare time. Charlie’s 12-step experience has been in overeaters anonymous, but he finds joy in “working the steps” in every aspect of his life and sharing those tools with others. You can also find him writing at tamingthewilds.com.