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5 Things I Learned from the 12 Steps

Ann Spangler
Ann Spangler
2015 11 Jun

Years ago I went to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.

I was there to support a relative who was trying to get help with her problem drinking. It was one of the holiest experiences in my life. Why? Because I experienced God’s unmistakable presence as broken down people shared with complete honesty about their need for “a power greater than themselves to restore them to sanity.” I wanted to sign up on the spot, not to conquer my problem with alcohol but to know God more deeply by associating with people who had learned the truth of what Paul said, that “when I am weak, then I am strong.”

What I learned in that room of recovering alcoholics has stuck with me. Here are five things that stand out.

1. God is drawn to people who are completely honest about their weakness and failings.

2. Even those who look best on the outside are a wreck inside if they don’t surrender to Christ.

3. All of us—including and perhaps especially me—need Jesus to restore us to sanity and keep us sane.

4. Even after being a Christian for many years, I am still broken and in radical need of God’s grace every single day of my life.

5. If I surrender myself to God daily, he will not only strengthen me but will use my brokenness and failures for a good purpose.

Though Alcoholics Anonymous is not an explicitly Christian program, it reinforced my understanding of the gospel—that the end game is not about conquering but about being conquered. It’s about surrendering my life to a God so loving and strong that he can take the wreck that is me and transform it into something beautiful by the power of his presence in my life.