~ 2012 Form ~
"Faith is the evidence of our trust in God. True
faith is the result of surrender coupled
with experience that God can and will do for us if we ask for help."
While faith can feel like an invisible, internal quality, the results are highly visible to those around us. They can see our joy, gratitude and contentment. Our sad need for justification, placing blame on others and selfish motivation makes people back off from us. Just as others can see the evidence of faith, they can also see the lack of it. Trying to force out of others what can only be given freely stands in the way of our own happiness. When we realize this, we can begin to reverse the processes that have entrapped us. We begin by accepting ourselves and others as they are. By doing this, we are beginning to get real. In reality, we can find ourselves and make contact with others without resorting to the games we used to play.
As we continue on our spiritual journey, we realize that our growth comes from changes that occur first inside and later show up in how we think, act, feel and speak. Our actions and choices speak of our gratitude. As fear lessens, faith increases. Fear constantly robs us of time, energy and good feelings; faith rewards us with these things. Faith is a subject that is discussed in meetings and is also a part of our daily personal recovery routine. Since our service positions require some degree of knowledge of our Twelve Steps and Traditions, it is worth noting that we are expected to apply spiritual principles to our service. We all know of painful periods when members forgot the spiritual in service and got so caught up in the `business' of NA, all other considerations were set to the side. It has taken great faith for us to survive these assaults on our spiritual body. Our knowledge of spiritual principles is based in our spiritual condition and our progress into the Twelve Steps.
Doing for ourselves frees us and enables us to stand on our own. We used to manipulate others into doing for us. The defects that held us back in life are cut away by active surrender to facts, desire for something better and the willingness to do our part. Prayer to the God of our understanding to remove our shortcomings severs our ties with our old ways. A thief only steals that which they lack. When a thief feels they have enough, he stops stealing. By changing our values and filling our real need to feel good and enjoy life, we no longer envy and seek to take what is not ours.
As we increase in personal responsibility, we reduce our dependence on others. By doing what we can and should do for ourselves we are freed of blaming others. Games of manipulation and fear of losing control become troublesome and inconvenient when we learn we are free to act directly. Before faith, we looked at life in terms of past pain and present failure. After gaining faith, we look at life differently. For the first time since childhood, the future may begin to hold some charm for us.
Deceit, falsification, manipulation and plotting are unnecessary for those of us who have come to know ourselves through faith in a loving and caring God. If a person wants their own money, property and prestige, we must first discover that we already have some money, some property and some prestige. These things may exist in such small quantities that it may never occur to us that we could be grateful for them. However, it has been our experience that if we aren't grateful for what we have, we will likely fail to acknowledge an increase and only long for more. Gratitude is the antidote for avarice. Gratitude must be learned if we are to feel grateful. Some of us write a gratitude list every morning to get in touch with the positive in our lives, because focusing on the negative has become habitual. Taking care of and being grateful for what we already have is the surest way to get more. If we are not taking care of what we have, then the very people who are willing and able to help us will think that we are unable to handle more! As a kindness, they won't give us more than we can handle.
As recovering addicts, we know what happens when we get more than we need or can care for: the answer to our prayers is at first a burden, then a curse. We learn to ask God to remove our shortcomings because we no longer want to fall short. We correctly suspect there are better ways to meet our needs and can see the sense of letting go our grasp on the old so we can reach out for the new with an open hand. Like our other spiritual principles, faith becomes more than a word to us through our own experience and practice.
Unavoidably, we elect people to serve who are in various stages of recovery and this actually means that while someone may be comfortable with surrender to their disease in general terms, they may be absolutely unable to admit fault or gain direction through prayer and meditation. Remembering this may help some members show special attention to others where politics and personal rivalries come into play.
It is vital that enough old-timers stay involved to offset the negativity of personal opinion and rumor mongering that defeat our spiritual aims. Many of us who have gained faith as a result of working the twelve steps expect problems in groupís to be solved because the steps have taught us to live in the solution. There are always ways to set things right and go on clean. We just have to use the power of spiritual principles to maintain order and sound procedures. Service dysfunction is rewriting guidelines when we don't understand the guides passed along to us by those who went before. The old custom of electing persons involved with their committee will generally protect us from incompetent chairpersons.
While some of these problems are simple in origin, we have found that with faith we stay in the problem for shorter periods of time while we live in the solution most of the time. Faith is trusting the results without the benefit of experience. We begin to feel confident instead of afraid. We start to believe on a deeper level the importance of faith in our lives. Faith allows the addict to smile even during the worst of times. Faith is hope put into action. We start to do the things that others are doing who are working a program. During the third step, we acquire faith as a result of doing the foot work. If we lose our faith and allow the disease to run our lives again, we're in real trouble. When we keep our faith in times of trouble, we demonstrate our commitment to the twelve steps of Narcotics Anonymous. We finally realize that without doing the spiritual work, no spiritual benefits exist.
Only the calmative effect of members who have survived some of these situations can point out some positive things, what we're here for and even make a few jokes to relieve the tension. It used to be we had little historical experience on which to base our policies, much less written documents, reports and accumulated minutes going back in some cases several decades.
Today, with God's help, we can again pray, discuss and meditate on things that bother us and gain knowledge without having to go through known problem areas again! We have found that through faith we are enabled to go beyond some of our personal boundaries. Usually, when the facts are finally dug out, simple knowledge of what to do in the situation at hand comes out at the same time. Sometimes, it takes faith just to get the facts straight.
One acronym for faith is: Feeling - As - If - Trust - Heals. Taking these ideas on in many forms, helps us first notice, then adopt, new ideas. By trusting a loving, caring and forgiving God, we realize that we have been empowered to face life and recover. The fears that had paralyzed us in the past are now small obstacles along our journey. We can overcome them with faith. By trusting our God, we surrender our old ideas and begin to change.
Our new way of living has sometimes been uncomfortable, however through practicing faith it is also very rewarding. Our old perceptions of life changed drastically. Our new perceptions include faith, hope, happiness and a positive attitude toward living. Through our belief that trust heals, we have found that God was doing for us what we never could do for ourselves.
As our faith in our Higher Power grows, we begin to develop a new form of trust. We are able to reach out to the trusting hand of another addict. This can be very hard for many of us and may have been a slow process. Yet, we kept reaching out and giving an addict a piece of our lives that was very personal and private. We came to believe that an addict who was recovering could also be trusted. We finally had faith and trust in other human beings. We finally had friends who loved us unconditionally. Faith in God leads us to faith in ourselves and others.
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Reprinted from the
N.A. FELLOWSHIP USE ONLY
Copyright © December 1998
Victor Hugo Sewell, Jr.
NA Foundation Group
6685 Bobby John Road Atlanta, GA 30349 USA
All rights reserved. This draft may be copied by members of Narcotics Anonymous for the purpose of writing input for future drafts, enhancing the recovery of NA members and for the general welfare of the Narcotics Anonymous Fellowship as a whole. The use of an individual name is simply a registration requirement of the Library of Congress and not a departure from the spirit or letter of the Pledge, Preface or Introduction of this book. Any reproduction by individuals or organizations outside the Fellowship of Narcotics Anonymous is prohibited. Any reproduction of this document for personal or corporate monetary gain is prohibited.