Fellowship of Saints and Sinners

Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.  – “Step 12” of Alcoholics Anonymous

The trials of single parenting and a full-time job have kept me away from this intersection. But in between bedtime wake-up calls, soccer and swim practices, and work deadlines, I’ve been thinking about the “T” in our 12-Step-inspired series, “REST for Restless Souls.”

First, a quick review of where we’ve been in this five-part series. We asked what “rest” for restless souls looks like as a lived daily reality, and suggested it’s “recovery” — recovery of the joy, peace and freedom God wants for us. That’s when we explored how insights from the recovery-based “12 Steps” of Alcoholics Anonymous might help in getting us there.

The acronym “REST” has laid out that path:

  1. “R” is for “Recognize.” We recognize our spiritual restlessness for what it is, much in the same way that those in recovery for addiction must first admit to their powerlessness over drugs or alcohol.
  2. “E” is for “Evaluate.”  We evaluate why we are spiritually restless. This exercise requires probing and unearthing the origins of our restlessness with the same spirit behind AA’s call for a “searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.”
  3. “S” is for “Surrender.”  We surrender our life, including our restlessness, to the care of God as we understand God. This form of surrender is freeing: it frees us from living our lives disingenuously, according to someone else’s prescriptions for what to believe or how to live. If, for example, we can’t understand God as others may have portrayed Him for us — as a stern drill sergeant who could care less whether we’re miserable all the time — then we really don’t have to surrender to that God.

And, last, “T” is for “Try.”

Step 12 reads: “Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.”

Finding rest — recovering joy, peace, freedom and wholeness — also means trying to serve others. It means trying to share the rest God gives us with those who need the same. This also depends on trying to practice the daily, 12-Step recovery principles of self-honesty, humility and forgiveness, so that what we are sharing with our neighbor is a real and genuine faucet of who we are, not just pretense.

The insertion of “try” here is key to entering into rest. “Try” implies that we won’t always succeed. In fact, there will be times when even our very best looks like fall-on-our-face failure, both to us and to those around us.

We will fail at loving and serving others.

We will also fail to live by the very principles we affirm to be true and that bring God-given rest to our souls.

The reality is our best may not be good enough for others. It may even fall short of what we expect from ourselves. But so long as we’re trying — so long as we’re doing the best we can at any given moment — that is enough for God.

“T” is for “Try.”