The Twelve Promises of Alcoholics Anonymous
"Our whole attitude and outlook on life will change…"
Alcoholics Anonymous, page 84
This promise is one of my favorites because it is stated with such certainty. It sounds like a 100% guarantee that none of the old stuff will be left, and it will happen. The Big Book makes clear that this is not an extravagant promise. It "will always materialize" if–and here is the proviso–we work for it.
This promise says our whole attitude will change. Not a piece, but the entire person. First, I had to be convinced that my whole attitude needed changing–that there weren’t a few good parts that were worth hanging on to. Before working the Steps, I had the attitude that "I don’t care; it doesn’t matter anyway" about things that needed my attention. I was angry with people who had what I wanted and felt they didn’t deserve it, while I did. I thought I had gotten a raw deal in life. I went around with the attitude, "Poor me. I’ve worked so hard, and look what I’ve got to show for it." Anything to
justify a drink.
I had no intention of changing because I didn’t believe the problem was me. I thought I was doing all right, and I would change when life gave me something to change for. Basically, I was to the very center of me a selfish, self-centered person–Satan-operated. My outlook on life was again totally self-focused. I was only concerned about how things going on around me were affecting me. I didn’t think about the kids or my wife. I guess I thought that children raised them-selves–they just somehow absorbed all they were supposed to know from school or wherever. It took me thirty days of sobriety to find out I had been married eighteen years and had four children.
All of this is as Jesus described in Ephesians 2:2-3: "…you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest."
I did "follow the course of this world," and I was a "son of disobedience." The hard part was believing that this would ever change. I had made myself many promises that "I would never do that again" after some fool stunt I had done while drinking. And within a few weeks, I would be drinking again and feeling worse and worse about myself. This verse helped me to understand why I couldn’t stop drinking on my own. It was because I was "by nature [a child] of wrath." I couldn’t change my behavior any more than I could change being born a man or being six feet tall. As Jesus taught in Matthew 6:27, "Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit to his stature?" Well, for me it was how could I change my nature by trying harder? It was impossible, since I am powerless.
I believe this promise for a change in my "attitude and outlook on life" is the same truth that Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:17: "Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new." When I accepted Christ as my personal Savior, I became a new man. But my physical body didn’t change, my inner spirit did. My inner spirit was no longer self-forself–Satan, but now is self-for-others–Christ. "I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me" (Galatians 2:20).
All through the Big Book it is stressed that a life lived for others is the only way to maintain my sobriety. This is the complete change of "attitude and outlook on life" that is the outwaitl manifestation of the inner change of spirit-operators. So if I am not living for others, then my believing has gotten off, and I will drink again because Satan is back in the saddle and I cannot control him. He tells me what to do.
My attitude is now completely changed about my children and my desire to help other alcoholics. I do not resent going to meetings–they are opportunities for me. I love the time I now have with my children, and am grateful for the second chance to make a difference in their lives before it is too late. I thank God for these wonderful opportunities to have the life I really wanted, although it took this "change of attitude and outlook" to accomplish it.
Anonymity is a fundamental tradition in AA.
More Articles from The Intercessor, Vol 12 No 1
- Editor’s Note
- Moments with Meryl
- Excerpt from The Intercession of Rees Howells
- Weekend in New York 1995
- The Letter to the Romans
- The Mailbox
- God’s Promises
- A Look at a Book
- Questions & Answers
- The Walk Through The Bible
- God’s Wonderful Plan
- New Light on the Twelve Steps
- Excerpt from After C.T. Studd
- Tape Talk
- Words to Live By