We admitted we were powerless over our addictions and compulsive behaviors, that our lives had become unmanageable.
Romans 7:18 AMP
For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh [my human nature, my worldliness – my sinful capacity]. For the willingness [to do good] is present in me, but the doing of good is not.
The first of the Twelve Steps is, bluntly, all about admitting my inability to control myself. The Bible teaches that this is because something is missing. Some special element is not yet in me, and without this very important piece, I am powerless to choose any other way but my selfish way. It’s as if I remain a child; immature, foot-stomping, breath-holding, and stubborn. I want what I want when I want it – whatever “it” happens to be in any given moment.
One of the true indications of maturity is displaying the understanding of delayed gratification: deciding against the single treat now, in favor of the double-treat later. I don’t see a lot of this in the world today; should I be surprised when it is missing in my own life? This is wisdom that should be gained simply by aging, but it escaped me, particularly in regard to a few specific “treats”.
I found a liking for them a long time ago. At first, they just felt good, pleasantly satisfying me either physically or emotionally (or both). But gradually, oh so gradually, these things began to have a hold on me by coming up short, leaving me wanting more of them, sooner. I had to have them, even when it became clear that my best interests were not being served, and that I was literally being harmed. What’s worse, those around me were being negatively affected, too. The “good feeling” slowly faded into a mirage, not reality. My desires were unfulfillable. But by then, I simply could not do anything differently, no matter how much I wanted to. I “couldn’t help myself” with my addictions and compulsive behaviors. But I was finally ready for Step One. It took me a long time to get there.
I remember reading about the “cycle” of change: how it starts with complete denial that there’s a problem, with a slow “dawning” that something about me, not the world could be improved, followed eventually by the desperate willingness to actually try something different, even though it was terrifying. Then there are many, many failed attempts, no matter how determined the starting motivation would be. Even a near-death experience was not enough. Because something was missing.
But, at that point, I became ready for Step Two, the epiphany of meeting something – someone – greater.
To be continued…