Why I Love the Eleventh Step

The Eleventh Step: We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out.

I love the eleventh step. I actually love all the steps as originally stated in AA and adapted to other 12-step programs. I love them for their subtlety, complexity and simplicity. I love them because they work. I encourage many of my patients, those with addiction/alcoholism problems and those without obvious addictive behavior, to go to 12-step programs. Some listen to my suggestion; many don’t. Those that do and end up really working the program invariably benefit.

As a Yoruba Priest, it’s probably no surprise that the Eleventh Step would be one of my favorites because it involves contact with God. However, my admiration goes deeper than that.

I love the Eleventh Step because it expresses the essence of faith. If I were to demonstrate my feelings about it graphically, the Eleventh Step would look like this:

We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying ONLY for KNOWLEDGE of God’s will for us and the POWER to carry that out.

That’s right! That’s what we ask for. Not for what we think we want or don’t want; not for anything other than to know God’s will and once we know it, the ability, tools and support to carry that out. In other words, the step is saying that the only information we really need in life is knowledge of God’s will and what it takes to carry out God’s will. If we have that connection to the God of our understanding, we can do, be and become anything because it will happen with Divine blessings and support. All the rest of it is secondary.

I can attest personally to the truth of the wisdom of the Eleventh Step. Whenever I follow what the Divinities in my faith prescribe for me, it works out. Not that I don’t have to do any work of my own. I often have to do a lot of work. But knowing I am on a divinely lead path helps me work hard. On the other hand, whenever I don’t or think I don’t have to ask, things either don’t work out or are fraught with difficulty and disappointment.

Having that kind of faith can be daunting to most people. It was for me for many years. I appreciate that it is especially difficult in these times of confusion and suffering. But to me, it seems necessary. For those skeptics in the audience, I challenge you to try it. If it doesn’t work for you, you’ve lost nothing. But if it does, you have opened the door to a lifetime of spiritual guidance and support. In some ways, life becomes less of a struggle. I’m not saying it will become easy but you will be traveling with the tides and flow and not against them.

If you pray, next time try to include the guidance of the Eleventh Step in your prayers. And if you don’t pray, why not see what happens if you do? Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

© Copyright 2010 by Kalila Borghini, LCSW, therapist in New York City, New York. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Becky

    Becky

    November 10th, 2010 at 5:38 PM

    Not everybody is comfortable with using the word God. Personally I prefer to think of a Higher Power than call the supreme being God. There are just too many that use God’s name for war and violence that the name doesn’t sit well with me. I know I get guidance from above. I simply don’t want to label its source.

  • lisa o

    lisa o

    November 10th, 2010 at 7:23 PM

    Thank you for that- very uplifting.

  • cheryl

    cheryl

    November 11th, 2010 at 5:38 AM

    This is a very positive step. It’s the previous ten that get you to this one that are so hard to accept and live day to day!

  • donna

    donna

    November 11th, 2010 at 6:16 AM

    its invaluably great when you are in a difficult situation,have nowhere to go but have this belief that there is a higher power who will help you if you pray to Him.although some people do not believe in it,it definitely is helpful for me.

  • sCoTt

    sCoTt

    November 11th, 2010 at 12:09 PM

    we are all destined for something.there is a power up there that has things planned for us so all we need to do is to seek his guidance and follow towards whatever has been decided for us and everything will be fine.

  • Sabrina

    Sabrina

    November 11th, 2010 at 4:33 PM

    Wow. You learn something new every day. I didn’t know that the famous AA twelve steps program had any religious slant to it. So where does the alcoholic go for support if they are an atheist? Are they unwelcome in the AA?

  • leeanne

    leeanne

    November 11th, 2010 at 11:32 PM

    God will never give you more than you can handle. I like to think about that when I’m troubled. I just wish I had as much faith in me as He does!:) Thank you for your post, Kalila.

  • Stephanie

    Stephanie

    November 12th, 2010 at 10:19 AM

    “In other words, the step is saying that the only information we really need in life is knowledge of God’s will and what it takes to carry out God’s will.”

    I’m confused. Why did God bother to give me free will then if he only wants me to carry out His will? That makes free will superfluous in our lives. So I can have free will as long as what I do equate to doing what He wants me to? I don’t see where the freedom is in that.

  • Fay

    Fay

    November 12th, 2010 at 12:04 PM

    I liked your article, Kalila. Your thinking resonates with me and I’d like to know more about Yoruba. Can you point me to somewhere online that would be a good place to start reading please?

  • Kalila Borghini

    Kalila Borghini

    November 12th, 2010 at 7:35 PM

    Just to clarify some misconceptions. AA is NOT a religious program, it’s a spiritual program. The exact wording of the step goes use the word God but many people in AA who are resistant to the word God substitute Higher Power. One’s higher power can be anything. I have heard stories from former patients including one who’s dog was his higher power (at least initially). In terms of free will, we possess the free will to for example listen to information we receive or not; we possess the free will in terms of how we carry out what is recommended to us; we are given the opportunity to make choices all the time. In my opinion God gives us the rough outline, the larger picture; we fill in the rest through our actions and choices. For more information on the Yoruba faith, start on-line with a few sites. There are also lots of books about the faith. Good luck with your exploration.

  • Sheena

    Sheena

    November 16th, 2010 at 11:30 AM

    Kalila, I’m also curious, specifically about how much time you spend in meditation and prayer in your religion and when you feel is best to do so. Does it have to be a daily practice? I’m fairly undisciplined with my time. Okay, very… not fairly. :)

  • Olivia

    Olivia

    November 16th, 2010 at 1:58 PM

    Kalila, thank you for your inspirational post and thank you also very much for the clarifications you made there in the comments. That was a great help.

  • Kalila Borghini

    Kalila Borghini

    November 16th, 2010 at 2:32 PM

    Hi Sheena. I confess to a certain lack of discipline myself. I prefer to call it spontaneity :) I pray to the Orishas and the ancestors constantly but not on any kind of regular schedule. When I am in nature, I talk to them. For example, when I am by a river, I acknowledge Oshun (the Orisha who is represented in nature by the river). I might say a prayer to the ancestors as I walk in the woods that were once inhabited by Native Americans. You have to fine what works for you. Sometimes I’m more prayerful and meditative than others. In the Yoruba faith we have songs for each Orisha and the ancestors and often I’ll sing to them which is another form of prayer. Try not to get hung up on the requirements but rather on the feelings that come from within to connect with the divine. Hope this helps.

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