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One of the co-founders of Alcoholics Anonymous was “Dr. Bob,” who had a desk plaque that defined humility as:

…Perpetual quietness of heart. It is to have no trouble. It is never to be fretted or vexed, irritable or sore; to wonder at nothing that is done to me, to feel nothing done against me. It is to be at rest when nobody praises me, and when I am blamed or despised, it is to have a blessed home in myself where I can go in and shut the door and kneel to my Higher Power in secret and be at peace, as in a deep sea of calmness, when all around and about is seeming trouble.

As in a deep sea of calmness describes what I felt in 2001 when I finally submitted to a Fifth Step. My confession spanned portions of two days, and I made it to Rev. Ron, my pastor at Faith Lutheran Church. Those six or seven hours in his office represented my first-ever religious confession, although I did so by following every instruction in AA literature. What I admitted included secrets that I had not revealed during three years of therapy, first with a psychologist, then an analyst, and then addiction counselors.

The Fifth Step is a profound equalizer. It is “the answer,” Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions affirms, describing it as “the beginning of true kinship with man and God.”

Since 2001, several men in treatment at homeless shelters or working in step-study groups have asked me to witness their private, Fifth Step confessions to God (That’s a more accurate, lay-person’s description of how confession works). And when I do that, what I witness often parallels this sum-up, aptly penned in Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions:

As the pain subsides, a healing tranquility takes its place. When humility and serenity are so combined, something else of great moment is apt to occur. Many an AA, once agnostic or atheistic, tells us that it was during this stage of Step Five that he first actually felt the presence of God.

Copyright © 2009 by Randall E. Greene

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One Comment

  1. Great, Randall:
    Bill W also advises that after doing a Step 5 one should seek out a place of serenity and meditate on what has happened, how one feels and what one is thinking.
    It was during that recess that peace finally arrived for me.
    Thanks, Mate.


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