I used to think that Step 10 had the be THE. LEAST. SEXY. of all the 12 Steps. First of all, there was no drama in it. Not like Steps 4, 5, or 9.
Second, it assured us that even after we had completed an inventory and made amends we would continue to be wrong.
The thought that I would continue to be wrong was actually quite scary for me because in my family of origin, and even in many relationships in my adulthood, being wrong made me a target for emotional abuse.
That meant that I had to establish a new relationship with my humanity, and, more importantly, with this step.
The truth is, working this step has allowed me to embrace my humanity even more than Steps 4-9.
The fact is, I now look at this step as the very definition of perfection. If I address my wrongs in a timely manner, then I’m doing the absolute best that I can do. It doesn’t get better than that. It really doesn’t.
But wait, there’s more!
I’ve come to discover that this step is, in many ways, a sleeper step. There’s so much more to it than meets the eye.
I came to this realization when I was volunteered to speak on this step. For the reasons stated above, I had never actually chosen to talk on this step.
As I let the thought of sharing on this step simmer in my mind, a Native American AA speaker by the name of Don C. came to mind.
Don C. talked about how in his Native American spiritual practices, they put the Steps in a circle. The idea of putting the Steps in a circle made me think about my own spiritual work which I do around the phases of the moon.
So, I thought, if the steps are in a circle and I think of their positioning as representing the phases of the moon, then Step 10 would represent a quarter moon.
Now, spiritually, quarter moons represent moments of instability, so I asked myself if being at Step 10 in our Step work could also represent a moment o instability.
After thinking about it, my conclusion was “Oh my flipping God, YES!”
As one of the maintenance Steps, one of the messages of Step 10 is to keep doing what we’ve been doing.
But here’s where things can get quite unstable.
If we have earnestly completed the previous 9 Steps, we are going to be feeling an incredible amount of freedom. I mean, the promises in the Big Book show up in the middle of Step 9 for a reason. Doing the inventory and completing our amends bring about incredible blessings to those who do the work.
However, the reason Step 10 represents a moment of instability is that, because of the freedom, peace and all kinds of other good feelings that come from completing amends, much of the pain that had motivated us to take the previous 9 Steps will have been removed.
This totally unglamorous and unsexy step says to keep doing the work we’ve been doing anyway.
And it’s incredibly important that we do.
At this point, we have put our lives in the hands of the God of our understanding. And if we’re “even halfway through” our amends, we’ve gained a tremendous amount of spiritual momentum with God at the wheel.
So, what happens to any vehicle going at a respectable speed if someone yanks the wheel away?
It spins out of control.
Which means that Step 10 contains a warning. We need to keep the God of our understanding at the wheel of our lives by continuing to do the things that had already brought us so much healing.
Freedom from pain, guilt, and shame does not mean putting ourselves back in charge.
But Step 10 also contains a promise.
Each time one of my meetings discusses Step 12, I’m always so heartened by the fact that even people who have only completed Step 1 can nevertheless speak of spiritual awakenings happening in their lives.
Without diminishing the power and importance of those early spiritual awakenings by any means, I think it is important nevertheless to acknowledge that the Steps do not promise a spiritual awakening until Step 12.
To me, the fact that the Steps do not speak of a spiritual awakening until the twelfth Step means the specific spiritual awakening referred in Step 12 is of an entirely different order than anything we will have experienced before that Step.
And so I believe the ultimate importance and the final message of Step 10 is this: Don’t give up before that miracle happens.
Now I’d like to hear from you: what blessings have you experienced working this Step? Are there other “sleeper” messages that you have discovered in this step?
Share your experience, strength, and hope in the comments. I read every one.
P.S. If you need help with your daily inventory practice, I’ve created a new and improved Daily Inventory Journal with Coaching Exercises to support you in this incredibly important work. Check it out HERE.