The Promises Are Coming True
I had always loved The Promises in the Big Book. They had struck a chord each time we read them aloud at a meeting. Particular phrases had rung out throughout my journey into recovery. I had found them simply delightful.
It wasn’t until I was knee-deep in my first ninth step amends process that I realized The Promises are directly connected to the ninth step. It hit me just as my amends process challenged me down to my core—my ego screamed and told me to run for the door; old wounds ripped open as I owned my now undeniable part in my troubled patterns. I apologized to people for whom I had harbored resentment for years and thoroughly grasped the haunting, yet freeing, nature of humility, but it wasn’t easy. All my dirt stirred. My urge to quit was strong.
Then some of my favorite words from the promises echoed in my mind and I heard them differently, “If we are painstaking at this stage of our development, we will be amazed before we are halfway through.” Sure enough, I was just about halfway through my ninth step at that very moment, when the promises morphed from a lilting piece of literature that tickled me each time I read it, to a hardcore manifesto that actually had the power to save me. I was being promised all this glory—if I remained painstaking in seeing this painful process through, and so I did.
When I finished my imperfect, yet progressive, ninth step, I felt distinctly as though I was standing in a light-filled, spacious clearing, drenched in grace.
At the top of my ninth step, my sponsor had given me an assignment to type up the dictionary definition to just about every word in The Promises. Now she gave me one last assignment before turning to the tenth step: I was to rewrite The Promises, utilizing definitions of the words I had looked up. I did so, and by the time I had finished digging as deeply as I could into my interpretation of the meaning of these promises ... I felt, and still feel, they are, indeed, working through God, through me, and coming to pass.
I am filled with awe, wonder and gratitude for and by the unfolding of the 12 Steps and ... how it works.
The Ninth Step Promises
(Big Book pp. 83-84)
“If we are painstaking at this stage of our development we will be amazed before we are halfway through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenityand we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook on life will change, fear of people and economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations that used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves. Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us—sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them.”
The Promises – Rewritten (with definitions)
If we employ great care and thoroughness at this distinct period of our process of change, growth and advancement, we will be greatly surprised, if not astonished, before we are halfway through.
Promise 1:We are going to gain the power to act, speak or think as we want, to our fullest authentic expression, without fear, hindrance, self-doubt, second-guessing or restraint. We are going to know contentment, pleasure, joy, satisfaction and cheerfulness.
Promise 2: We will not feel sad, sorry, remorseful, repentant or disappointed over that which is no longer in existence, time gone by, or any period before the moment of speaking, even and especially over a loss or a missed opportunity; nor will we wish to close off, block or create a barrier to an opening into time gone by, or any period before the moment of speaking. We will remain open.
Promises 3: We will mentally grasp, understand, fathom and make sense of a feeling of calm, untroubled, unhindered freedom from disturbance and discord.
Promise 4:We will know tranquility, mental clarity, stillness and quietude.
Promise 5:Without importance placed on the way in which we have, or the extent to which we have, gone toward a lower place or position along a graduated range of values, toward or onto the ground, we will discern, deduce mentally after reflection, the way in which our practical contact with observation of facts and knowledge of skill we have acquired over a period of time can bring advantage, profit and gain to people different or distinct from one already mentioned or known about—ourselves.
Promise 6:Inability to achieve an intended purpose of desired outcome (due to lack of skill or competence) and excessive, self-absorbed unhappiness over our own troubles will cease to be visible, cease to exist, cease to be in use.
Promise 7:We will cease to have or retain absorption in concern chiefly with our own personal profit or pleasure, that which lacks consideration for others, and objects that one cannot or does not wish to give a specific name to; we will obtain and secure a state of exciting curiosity and attentiveness and desire to know and learn about people in our same position, involved in our same activity, or otherwise associated.
Promise 8:Having concern for our own welfare and interests before those of others will slide out of our grasp to a distance far from us.
Promise 9:Our point of view about soul existence (between birth, death and onward) and our settled way of thinking or feeling about people and situations, which has habitually reflected in our behavior, will transform entirely and refreshingly.
Promise 10:Unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that human beings in general are dangerous, likely to cause pain or a threat; and uncertainty, anxiety, and a lack of confidence relating to matters of economics and justified in terms of profitability expressed by the future tense or projection of inevitable events, will go away, depart permanently from and for ourselves.
Promise 11:Instinctively, without having to consciously reason out, we will know how to manage and deal with states of affairs and sets of circumstances (in which we find ourselves) that used to totally bewilder and perplex us.
Promise 12:Quickly and unexpectedly we will become fully aware, as a clearly understood fact that God desirously causes to happen that which we could not fulfill personally.
“Are these declarations of particular, potential excellence expected to occur absurd or exceeding reason? We use our minds actively to form the connected opinions, ideas and beliefs that they are not. They are being happily, contentedly, pleasurably and serenely satisfied in and by our surrounding company—occasionally rapidly, with little or no delay, occasionally at a slow speed. At all times, on all occasions, throughout a long period of the past, they happen, appear, become factually present— if we actively involve mental and physical effort to achieve this purpose of result.