I participate in Al-Anon, a twelve step program for people who have friends or relatives who are addicts/alcoholics. The 12 Steps are really a wonderful way of living in harmony with God’s will. I have learned more about faith and surrender from this group (and also AA) than I learn in church. I believe that Mormon meetings focus way too much on all we must do to save ourselves and not enough on “thy will be done.” We then become insecure, anxious human doings whose chief faith is in ourselves. Ultimately and utterly self-defeating.

These are the steps:
1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.

2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out

12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

I have “worked” the steps several times, sending out maybe 100 letters of amend over time. I feel very good about that, apologizing to my sisters’ foster parents truly mended relationships and soothed hearts. I know because they said so.

Every one of these steps is in harmony with gospel principles. The “works” we should emphasize are found here, repentance, restitution, faith in God. They also leave plenty of room for personal freedom and choice in how we implement them.

One thing that happens rather frequently to me is that I find myself driven back to the very first step. That is when I go to my knees and acknowledge that I cannot fix my problems. And I ask Him to do it. It’s a rather magical process, because He does fix it. It’s kind of sad how I exhaust all other options before I do this, however, forgetting the help that’s right in front of me. CS Lewis speaks a lot of surrender which I’ve found to be hard to comprehend. He said he struggled with comprehending it also until finally he “got it.” I haven’t gotten it yet, but I’m praying to get it.

Stephen Covey, in his book, “Spiritual Roots of Human Relations” talks about the importance of a spiritually rich inner life. I think the steps are one way to achieve that. They encourage the right attitude as opposed to be-attitudes.

Also, I found this wonderful talk when looking for a message to take visiting teaching. Elder Lynn G. Robbins addressed the subject in his April 2011 conference talk “What Manner of Men Ought Ye to Be?” Think about these profundities: Do without be–hypocrisy–portrays a false image to others, while be without do portrays a false image to oneself. ”

“The Savior chastised the scribes and Pharisees for their hypocrisy: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe”—-something they did—“of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weighter matters of the law, judgment, mercy and faith.” (Matthew 23:23. Or in other words, they failed to be what they should have been.

“While He recognized the importance of do, the Savior identified the importance of being as a “weightier matter.” The greater importance of being is illustrated in the following examples: Entering the waters of baptism is something we do. The be that must precede it is faith in Jesus Christ and a mighty change of heart . . .”

“Many of us create to do lists remind us of things we want to accomplish. But people rarely have to be lists. Why? To do’s are activities or events that can be checked off the list when done. To be, however, is never done. . .”I like what he said here: “Never let failure progress from an action to an identity.” He said in regard to parenting advise, but it certainly applies in all our relationships, especially the one with ourselves.

I’m going to keep my eye on this very wise man in the future and sit up straight and listen when he talks in the next conference. I recommend the 12 Steps to you as a way achieving that desired state of being that he discusses and thus becoming truly spiritually connected to our Father in Heaven.