The First Step

You’d think the first step in AA would be, “We put down the drink.” But it isn’t; it is a simple descriptive statement:

We admitted we were powerless over alcohol and our lives had become unmanageable.

We can’t put the drink down until we agree that the drink in our hand is not solving anything.

I took it quickly in AlAnon, anxious to get on with a program of recovery, and away from unattractive adjectives – powerless and unmanageable. Although it had been helpful in AlAnon to admit, I was powerless to control another person, it took awhile to apply this principle to my life. I was unwilling for a long time to describe my life as unmanageable.

Being around the program, I had spent way too much time comparing myself to how bad I thought things needed to be before unmanageable would be a proper description of my life. I wasn’t incarcerated, had not been hospitalized, was not broke, and could stop drinking anytime I wanted to – but, as I tried sprinting through the steps in AlAnon, I had to admit, I didn’t want to stop.

Now, what part of that realization seemed like a good idea?

So, I went back to the beginning. I saw meanings in powerless and unmanageable I had overlooked —the strength of my will to keep using what contributed to some really dumb and dangerous decisions was wrecking me. As other AA’s have said, it wasn’t a lack of willpower that messed us up – it was an over abundance of our will!

Becoming willing to be willing is a wise imperative if we would have wills that preserve our sanity and health.

  • Taking the first step means pausing long enough to let all the words’ meaning sink in and helps me make a wise assessment of the three-dimensional illness with which I live.
  • Taking the first step meant not bounding over it – too eager to move on, away from the rut my drinking kept me in.
  • Taking the first step meant looking at where I was, so that I might understand the next steps, and not tripslip.

I didn’t take the first step successfully until I accepted Christ. Slowly taking the first step, I quit pretending I could handle alcohol. I quit the poor me shtick in which I blamed everybody and everything for my messes.

God gave me sponsors who followed Christ, knew the Bible, had long-term sobriety, and who encouraged me to let go of alcohol, and put down the baggage all my poor life choices had packed, and leave it all at the Cross. There, I saw clearly, what unmanageable meant. (Isaiah 53)

Taking the first step is safe way to get out of bed each morning, too.


Love in Christ,

Sober & Grateful


Grace, Grief and Gratitude

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The First Step