Home Alcoholics Anonymous John D. – AA Speaker – “Progress, not perfection in AA!”

John D. – AA Speaker – “Progress, not perfection in AA!”


One of the Alcoholics Anonymous slogans that is often told is that progress is the goal, not perfection. This is an incredible story by a great AA speaker who shares how he found faith when he placed his trust in something other than himself.

Finding faith in the Third Step

I can’t get drunk again because the thing is it tells me very clearly in this book that my hope is the growth and maintenance of a spiritual way of life. It tells me that very clearly and talks about that the need for a spiritual experience to recover. But I also need to keep having those spiritual experiences. Early on I heard about those “Big Book thumpers” and I was kind of scared of those guys, because they were always seemed to be in the corner with the new guy and their guys always seemed to be in to doing service work and doing stuff; they were busy they were busy all the time. But I did notice something, they didn’t seem to drink. They didn’t seem to be raising their hands after a relapse. I did notice that. So I began to work those steps like my life depended on it, and it did. I began to understand something about insanity. When I was in the homeless shelter, there was a guy who used to take three steps forward on the sidewalk and he’d mutter some incantation. Then he took three more steps, and he turned all the way to the left and he’d mutter some incantation again. One day after I’d had enough ripple and I was also drinking mouthwash at that point, because it was pretty easy to steal mouthwash, and I looked at him and said, “Why do you do that? He then looked at me like I was crazy and said, “I’m keeping the world from spinning off its axis.” Well, later when I was working the steps, I thought about that guy and I realized, every time he did that, the world never did off its axis. His solution worked. For me, every time I took a drink, my world spun off its axis. Who was crazier, him or me? The truth is that I don’t know.

What I do know is that I recognize the insanity. I had to learn, and I had to find a power greater than myself that could relieve me of that. I absolutely had to find a power. But really I just had to be willing to believe that there was one. I had a little spiritual experience which kind of did that for me. At this point I was still in the Salvation Army I was doing the stuff that I’m doing now, staying focused on the program of Alcoholics Anonymous. There was this guy named Greg and he was really working hard with me. He was picking me up every Thursday and we’re doing the deal. When we got to the third step I was pretty apprehensive. We read it over and we were beginning to understand the selfishness and self-centeredness; the root of the problem. I began to look at myself and I began to recognize my stuff. I began to recognize how I am that actor and parts of the book that really amazed me. One part that sticks out to me today, and has been a big part of my life for the last few years, it is this idea that I am often under the delusion that I can rest satisfaction and happiness in this world if I only manage well. Anybody else ever suffer from that delusion?

When we got right down to it, I realized I had to get rid of all that stuff and I had to start recognizing that I needed to turn my will and my life over to the power I discovered was there.  I got down on my knees with Greg and we said the third step prayer. I turned my will and my life over to this power. Something happened at that moment, and I don’t know what it was, but something happened and something changed. It is hard to describe but there was this something that the Bible talks about very clearly, and the Big Book talks about the idea of a psychic change. It was a change in my mind, a change in my thinking, and a change in my faith. I began moving my feet and taking action with this new found hope that was what I was taught early on is. Move your feet, do the work; action. This is a program of action.


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