Reap the Rewards of the Fifth Step

BY: T. R. | ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA

It’s practical and effective tool of the program

I AM PRESENTLY twenty-five years old and have enjoyed a little over three years of reasonably contented sobriety. In the past, I was never contented. In fact, I was not even certain why I was staying sober. I paid a lot of lip service to the benefits of sobriety then, but I didn’t feel the feelings as I do now. I assumed things would rub off on me. Some did, but spirituality didn’t. For me, this takes some doing–work.

I hadn’t been drinking or ingesting anything that was mood-altering. I read “How It Works” in the Big Book, went to meetings, did some outside speaking, attended other AA functions, made the effort to carry the message and practice these principles in all my affairs, and had taken one Fifth Step. So how come no “reasonable contentment”?

Fortunately, insight came from my Higher Power through other human beings. My AA friends were telling me that they could see something lacking in me. I was mistaking a lot of elated feelings for the deep, solid feelings of spirituality.

Thank God for one friend who had the love courage to share with me. His insight was spelled out plain and simple: “It’s time to move into action. Get busy preparing for a Fifth Step, or you’ll end up drunk!”

My initial reaction was defensiveness. I thought, “Mind your own sobriety; take your own inventory!” My thinking was that of a practicing alcoholic–not checking anything out, impulsive, full of denial. Did I need a Fifth Step?

Now I know there were some things I omitted from my first Fifth Step. At the time, I was as honest as I possibly could have been. However, I had not been sober too long, and my mind was preoccupied with other things. I was afraid even to look at some of the incidents and feelings from the past, much less talk about them. I wanted to hang on to some of my phoniness and inadequacies. I didn’t understand what this key to a new life was that people were talking about. I did it for the sake of doing it, so I could say, “I took the Fifth Step.”

If nothing else, this first Fifth Step was my introduction to an effective, practical working tool that would help me to ventilate, dump, take a look at the things that needed to be put on the table. All I had to do was use it.

I had grown complacent, and a lot of garbage had collected. I was losing sight of my character assets.

Thank God for that second Fifth Step. It gave me the fulfillment and awareness that I needed. The clergyman I took it with helped me to see that I was becoming more perfectionist as time passed.

Within the first two years of my sobriety, I took five Fifth Steps! When I began getting sober, if someone had told me this was what it would take, I would have said, “Go fly a kite.” With each attempt, I was able to focus on something that had been a stumbling block. The third one spelled out impatience; the fourth, resentments; the fifth, forgiveness.

I had been planning on only one, but who am I to manage my life? There has always been a “flag” or signal to let me know when it’s time for this Step. Learning to read those flags and signals is the important thing. Most often, it has come through other people. I think if it had been up to me, I wouldn’t have taken any of my Fifth Steps.

The Big Book tells us that faith without works is dead. Here, in the action of Step Five, we can perform our verbal works. Like all other Steps, this Step is full of wisdom and knowledge that can be used as effective tools toward an abundant sobriety. We repeatedly work all the other Steps. This Step isn’t worked as often, but it is worked vigorously.

I do make an effort to admit it when I’m wrong, but I am not always aware of my attitudes on a daily basis. What results from this is self-deception. Usually, by the time we get to a Fifth Step, we’ve let some things build up into a rationalization system. We can see this in a Fifth Step. We can reap spiritual rewards, take a look at our own life’s meaning, begin to experience deeper meaning in fellowship and in awareness of our Higher Power.

 

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“Reap the Rewards of the Fifth Step”.  https://www.aagrapevine.org/magazine/1978/may/reap-rewards-fifth-step. 03 May 2021