The 9th Step Promises
When I first arrived in the rooms and when the promises were read, it was just as though people stopped reading in English and started reading in Chinese, or ancient Greek, or Basque, or Egyptian – some language that wasn’t even from western Europe. Then, when they were done with the promises, they switched back to English.
For those who aren’t sure of them, these are the 9th step promises (they are repeated also after this part of our meeting) (I am going to space them, not as they are printed, but as I “hear” them):
- If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way 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 serenity and 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 upon life will change.
- Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us.
- We will intuitively know how to handle situations which 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.
It wasn’t as though I couldn’t understand the individual words – it was that I did not comprehend – I did not in any way understand how the 9th step promises were possible or even relevant to my life.
But slowly, I began to hold on to “we will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace.”
That particular promise (or two promises, I suppose) began to be something for me to grasp, as a drowning person grabs onto anything in the water that is floating. I so wanted that lack of drama. It began to be the touchstone through which I could surrender to HP – because I began to *know* that HP would help me comprehend “serenity” and to know peace. Lack of internal drama. Quiet acceptance. Knowledge that I’m doing HP’s will – that I am choosing to live a truly sober life.
I began to realize that they don’t make sense trying to find them before doing the 9th step – they make total sense coming at the amends phase of the Program of AA. And the promise that “they will always materialize if we work for them” is also so true, I’ve found.
I think during the rather dramatic and chaotic years of my early sobriety, this promise was the one that kept me praying. Not for serenity (I prayed a lot more often for the willingness to be willing to be willing…) but to know that it would come, as long as I kept doing the next right thing. It may have been – now that I write this – one of my early understandings that HP works in HP’s time – and that it’s not part of Laura B.’s job description to try to get HP to do things faster.
Anyway, I would love to hear what you think of one or all of the 9th step promises. They aren’t, by any means, the only promises of AA, so if you’d rather write about a different AA promise, please do. And please, don’t worry about it if you haven’t gotten to Step 9, I’d still like to know about your experiences and thoughts around the promises.