Back in step eight (12&12) it describes the AA journey as a “Moving and fascinating adventure.” In step nine we start the process of making amends, and by then we realize that the promises are already starting to materialize. It would have been easy to rest on my laurels at that time but I have been attending weekly step study meetings since I first got sober in 1969 and I couldn’t get away from the sage advice that kept repeating itself over and over.
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In step ten it says “Our first objective will be the development of self-restraint. This carries a top priority rating.” Some examples I read are as follows: Restraint of tongue and pen, drop the word “blame” from our speech and thought (step 4) Quick- temper criticism, Sulking and silent scorn etc. etc. etc. These are just a few, but you get the picture.
With these things revisited, three or four times a year, as we cycle through the steps, it kept acting like a rock tumbler and slowly but surely I adopted new habits which helped me to rein in many of the old behaviors that got between me and my peers. I never stop learning these new ideas.
Another one of the things that caught my attention in step ten was the quote “Pain is the touchstone of all spiritual progress” then it finishes off the paragraph with, “How heartily we AA’s can agree with him, for we know that the pain of drinking had to come before sobriety, and emotional turmoil before serenity.” Can this mean that we can have no spiritual progress without suffering pain?
It didn’t seem to make sense to me so I looked up the word “TOUCHSTONE” in the dictionary and discovered that a TOUCHSTONE was a mineral that assayers used to test the purity of gold. Prior to that, I thought that it was synonymous with stepping stone. This definition seems to measure how spiritual we are when the going gets rough. Do we revert back to our old habits, or do we stick to the principles we have learned in the program?
The next quote I kept seeing, that piqued my curiosity, was on page 90, 12&12, “It is a spiritual axiom that every time we are disturbed, no matter what the cause, there is something wrong with us“. The “no matter what the cause” part seemed to throw me a curve ball. I questioned the idea that, if a mother saw her child running into traffic and she wasn’t disturbed, I would think that there must be something wrong with her.
I don’t think anyone could argue that point so I believe that the spiritual axiom quote relates to the way we interface with other people and I find it to be a tremendous template to improving our relations with them. In it we question what drives us when we start to get a little out of sorts and we can apply the pre-mentioned self restraint.
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As in all the steps as, I continue to attend those weekly step study meetings these things get clearer each time I go through them and most of my issues are well under control as long as I don’t assume that I can let down my guard, as my EGO is always ready to fill in the empty spaces in my program. The maintenance part of the tenth step is easy for me these days. I just get up in the morning and say, “God, please help me to go through this day without doing anything I regret.”
I’m not sure that He hears me, but I know that I HEAR ME and it puts me into the best possible attitude I can have for that day. It usually works. I let the rock tumbler keep me on my toes, and I hope that I always pass the assayer’s test.