The Life Challenge
Surrendering to Grace & Mercy

Surrendering to Grace & Mercy


A few wise old-timers I know practice a path of sobriety called Spiritual Sobriety. They say that two concepts intrinsic to walking this path are grace and mercy. Grace and mercy are not the same thing although they both come from a Power Greater than Ourselves. Grace is what we receive that we don’t deserve ( unconditional love, another chance, blessings, opportunities) while mercy is we don’t get what we do deserve ( ass-whoopin’s, serious and sometimes deadly consequences). We receive the one (grace) and are spared the consequences from the other (mercy) and that is why we ought to try to remain in a state of perpetual gratitude, focusing on what we have been given, instead of what we haven’t. We don’t get the karma that we truly deserve from treating people like crap in years of active alcoholism and drug addiction (mercy) and then are miraculously given in a short amount of time what we could not earn in a million years (grace).

Grace can be seen as the 9th step promises coming true, doors of opportunity swinging wide open instead of slamming shut, character assets being magnified and character defects slipping away that used to cripple us.
Mercy can be defined as the ability to pardon or forgive actions of someone that are seen as unforgivable by others on a subject who deserves swift justice, divine retribution or my old personal favorite; cold, hard revenge. Mercy is going easy on someone, or the compassionate treatment of someone that does not deserve such treatment. In other words, mercy is when we know, without a doubt, a severe, well-earned ass-kicking is coming our way, and we don’t get it.

Grace and mercy will continue to flow in and out of our lives and be a constant presence, as long as we don’t forget to practice the last three steps: 10, 11 & 12. Often called the maintenance steps, they can really transform us from the inside out, and rocket us into the 4th dimension the Big Book talks about. I was told recently by an old timer that the AA magazine, the Grapevine, did a survey of their readers in 2010. They asked what step do you practice the least? The winner, at 80%, was the 11th step. How sad. So many of us are unwilling to practice this crucial part of spiritual sobriety, when it can not only be a powerful part of our program, it can literally be a guarantee against relapse if we focus on daily spiritual maintenance, and a connection to our higher power.

So, do yourself a solid and try this out: every morning, for at least a week, practice the 11th step. Try to pray, which is just talking to God, and try to meditate, which is just listening to God. During the day, try to focus on the 12th step. Be of service to someone. Practice the spiritual principles as much as you can. Be mindful. At night, do a 10th step before you go to bed. Do some inventory. Assets vs. liabilities. Check it out. Watch what happens. You’ll see. My guess is you see some grace and mercy start popping up again. It’s not by coincidence, it’s by design. We just forget sometimes, and that’s okay. Practice, not perfection; attraction, not promotion. It works, it really does.

Peace & Love.

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