Step One: Pieces on the Ground


Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.

Change begins with an admission of the fact that we are powerless to change ourselves. Nothing truly positive can happen in our lives until we admit our powerlessness to produce it. There is no solution in this step, just a reorienting of ones approach to life, and it usually begins with something cataclysmic — something big enough to get our attention. (After that, though, it becomes a part of us — but that will come later.)

This step is a celebration of weakness and failure. It is very rarely realized and very much against our natural bent. This is why we need a whole step to get it down, because it is so hard to do.

This is also something we can’t just understand conceptually, we have to experience it in some way. We have to fail, or lose, or fall, or sin, or be humiliated in some real way.

I have a song with the chorus:

All fall down, pieces on the ground

All fall down, pieces on the ground

That’s it. That’s all. We don’t go anywhere next. It’s a celebration. It’s a whole step. It’s the only way our lives can be reoriented properly to ourselves, to others, and mostly, to God. You can’t manufacture any of this; you can only realize it when it is happening and embrace it for what it is: your downfall. It’s a joyous occasion because God’s hand is all over it.

Some call it brokenness. Many think it’s the end when it’s just the beginning.

Paul puts it this way: “Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves…” (2 Corinthians 3:5). Nothing from us. God does not need our good works. He does not need our efforts on His behalf. Our religion is useless. As Jesus once said, “You cannot make one hair on your head white or black.”

For further thought and/or discussion:

Why do you think this is so hard to embrace?

Is there any failure, loss or sin in your life you can cerebrate?

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5 Responses to Step One: Pieces on the Ground

  1. Cerebrate?
    Interesting misspelling if the last word was intended to be “celebrate.”
    Otherwise, cerebrate would apply, too, as it means “To use ones mind: to think”.
    Both cerebrate and celebrate would be appropriate in this instance.

  2. Sandie says:

    Being broken goes against our nature – both sides of it – our sin nature and the part of us that carries “the image of God. Plus we live in a society that is success-driven; failure is something to be ashamed of.
    Some of the times I was most broken were when I had to apologize to the teens I worked with, or even my own kids.Many times I came down too hard on them because of something someone else had done…or God forbid, they defied my authority.
    In the end though, those apologies gained me a stronger foothold in their hearts and lives; such that now, many years later they are still thankful and respectful of me and what I tried to do for them. It’s a hard, humiliating thing though, to have to apologize to a kid.
    I had to let God break my heart specifically for the audiences we ministered to when we had our band. Then He could truly speak through my heart to touch theirs. It allowed me to decide on the songs, and the order in which they were done…God never disappointed me – there was always at least one that was touched, and I’m sure there were more that just went quietly home.
    There were times we performed in a venue that could have held dozens, if not hundreds, only to walk on stage to see only ten or twenty. It was only through God’s grace that we (I) swallowed pride and gave them the performance we had prepared for a full house.
    God is good!

  3. John A Fagliano says:

    Why do you think this is so hard to embrace? For the World: Helplessness can be very frightening if you don’t know it’s the first step and God is involved in the rest. For some it can lead to suicide instead of a life changing prayer. According to the world not having control is a sign of weakness and the weak don’t survive.

    Why do you think this is so hard to embrace? For Christians: We should know better and be more willing to present ourselves broken to God. The sad thing is that it’s frightening when you think you’re the only one who’s not getting it. Too many times Christians give testimonies of how wonderful everything is for them. Instead of being encouraging, this can actually discourage those who are struggling but keeping silent about it. This is why a 12 step style program for Christians is a good thing. When everyone’s honest we realized we ALL share the same struggles and the same need for God to make right what we can’t.

  4. TOM says:

    Being honest about my brokenness is difficult cuz I still want to look good. As good at least as everyone else. I may become discouraged cuz my insides don’t match other peoples outsides. Then comes the shame. I did not only make a mistake- I am a mistake. Broken- you bet. Some call it a fractured personality. The paradox of recovery is that once I accept myself just as I am then I can change. Once a hopeless dope fiend now a dopeless hope fiend.

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