Reflections on 12 Steps from the “Bones”


I hope you are taking advantage of our recent BlogTalkRadio podcasts related to the Twelve Steps that are listed and linked below. Our recent one with Robbie Goldman of Dry Bones Denver was particularly enlightening. Robbie works with homeless kids in downtown Denver and he talked about how when he first started thinking about going through the Twelve Steps he was thinking how good this would be for the kids they work with, many of whom are addicted to drugs and alcohol. But one of the first things he and his staff had to shed was that very kind of thinking that says the steps are for someone else. No, they’re for us. And so he and his staff went through the Twelve Steps before they ever went over them with their kids. And when they take the kids with them, they all go through the steps together. And Robbie says the number of times he’s been through the steps doesn’t matter. He learns something new about himself every time. Robbie is convinced that the Twelve Steps use a language of spirituality that the western church needs to wake up to — real words, not the lingo we talk.

As in: “Hi, I’m John and I’m an alcoholic.” Certainly you’ve heard this familiar greeting everyone uses in an AA meeting to introduce themselves if they wish to speak. And you probably know it is followed by a boisterous “Hi, John!” from everyone else in the room. Robbie pointed out that this simple practice is a means of removing shame from the room and turning people into people. Everyone doesn’t go “Hi, you alcoholic,” or “Hi alcoholic John.” It’s just “Hi John!” As soon as you say it, the label is dropped, because we’re not getting to know an alcoholic; we’re getting too know John. How important this is for all of us wherever we are in life. We need to drop the labels. We are people with names; we’re not adjectives. This goes for all labels we tend to put on people. The label drops when you find the person.

Not that it isn’t important to identify yourself as an alcoholic. At an AA meeting, that’s pretty obvious. Get it out on the table. We need to know where to start. For those of us who are not alcoholics, it would be important to identify ourselves as sinners, and specific ones at that, so we all know where to begin. Imagine what church would be like if every time someone spoke they started with something like, “Hi, I’m Bill and I’m a wife-beater.”

It’s actually the best place to start, and why AA works so well — you start at the bottom. You start where you struggle — where you need help the most.

For more about Robbie and his work, go to

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6 Responses to Reflections on 12 Steps from the “Bones”

  1. Jesus Aguilar says:

    Hi John! I am Jesus A. Alcoholic from the gate.
    It is kind of discouraging to see that no one wants to participate. I let 2 days go by see if any one will come to this forum, but obviously we are on a sabbatical LOL. We cannot take days off, we only have a daily reprieve and in my 28 years I go to 6 meetings a week the Sunday is a Sabbath and I stay home to be my wife’s, faithful servant.
    While you were on the phone with Robbie the question came up — “HOW WE GET RID OF SHAME”
    For two days I have meditated and prayed for an intuitive thought, plus running it by my sponsor and others with lot more experience than me.
    “We do not get rid of shame, as we do not get rid of ego.” What we do is we become aware of the shameful acts that we have committed and we make a decision not to do them again, so actually shame becomes an ally not an enemy, same as ego, we do not listen but we pay attention.
    I am praying for more participants, in the mean time i am going to be the best I can and fit myself spiritually so I can be of maximum service to God and the people around me.
    Jesus Aguilar

    • Sandie says:

      OK Jesus – I’m going to throw my hat in the ring regarding shame. In Romans 9:33 we are told “anyone who believes in him (Christ) will not be put to shame.” Other translations say we will not be disappointed.
      To me SHAME implies hiding, slinking away, afraid to face God, or anyone else for that matter…kind of like Adam and Eve after they ate the forbidden fruit.
      Maybe a better word would be CONTRITION – which, while it denotes sincere sorrow for a committed wrong, leaves wide open the door for repentance and redemption.
      Jesus is not ashamed of me, so I’m taking my cue from Him.
      EGO…now that’s a whole different story. For me it’s the ever- continuing battle to keep Jesus in His rightful place as LORD of MY LIFE. My pride keeps putting ME on His throne.
      As someone has said, “I’m not where I should be, but thank God I’m not where I was when my walk with Him began!”
      Have a blessed day, and thank you for sharing your heart’s struggle

      • Jesus Aguilar says:

        I feel so blessed today.
        Yes my name is Jesus A. and I am alcoholic from the gate. Aha!
        My days starts at 4:30 am, when I open my eyes and give thanks to God for the opportunity to assert my will with His and go on the world and carry His message.
        This forum has become a part of it and here I can claim “JESUS AS MY LORD AND SAVIOR” unlike in a meeting of A A.
        As always you are right on point. Allow me to expand on the ego thing.
        ego equals false self equals self-will, equals mind.
        Notice my spelling of ego, I use lower case, if I use large case, I am giving ego power, importance. It has taken 28 years of this journey to learn that ego tries to be first and direct my day; I will not allow it any more. Today God guides my life period. Do I listen to ego. Yes, I listen and then I say thank you for sharing, now take a vacation.
        I am fan of John for many years, and I have been blessed with the assistance of Richard Rohr, author of “Breathing under water, and Falling up-wards.” These two books have giving me a very in dept awareness of ego, and truly recommend a reading to enlarge the spiritual journey that we are on.
        So glad to see your willingness to share, after all is about willingness to surrender to a Power Greater than our little selves. LOL. May God richly bless you.
        Jesus Aguilar 02-02-90

  2. Sandie says:

    This morning I woke, still thinking about the idea of contrition, repentance and restoration – and The Lord reminded me of my favorite psalm – Psalm 51. “A broken and contrite heart you will not despise.” Restore unto me the joy of my salvation.” Renew a right spirit within me.” (You can tell I originally learned this in the KJV!) “Then will I tell….”
    Then I opened today’s (March 21) Catch, and there is David Roper speaking of David and using Psalm 51! What a blessing!

    • Jesus Aguilar says:

      Sandie, you have become a blessing in my life, I am forever grateful. Psalm 51:17 this is what we who suffer from the illness of alcoholism, have been blessed with. ” a broken spirit” God did not bring together people of great virtues, God brought together broken spirits: Bill Wilson and Bob Smith and after them have come more than two million. Once again. Thank you and May God richly bless you
      Jesus Aguilar 020290

  3. Loreta says:

    I sometimes don’t like the identifying as an alcoholic, I understand they never want to forget where they have come from, but I heard someone say, once you become a new creature in Christ, you could say, I am a saint who drinks too much. Just saying.

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