Step Two

By Alberto Negron
In eLetter
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Step 2: We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

When I first came to Christ, I was at my lowest point in life (or so I thought at the time). I was homeless, I badly needed a bath, and I had survived a convoluted suicide attempt. I found myself at the Union Rescue Mission in downtown Los Angeles after having made a trek across the country, starting from New York City in mid-December of 1979. Due to my Roman Catholic background, I believed in God in a general way. God was powerful, but far away and unwilling to help me. I was soon introduced to a new God—the God that would come down, the God that would meet me, the God that would search me out in order to take me in. The God named Jesus, who not only came, but died. So I fired the General God and put my faith in the God-Man, Jesus.

“Lean not on your own understanding,” the Bible says (Proverbs 3:5). “My ways are not your ways, my thoughts not your thoughts,” says the Lord (Isaiah 55:8). Even after I accepted Jesus, I still didn’t fully understand these truths. My ability to understand wasn’t what had saved me, but I behaved as though it was. My quest became a quest for understanding instead of Christ. Now there’s nothing wrong with a bit of clarity, but it’s not the same as trust. I felt all I needed was more information, better information, or perhaps better application of that information. My life became less and less manageable, but I still believed that I was in control.

I was able to make some progress when, perhaps ten years or so into my Christian experience, I found myself crying at my desk at work. I was bereft of hope, filled with despair, and willing to check myself in to an in-patient therapy program. It was here that I realized I was saved “by grace, not by works” (Ephesians 2:8). Knowing this lifted a huge burden for certain, but I was still seeking information, not trusting God. I had another piece of the Christian puzzle. A valuable piece, but I didn’t understand yet that only Christ was The Peace I was looking for. Only full trust in God could restore me to sanity.

In his book “A Hunger for Healing,” J. Keith Miller states, “If you believe your behavior is sane, that it is ‘wise, mentally sound, free from hurt and disease, without delusion or prejudice,’ then think further about your behavior. Do you have temper tantrums? Do you have any uncontrolled anger? …Do you have excessive worries or fears? Do you drink or work to excess? Do you procrastinate, try to control people? Do you do any of these things in the face of the desire not to? And do you continue to have the illusion that you really are in control (or could get in control if you just ‘made up your mind to’ and took the time)? Unless you can see the insanity of your thoughts and behavior, you may find it impossible to take Step Two and get in recovery.”

I was foolish to think that I could make myself better with information and determination. There’s a scripture that says, “I look to the hills…but where does my help come from? It comes from the Lord” (Psalm 121:1). In my own insanity, I was looking to the same hills again and again, but I would not look to Jesus, my Lord. It was not until I became willing to do the unthinkable—place my confidence in someone outside myself—that I finally began to make some progress.

J. Keith Miller states, “Christians who are frustrated and blocked by their denied Sin despite their conscious commitment to God and Christ need a way to bring their control tendencies to God so they can be freed, find reconciliation and serenity, and get on with growing spiritually in Christ. If they discover a Twelve-Step program and take Steps One and Two, they are told that the way to unsnarl this tangle of worms and to get well from this disease is to make a decision to turn their ‘entire lives and wills’ over to God, to let God be the producer, director, and healer of their lives and the lives of others around them.”

So, it is with gratitude and a great sense of the love God has for me that I give thanks for the 12 Steps. It has been a discipleship program for me. It has been a road on which I have learned that it is God’s will and God’s view that matters if I am to be a healthy, joyful ambassador of grace and healing. My own thinking has always led back to me, but right thinking puts me on a path with the Good Shepherd. “I will go my own way; please don't let me destroy myself.” This is what I say when I'm in my right mind, which is more often these days, thanks to God.

I understand now that it’s not my own understanding that counts—I can trust the God who sought me out, met me where I was, and will not rest until I am finally home. Lord, thy will be done.

This piece was written as part of a series on the Twelve Steps. You can find Al’s first writing here. If you’d like to learn more about Recovery and the Twelve Steps, please visit

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