When I first began attending 12 step meetings and going to church I was overwhelmed. Why was I here? Who are these people? I had many questions. There were phrases, traditions, customs, and mannerisms to learn and understand. I had to learn new vocabulary. There was a lot to understand that required regular attendance. To be a part of something involves regular participation.
Feeling a part of...
Infrequent attendance can reduce the feeling of belonging. Regular attendance can improve our awareness and understanding of all that is happening with those in the group and help build connections with others. Relationships and knowledge of group experiences build with attendance and participation. When we miss we may feel out of touch because... we are out of touch. Attendance is the beginning of getting to know other people in the group and so much more.
Part of the process in committing to a group is the willingness to help the group. No one is paid to run the group. It requires volunteers to exist. Once a decision is made to commit to the group, taking on a service commitment can help. The group is a community created to help each other. Phase one is often on the receiving end of guiding and learning, but each of us can still find ways to be helpful. Cleaning, setting up, and welcoming others can help us better understand the spiritual values within service. All that is needed is some humility and willingness.
Information can be overwhelming in the beginning. For most of us, our minds are limited to how much it can learn at one time. A list of 20 items can be too much to take home and remember. Over time with regular attendance and participation in Phase One we can learn many new ideas. As we attend consistently we will be taking home less and less new information.
Over time many of us can sense a desire for more. More experience with God's character and working out internal cognitive struggles will be required to continue growing.
Raise the Bar
Our continued growth can be limited upon our willingness to step up and raise the bar. If we are not willing to raise the bar and continue to improve, we probably won't. It's not up to the group to challenge us, it's ultimately up to ourselves to step up and take new action.
Moving from regular attendance into Phase Two, Three, etc. is to begin thinking and seeking how we can better put God's will into action beyond regular attendance. In Phase Two we can seek to grow spiritual character within our hearts and minds through more active learning.
Phase one can be referred to as passive learning.
It's easy for discussions to shift away from topics. Value the time to focus on God's word and staying on topic with gentle guidance. "How can we grow" with the many instructions used in the Bible. The more we keep focused upon God's will and how to do it the more likely we will. What other people do or think can become a distraction from how we can grow with God's goodness.
Each of us has an agenda within our minds. We have our own ideas, wants, and goals. We have our schedule for the week with work, school, family, friends, hobbies, habits, etc. As we discuss 'how' we can grow in the scripture topic our minds will begin to process trying to fit God's ways into our own agenda. We can reflect and imagine how to take new Godly action which can be the beginning of bringing it to life. We can learn to fit new action within our mental schedule and make it happen. Learning to do as Jesus did can begin by imagining ourselves as disciples of Jesus. What would we do if Jesus was right here with us now as Jesus was with disciples in the Bible?
We will need to humble ourselves to learn and grow. We will need to understand our misunderstandings about the Bible, Jesus, and God. No one is perfect. Going to the Bible to learn spiritual truth is a process that involves revealing our own misunderstandings. We correct ourselves, not others. As we share how we have corrected ourself, that can help others. In order to move to Phase Two we must begin making inward corrections within our beliefs.
We can pray for God to help us in humility, patience, forgiveness, and mercy. We can meditate upon love and peace. We can imagine building relationships with other through compassion. As we begin to practice these ideas, grow in humility, and give to others through love and service we can begin to understand the invisible spiritual values tied to such actions.
Fear, resentment, bitterness, self-seeking, pride, and other forms of sin can play out within our thoughts making it difficult to embrace humility. At this point it may be best to begin a practice of prayer for help to stand firm with attendance. Our minds can easily get distracted and guide us away from attendance. If do not attend, most of us won't learn or grow. Few of us will take the time on our own to dive into the Bible and see how we can be different through God's righteous character. Most of us will need the group to help us learn.
Sometimes hearing the same message restated in different ways by different people over time can slowly sink in create an 'aha effect.' Everything finally comes together and we 'get it.'
The meeting continues after the meeting
As we go to groups/meetings we learn things about prayer, attitudes, and how to make adjustments within ourselves. We are then told to go through the week seeing how we can put some of these ideas into practice. There is much to discover about ourselves and our interactions with other spiritual beings through this process between meetings. The ideas we learn in the meetings can replay in our heads guiding and prompting us toward growth activities. If we miss the meeting, we miss the guiding and prompting ideas.
The Bible is filled with patterns.
In a concordance search on 'love' with the NKJV it lists over 500 verses using it. To best understand what the Bible means by love, and this is incredibly important to our souls, we can read the 500 verses and find the patterns. Also, due to each of interpreting things a little different, we can benefit from doing it together as a group and experience different viewpoint upon those verses. The final and best piece of this journey is to put into practice some to the central ideas as best we can what the Bible says and then share together what we find. Keep in mind this is what Jesus taught the disciples to do. We read the Bible, find the patterns of God's will, practice it, and then share with each other what we discover.
Love is a central theme throughout the Bible. The first commandment of Moses is to love God with 'all' our heart, mind, soul, and strength (Inward Authority). The words 'love' and 'all' are repeated and there is good reason for the repetition.
Provided below are sample packets of concordance searches to learn patterns of transformative principles. Remember, regular repetition over a long period of time is how to learn. Patience, perseverance, endurance, diligence, and self-discipline are all part of the process.
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NKJV used for most Bible verses
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