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Keep It Simple

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When I put this Tradition in my own words, I say, “As a member of an OA group, I should never pitch or stress the name(s) of non-OA-approved, books, literature, authors, spiritual leaders, vitamins, weight loss programs, church revivals, other Twelve Step groups, self-help chewing gums, etc. If I do, I could become distracted by problems of money, property, and status, which will divert me from my own recovery and carrying the message of recovery to others.”

It actually says never. That is uncommon in Twelve Step literature. Often, something is suggested or recommended. But why is this so important? OA’s Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, Second Edition says, “The reason can be summarized in three words: Keep it simple” (p. 126).

I can’t tell you how much this compulsive eater needs that slogan. I remember trying so many things prior to OA to lose weight or to improve myself. I was hooked on self-help books. For me, the problem with those books is that I need a Fellowship and a Power greater than me to live a sane life of recovery from compulsive eating long-term.

I find the solution in the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. They are instructions on how to be abstinent and sane. Also, they’re clear—I don’t have to figure anything out on my own—and they’re free! If there were a profit motive in OA, I am not sure I would have stayed. I have always been quite suspicious of people trying to take advantage of me or pull one over on me, so that would have been the perfect excuse to bail.

When I focus on my primary purpose, I recover. As a result, when I am at an OA meeting, I put first things first and focus on the solution found in the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. If someone says at a meeting, “I know this isn’t OA approved, but it has really helped me,” and begins to share or read, then that’s an indication it’s time to bring up this Tradition, either in the moment, one-on-one after the meeting, or during a group conscience. It’s never easy to speak up, but often, others don’t know that by following the Traditions, we create a foundation for a healthy, recovering group.

Let’s keep it simple and focus on our primary purpose and leave the rest for outside the meeting.

— Edited and reprinted from OA Today newsletter, St. Louis Bi-State Area Intergroup, June 2014


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