Index for Step Seven
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STEP SEVEN ~ PART ONE
============ INTRODUCTION ============ For a pragmatist, Step Seven is probably the most spiritual of the steps. It's the beginning of the second half of the steps, the homestretch. It's the one step, in my opinion, without which you might as well throw the others away. (It would be a lousy God-Joke if we did all the work of the first six steps and this one didn't produce results in our lives!) It is totally unique in spiritual literature. It is the proof of the spiritual way of Life. Concerning Character Defects (CDs), we've: * uncovered them in Step Four, * accepted them in Step Five, * analyzed them in Step Six and become entirely READY to have them removed, as well and as perfectly as we could. Now what? Is God REALLY gonna do this magic for us? S/he's done a little here and a little there in our lives for us, sure, in a hit-or-miss kind of a way. Now the rubber meets the road in Step Seven. "God, are you REALLY gonna DO this magic for ME?" What do we believe? If we really believe HP will do it, then it WILL surely happen. If we DON'T believe HP can/will fix us, then it may take a few minutes longer..:) At the end of this post are some questions, and sharing with others may be helpful to us. We need to know that we ALL have some doubts! The doubts probably exist in the mind of *everyone* who HASN'T done something like this before in the manner of Step Seven. ========================================= THE CONFUSIONS & DOUBTS ABOUT STEP SEVEN: ========================================= There may be some doubts based on the misinformation, confusion, opinions, experiences of others, etc. about HOW HP responds to what Step Seven is talking about: * What exactly IS Step Seven talking about? * Does HP *DO* it? or do we just pray to have HP DO something? * WHO does it - HP, or us, or both of us? * How do I know I can do what I'm supposed to do, IF I'm supposed to do something? * If you've "seen it, done it," and it didn't "work," what now; why bother? * If it *seems* like others who were supposed to have done it - didn't REALLY achieve anything, what then? * Also, by the way, how long will it take? - Let's get this over with God! <G> =================== ACTIONS TO TAKE NOW =================== So let's take a moment today and *examine* what's *inside OUR mind*...and share with us where YOU are today as you approach the new horizon of a truly *personal* (as in *your very own*) spiritual experience designed specifically for YOU. For now, please *write* to WTS where you are on the following: ============================================================= 1. How's your Faith Meter on a scale of 1 to 10? (10 means you're walking across your swimming pool or at least floating:) 2. Do you REALLY believe HP can/will remove the character defects you've uncovered and listed? 3. Do you think they will be removed with or without your help? (There is no right or wrong here. Be politically INcorrect - but be honest:) Love, Bob A PS: === In the next part I will give my (hopefully satisfactory) responses to the confusions and doubts above and share from my own experience how Step Seven works FOR REAL. I invite ALL of you to share from YOUR experiences, strengths and hopes also. Although Step Seven is intensely personal, it is also clear to me that some increased group energy will help each of us move towards the Light. PPS: ==== You can skip ALL discussion of this step if you wish and simply pray the Step Seven prayer on Page 76 (see below) of the AABB now. Because that's ALL YOU HAVE TO DO in Step Seven! The rest is: * understanding * being open to *receiving* Grace, and * follow-up for increased effectiveness. My recommendation: Pray the Step Seven prayer now, share with us and stay tuned for wellness! STEP SEVEN PRAYER: My Creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad. I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows. Grant me strength, as I go out from here, to do your bidding. Amen.
STEP SEVEN ~ PART TWO
OFFICIAL DISCLAIMER: Everything in these posts are MY opinions based on MY experiences. Writing about Step Seven involves expressing my faith/experience in/with HP and some of it may not be politically correct. I welcome you ALL to share in a similar fashion. ========================================================= MY RESPONSES TO THE CONFUSIONS & DOUBTS ABOUT STEP SEVEN: ========================================================= 1. Does HP *DO* it? or do we just pray to have HP DO it? HP DOES it. I couldn't DO it (remove the CDs), so a Power greater than me must be introduced into the equation. We pray, then we experience...growth. 2. What exactly IS Step Seven talking about? Step Seven says to me: I gave up trying to be the generator of REAL personal change. I've uncovered the CDs in the last few steps, but now it's painful to know that they won't just go away by themselves or through my sustained effort, unaided. I need help, and FAST. This hurts. 3. WHO does it - HP, or us, or both of us? HP changes the WAY we react to Life, we experience the change. Experience means not just talking about it, but KNOWING that something's REALLY happening...FINALLY! 4. How do I know I can do what I'm supposed to do, IF I'm supposed to do something? Several million losers, just like me, have done this for over sixty years. (AA started in 1935) Can I REALLY be THAT different from ALL of THEM? 5. If you've "seen it, done it," and it didn't "work," what now; why bother? It may be that it wasn't clear what it meant, or that it wasn't clear what it DID, or that it wasn't clear what to DO. 6. If it *seems* like others who were supposed to have done it - didn't REALLY achieve anything, what then? Many have TALKED about it. Most have experienced SOME CHANGE and lived to talk about it:) What *anyone else* has experienced may be interesting, provocative, inspiring or boring, BUT, what happens inside YOU is FAR MORE IMPORTANT and the only REAL test of this thing. 7. Also, by the way, how long will it take? - Let's get this over with God! <G> Well, if you've read this far, then you're probably ready to JUST DO IT:) Speed of recovery depends on: * how much effort you put into the first six steps * how much it hurts * how much you WANT to change/improve your life * how much faith you have in your Higher Power Hint: A little of any of the four above goes a LONG way:) I believe that God gives each of us the necessary Grace and Power and picks up our slack from our deficiencies and imperfections. As long as we WANT to improve, we get the help. ======================= TO REPEAT FROM PART ONE ======================= You can skip ALL discussion of this step if you wish, and simply pray the Step Seven prayer on Page 76 (see below) of the AABB now. Because that's all YOU HAVE TO DO in Step Seven! The rest is: * understanding * being open to *RECEIVING* Grace, * KNOWING HOW TO RECOGNIZE RECOVERY AND CHANGE, and * follow-up for increased effectiveness. Pray the Step Seven prayer now - VERY APPROPRIATE ON INDEPENDENCE DAY - share with us and stay tuned for WELLNESS! ================== STEP SEVEN PRAYER: ================== My Creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad. I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows. Grant me strength, as I go out from here, to do your bidding. Amen.
STEP SEVEN ~ PART THREE
====================== STEP SEVEN: THE PRAYER ====================== My Creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad. I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows. Grant me strength, as I go out from here, to do your bidding. Amen. ====================== Getting rid of character defects is not about becoming perfect, not about becoming powerful or wonderful or thin or spiritual or gorgeous! It is about becoming *more* useful to HP and others, which in turn leads to an intrinsic sense of continuous gratitude for, and appreciation of Life. This powerful thought reminds me that I am not so useful to others when I am using food, or other substances or practices that cut me off from the sunlight of the Spirit, nor when I am reacting out of my character defects. When I help others in business through my (architectural) work, I am compensated to the degree I am useful. When I help others spiritually, I am compensated spiritually. I move closer to the Source of all Intelligence and Love to the degree I am useful around here. =================================== WHAT TO DO AFTER THE PRAYER IS OVER =================================== As I think about what to do AFTER I've said the prayer, it all seems to come down to "How can I be *more* useful?" The recovery comes through ideas and DIRECTIONS towards this or that action. As I choose better from new directions, whether they come from a sponsor, a buddy or through my internal channel to HP, I become useful and I am rewarded with good feelings. The good feelings about myself mean I don't hurt (as much) and I don't have to abuse myself to cover up the bad self-feelings because they're just not there anymore! WE THINK ABOUT EACH CHARACTER DEFECT (CD) WE LISTED, and how to be MORE useful; how to improve our thoughts and actions. CDs once directed our actions (i.e. our life). ALL CDs begin to diminish and fall by the wayside (i.e. we don't react the way we used to) as we focus on this step and what it means: being useful. It works whether we ended up with 3 or 300 CDs at the end of Step Six. We become God-directed. * The jail doors are open, the prisoner is free. We were the only prisoner and we were the only jailer. * WE GET DIRECTIONS (NOT DIRECTIVES) from God, inherently and through others. * It is the activated result of the decision we made in Step Three. The story is told that Bill W. in the first draft of the AABB had the word "directions" placed in the Step 3 prayer, so that it read "Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care *and direction* of God as we understood Him." We get directions, not directives, they become more clear by the day (as the CDs slip-slide away:), and THEN we take actions which improve our lives. [AABB page 62:] "Next, we decided that hereafter in this drama of life, God was going to be our Director." What happens INSIDE me becomes more important than what happens outside me because what happens inside me determines what happens outside. I am moved to take life-improving actions the more I focus to become useful to others. And with the determination to be more useful, I take useful actions - and I DON'T take useless or hurtful actions. My new question in life is: "WHAT'S IN IT *FROM* ME?" This is the key to spiritual awakenings galore. It is positively life-changing. So, to answer my question: ======================================= WHO *DOES* THE SEVENTH STEP, GOD OR ME? ======================================= I pray, then God tweaks my consciousness, then I choose and and have the power to act in new divinely inspired directions. I say the prayer regularly and ask how to be useful to others and myself. I begin to get directions more and more clearly, and then, as the RESULT of the improved Step Seven consciousness, I take ACTIONS IN NEW DIRECTIONS, which improve my life and the lives of others. This is the prerequisite for step 8 and 9 work to come soon. On page 77 of the AABB during the introduction to Step 8, Bill W. says "Our real purpose is to fit ourselves to be of maximum service to God and the people around us." ========================= SOME QUESTIONS TO ANSWER: ========================= A. What does becoming *MORE USEFUL TO OTHERS* mean to me? B. In what ways can I become more useful, today and tomorrow, to others? C. Which actions will I take, starting today, to move in a DIFFERENT DIRECTION from the way I acted when CD(s) DIRECTED my life? D. Why is the phrase "Grant me strength, as I go out from here, to do your bidding" important to the wording of this step/prayer? E. What's happening in me? ***I invite all (lurkers included:) to share your answers to these questions. This, I think is the *crux of recovery*, and beckons us all to join in and be counted again as you did when many of you shared your Step Three decision experiences to the WTS group. Step Seven either works - or let's forget the whole thing! At midpoint in the 12 steps, it is truly the turning point of our lives. Your honest responses strengthen us ALL in the hope of ever-improving recovery, one day at a time. Love and Light, Bob A
STEP SEVEN ~ PART FOUR
Dear WTSers, This is a bonus post:) For me *Step Seven* is an absolute miracle to behold. It has the power to transform us and for us to behold its majesty through the personal experience of our budding relationship with a Higher Power. It takes us from powerlessness to power, with ANYTHING. Before, Life was like a lighthouse keeper trying to do his job with a flashlight. Not very useful. When we engage a Power Source Greater than the batteries of a little flashlight, we became MORE useful. And This One keeps on ticking forever:) Detachment ========== There is another very important application for the Step Seven PRAYER that I have discovered and used through the years. It may be helpful to any of us that tend to be codependent somewhat:) I'd like to share about it. In Alanon, we are taught that the solution to relationship problems (if you have any:) is *detachment*, "releasing with love". The spiritual principle of detachment dates back to Buddha and I'm sure before - but it is a powerful healing principle for all members of a difficult relationship. Detachment is to the Alanon as abstinence is to us recovering from compulsive overeating. Detaching is NOT disconnecting, not cutting off communication; it is bonding MORE to the relationship within of our own indwelling Higher Power on a more continual basis, where the solution to ANY problem resides! It is allowing the "other(s)" in the relationship(s) to do the same. In that spirit, I offer an alternate way of looking at the Step Seven prayer. If you're having a problem with Joe, or let's just say ***, simply take the words of the Step Seven prayer (AABB page 76) and change the nouns and pronouns so it reads like this: ===================== THE DETACHMENT PRAYER ===================== My Creator, I am now willing that you should have all of ***, good and bad. I pray that you now remove from *** every single defect of character which stands in the way of ***'s usefulness to you and his/her fellows. Grant *** strength as s/he goes out from here to do your bidding. Amen. ====== This works well for resentments as well, which is not surprising, since I usually need to spiritually detach FROM the people I resent - and attach more to HP to have the difficulty resolved. I have used the same process above (noun changing), especially for resentment clearing, with the Step Three prayer (from AABB page 63.) The two work well together, I recite Step Three and Step Seven consecutively for an extra boost of helpfulness from HP! The only condition for either of these spiritual techniques to work is to USE it, SAY it in a humble position of your own choosing, on a regular basis at least two times a day, then e-mail your sponsor in the morning:) Love, Bob PS: I just this morning used it for the design of a church which has been troubling me. This came out of my mouth with no pre-thought: My Creator, I am now willing that you should have all of this church design, good and bad. I pray that you now remove from the design every single detail which stands in the way of its potential usefulness to you and the congregation. Grant this church design power *from here on* to express Your nature. Amen.
STEP SEVEN ~ PART FIVE
OK FOLKS, this is it! We've recited the Step Seven prayer from a humble posture and we hope/expect HP to start the changing process. We expect to become changed, we expect to become wonderful, we expect to become happy, we expect to become more secure in Life. Pretty good stuff. Does it happen? Yes. How does it happen? Let's talk. This is probably the most challenging of all the parts of all the steps that I have written about. I hope my effort is fruitful for you. I am not an expert, just a volunteer to lead this discussion. I can only share what has happened in me and how I discern what has happened in others. Here it is, MY take on it. My character defects were a set of reactions to life that hurt me and others. The *automatic* aspect of re-actions - what happens in me and through me before I consciously realize it - are/were the PROBLEM, en toto. That's what compulsive overeating was. I would make a conscious decision to eat *just one* and then later, I've eaten a bunch! My consciousness had turned off. It went to sleep as my actions became re-active and I acted compulsively. Hence "compulsive overeater." So with ALL my character defects. Food was just an example. When people criticized me, I didn't learn; I defended, automatically. When people asserted themselves, I didn't; the fear residing in me made me cringe, automatically. When people were nasty, I responded by withdrawing or becoming a bully to avenge, automatically. When money was scarce, I deprived myself rather than change my actions, automatically. I had been on automatic for the first 45 years of my life. But, it was not enough just to become introspective. That meant I could see what I was doing but my *doing* didn't change. I simply needed a Power greater than my ineffective effort to change directions. So, I prayed the 7th Step prayer over and over. Slowly, slowly, CD by CD, (because I was now *aware* of them) began to be removed. I began to notice that I was reacting differently to Life as it came at me. (HP HAD TURNED OFF MY REACTIVE BUTTON:)** I didn't automatically react, as often. This process accelerated the MORE I involved HP in my experiences. Sometimes I didn't react at all, and maintained an attitude of "I'll get back to you" (rather than I'll get back at you":) That was recovery in the making. I didn't *haveta* please people I didn't *haveta* be perfect I didn't *haveta* be afraid to act/assert I didn't *haveta* be right I didn't *haveta* wallow in self-pity I didn't *haveta* operate lustfully I didn't *haveta* compile miserly I didn't *haveta* screw up I didn't *haveta* eat compulsively I didn't *haveta* hurt others I didn't *haveta* hurt myself Life doesn't intimidate me today, hardly ever:) Translated, that means I'm not afraid to take chances, most of the time. Writing about this stuff is a great joy to me. THIS is semi-automatic today. It is true the more I am consciously in teamwork with my Higher Power in every aspect of my life. ======= CHOICES ======= ** (HP HAD TURNED OFF MY REACTIVE BUTTON:) THIS IS THE MAGIC. WHEN THE "BUTTON" WAS TOGGLED OFF, I BEGAN TO FIND THAT I HAD *CHOICES* TO DO A OR B. As I continue to choose A (the healthier choice, let's say) I continued to "hurt no more." The more *I chose* the more useful "way", the more *choosing wellness* became a habit and the more my old way of reacting (without choosing) became less a habit, hence less something I did. I went from *reactivity* to choosing Life. God toggles the button and I am able to choose. When I choose, I can learn to do things better. When I also meditate to receive directions, I get assistance in *what to choose*. More about that in Step Eleven. When things don't appear to be going right, I pray "Thy will, not mine, be done," and THINGS & PEOPLE CHANGE. I have new playmates and new playpens. When things improve I automatically feel grateful to Life and my personal indwelling God. I know my responsibilities, and I allow others to be responsible for theirs. It is a new dimension of existence and it stems directly from a new non-reactive way of living Life. It was possible all along, I needed others to show me the way. The wisdom and direction was theirs, the ACTIONS were mine and the resultant experiences were and are now mine to enjoy and share. Who'da thunk it all came because I had a little problem with food? So, dahling, what's it been like for you? If you've read this far, it's time for a share from the lurkers AND the writers, answering only one question below. *I especially would like to hear from old-timers who haven't written for awhile on this.* This is a time for sharing your experience strength and hope TO HELP OTHERS, AND IMPROVE YOUR OWN EXPERIENCE THROUGH CLARIFYING AND ARTICULATING YOUR PERSONAL EXPERIENCE IN A GENERAL WAY. There will be one more part to my stuff on Step Seven in a week or so. For now, please, everyone and anyone, answer THE QUESTION: What happened to me? Love, Bob
STEP SEVEN ~ PART SIX
Each of us seems to assign a different *personality* to HP. Some see Him as a Man who came to earth, taught us, and conquered death. Some see Her as a benevolent spirit, as a group of spiritual beings, or as an all encompassing Spirit or Mind. Stephen Hawking, the great scientist, wants more than anything to know the *mind of God*. Me too:) PRINCIPLES ABOVE PERSONALITIES: My own *principle* is that there exists a pool of, a totality of, spiritual substance in the form of energy and ideas, in which I exist and thrive; from which I can draw extra power and intelligence to improve my life. I call it Infinite Mind, or, the Fifth Dimension. I partake of improvement to the degree I clear away the obstacles in my path. That can be any day I decide to do so because the obstacles are my own and were not placed there by some avenging life-force. When I make the decision to start this process (Step Three) I begin a journey in a new dimension of existence. As I clear away the wreckage of the past, my thinking changes and then my reactions change. I develop a new state of belief and faith in this Power to heal and mend my life and move me into a Life of greater health and prosperity, one day at a time. In this state of mind, the creative activity of this infinite Mind takes over and creates in my experience a tangible reproduction of the pattern of my thinking. As I think wellness and prosperity, so I experience them. In THIS manner, I work constantly to improve my life through the alteration of my thinking, and it is manifested in my life as clearly as a building I design is manifested from the blueprints. It has always worked this way, no matter my thinking (good OR bad). The *improvement* in my life comes as I *improve my thinking* through the active participation in Truth, and a magnificent program of spiritual principles, delivered from HP in this century: The Twelve Steps. >From here on, may your life never be the same, as you enter(-tain) your Fifth Dimension and mend your life's experience. Love, Bob Andron
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