Step Seven

"Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings."

Step Seven Contents:

Introduction and Questions for journaling
Part 1 and Questions for journaling
Part 2 and Questions for journaling
Part 3 and Questions for journaling
Closing


Step Navigator:

Previous Step
Step Six
Up
Index
Next Step
Step Eight

Step Seven ~ Introduction

"Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings."

Dear Loop Travelers,

I am grateful to be able to laugh at the struggles I've had to get this message to you -- I couldn't yesterday. I have written this message three times in full -- each honest, open, a real share, with questions. All have disappeared in varieties of cyberspace due to a complicated set of connection problems there is no need to go in to. The point is that I asked for help and got it; I kept to my commitment and paths kept opening up. Somewhere out there are several shares about humility. This may not be the best. But because I am teachable I took a suggestion and that and this time I'm composing my message off line.

I want to thank you all for the patience I feel you having as I go through this process. For being out there and willing, ready and able to work the steps. For allowing me to serve as your leader. For trusting that someone is out there willing to lead. For opening your hearts and minds to the sharing that helps us all recover.

If I repeat myself from a previous message you did get, I apologize.

I'd like to start with the serenity prayer: HP, grant me/us the serenity to accept the things I/we cannot change, the courage to change the things I/we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

As I said, my name is Karen and I am a compulsive eater and anorexic. I've been in program for 10 years and had a relapse and come back. The way back was through the steps and taught me that they are not something to do once and leave behind but really a way of life, a solution for living, the answer to how to exist in my skin and with my defects while working for and toward change. A lot of the *living* of this way of life comes through each and every step, and step seven is no different. In fact step seven is particularly meaningful to me because one of the hardest things for me to do is actually ask for help on an ongoing basis, not knowing when and how the results will come, and not stopping the effort to live well in the meantime. Thinking about this has tuned me in to one of the key words in step seven in the OA 12&12, humility.

Like many cos, I find the step descriptions have me pegged. Step Seven talks about humiliation and makes me think about how it is different from humility. It also makes me aware of how little I understood humility when I came into this program, defeated by food. I was humiliated for sure. Shamed and mortified and disgusted with myself. But I was no different than I'd been for years; my negative self-image was a secret kind of pride. I thought humility was what I had: a conviction that I was more modest than anyone else. If that isn't pride! But I didn't see it. I thought humility was giving in to other people's desires (i.e. not taking care of myself and slavishly going against my principles to meet other's needs), thinking the worst of oneself (spitting on hp's handiwork) and never trying your hardest (ditto). When I came into program and had my first go round with the steps I had a lot to learn. I learned first of all that all that self-hatred and conviction that I was a worse person than you were, that my pain was worse than yours but I wouldn't tell you and shame you with it, that I was a good person (yes, it was a contradiction) but sadly hampered by my goodness into self-sacrifice -- all of that meant I had an ego bigger than my body. Finally I came to understand why my family had found it so tiresome to hear me complain about how much I had eaten. Either they didn't believe or didn't care -- sometimes both. And here I was suffering so much! It was genuine pain. It was horrible pain. But the pain that I tried to get sympathy for was not the worst of it. The worst of it was not being able to ask for help even when I was trying to ask for help. All the doors to listening, hearing, and asking, all the doors to loving, were closed in me. I had no humility.

Each time I do step seven I learn something else about humility and find my way to it in a new and healing path. Last summer I found myself asking for a lifelong depression to be removed. Having reread step six, I've realized again how frightened I was to even ask to have that defect removed. How much I felt I needed to hold on to it, that I would cease to exist without it, that it was just too much to be happy if hp was making it happen and I was no longer in charge of myself. I also learned that I was not in charge of my recovery (again); that the best of my intentions and most sincere of my prayers did not mean I would wake up relieved of a sadness I'd lived with for years. I learned to make it a daily part of my practice to humbly ask hp to remove my depression. And in asking on a daily basis and living wih the feelings and moods that I had but coming back to the willingness to just ask, just listen, just accept -- but still keep trying to live well and be well -- I learn again and again about humility.

I know it can happen with every defect I own, including my anxiety about leading this step, also a form of pride. I want to do it so well, you see ... as if the point of the step and our sharing is to flatter my ego. The point is to help the compulsive eater who still suffers, and to reinforce recovery for those of us who are gratefully free of the compulsion. So here are some humble questions for journaling:

Up
Return to the top

Step Seven ~ Introductory Questions

"Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings."
  1. Do I have a higher power to direct my step seven prayer to? Is it easy or hard for me to ask HP to remove my shortcomings? Why?
  2. What IS humility and why does this step ask me to be humble?
  3. Many of us confuse humility with humiliation. What is the difference between the two? How do I know when I am humble or when I am humiliated? When I am defeated by food or life, which do I feel and why? Describe a case of being defeated and humiliated, and one of being defeated and humble. How are they different?
  4. Do I have low self-esteem? If yes -- how can humility help me with that struggle? Is there any danger to having positive self-esteem? How can humility help with that? And if no -- would there be any benefit for me in being more humble? How does positive self-esteem feel and what does it have to do with a condition of humility?

  5. HP, grant me/us the serenity to accept the things I/we cannot change, the courage to change the things I/we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

    peace

    Karen

Up
Return to the top

Step Seven ~ Part 1

"Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings."

Hi loopies,

Thank you for all your thoughtful, honest, helpful shares. And thank you to all those who are helping me to get these messages to and from you while I'm not connected to WTS.

As I've been thinking about the step this week, and rereading it, I have found myself (and I trust the way hp works in my life) focusing over and over on the exact wording of the step and in particular the phrase after "humbly."

Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.

This step tells us to ask, and to ask God. Now when I first came into this program I couldn't even use the word "God." Sometimes I replace it even now with "higher power." I think of all the wisdom I heard in my first meetings about what this higher power or "God" was:

"Did you eat compulsively yesterday? If not, get on your knees and ask whatever it was that kept you from eating compulsively to do it again."

"All I know is I have a higher power and I'm not it."

"The world I've been carrying on my shoulders is not mine to carry."

Part of humility for me is recognizing that I am not the one in charge of the universe, anyone else, people in need, those who are angry and forceful, or even my own life. This was an incredible concept and the source of my most profound spiritual awakening. I suddenly realized the entire concept on which I had been living (and suffering) my life was completely nuts. Who did I think I was to be responsible for the universe? Once I got out of the driver's seat, I could acknowledge that someone or something else was in charge. It might be a person, it might be a force, it might be coherent, it might be chaotic. But it was beyond my understanding. The next miracle was realizing, through the gift of abstinence (mine and others') -- all the health and vitality and hope and faith and good lives and grateful hearts around me -- that whatever was in charge had good things in mind for me if I would stop getting in my own way. I, who had never asked anyone for anything honestly, began to believe there was a power I could ask for help. If it could keep me from eating, if it could turn lives around, maybe, just maybe, I could ask that higher power for help in living my life.

That asking for help is something I need to remember on a daily basis. The life I live, maybe that most of us live, is full of the illusion of individual authority. And full of ego. I can easily forget, if I don't work the steps and maintain conscious contact with my higher power, that I can -- and must -- ask for help. With my worries and my joys, my feelings and my moods, my food and my sleep, my family and my job. With every little interaction, somehow, I need to ask for help. And when I do life is very, very good. When I don't, even if I am not eating compulsively, I do not feel as well. When I don't "ask God" I slide away from the serenity, peace, joy, sense of strength and meaning that make life worth while. So today I want to share about asking, and asking God:


Up
Return to the top

Step Seven ~ Part 1: Questions

"Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings."
  1. What does it mean to ask for something? Am I good at asking? Why or why not? Does it come easily? Are all kinds of asking the same?
  2. What role does asking play in my life? Do I ask for help from friends, program, at work, at home? What have I asked for today, and from whom?
  3. How is asking an action of humility? Is it ever an act of arrogance and presumption? What's the difference? Give an example of each.
  4. Why does this step so boldly tell us to ask GOD? How do I feel about asking God for anything? About naming God in this step and discussion? Does it matter what I am asking for?
  5. Describe your motivations for and emotions about asking God.
Thanks for letting me share and continuing thanks for the opportunity to lead this step,

Love and esh

Karen


Up
Return to the top

Step Seven ~ Part 2

"Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings."

Dear loopies,

It is an incredible privilege and a gift to read all of your shares on step seven. It never ceases to amaze me how much my program is strengthened by hearing and watching other people work theirs. When I turn to my higher power in the morning to take the first three steps I go over what it means to me to have a higher power. I call my hp by many names and one of them is this fellowship. I invoke you all when I am asking for guidance and help and trying to hear the voice of sanity and serenity. And it works. Truly, we can do together what we cannot do alone. Your shares have been wonderful.

To continue thinking about step seven I was rereading in the OA 12 step book about our expectations when taking this step. And I think back to my own experiences and those of so many that I've heard in meetings or over the phone. We do an inventory, give it away, feel relief, become willing, ask God to remove our defects -- and so often expect to suddenly become wonderful persons, or not be bothered by a problem. It can be so disappointing to see the nasty little head of a defect rear itself when we have sincerely prayed for relief. What does this mean? Well ...

When I first came into this program I was struck abstinent. It was a miracle and I felt wonderful. I was full of love and convinced all I did was love. In fact I do think I became a saner, serener, kinder, happier, more loving person the moment I realized a higher power could keep me from eating if I asked and followed spiritual disciplines. I did my first inventory and dug up a mess of stuff, none of it pretty, but probably overemphasized the negative. I turned it over and didn't quite know what to expect. I thought ahead to steps eight and nine with fear. The God time of Step Six and Step Seven seemed to be a haven of safety and protection and being loved.

But then I realized that these steps were as much actions as any others. I realized slowly, of course. I realized that to focus on my defects was a defect; to wallow in them was a deliberate refusal of higher power's actions and caring in my life. I also realized that trusting in hp didn't mean I would wake up cured of my defects. I think, after having been struck abstinent, that I expected that. The zap from God. And if it wasn't there I had failed or was undeserving. Not that that makes any sense at all -- if God doesn't take it away, I have failed? Who is in charge here? Does undeservingness have anything to do with anything in this program? Isn't that what I have been relieved of, that burden of feeling not good enough?

I had to learn that to assess my own defects was not my business. I had to know them, look at them, think about them, admit them, pray about them, ask to have them removed, but I couldn't judge them because that put me in the position of God. It's a bit tricky because this step does ask me to learn a lot about myself. In a way I think it asks me to learn more about myself than step four does. Because once I've said what I've done and who I am I need to watch myself in operation. I can no longer just write down the past, I must live in the present. I can feel serene and then something will happen and suddenly I am angry. I have had to learn not to expect that those moments won't happen but to learn how to deal with them and especially what actions to take and how my expectations can affect my actions. I don't deal with defects by trying not to be angry but by working the steps, taking the action, asking for help ... being conscious of how my defects are operating in the world teaches me a lot about myself. It helps me see how my defects are related to my assets. To sort out the fine balance of my presence in the world -- but only with hp's help. Only when I am consciously taking the action. That is when I find myself transformed. I've learned that expecting God to remove a defect without any action on my part doesn't work; nor does thinking I must take all the action. For me, step seven is about working together with hp, knit together but still aware that I am not in charge. It is, for me, a delicate and important balance I have to find again every day.

All of this is very abstract so let me give one example. My mother-in-law was recently here for two weeks. I was nervous about it because I like to be quiet and had a lot of work to do and she likes to talk and is well beyond the phase of having any work. My husband was very very busy and has a long history of ignoring his mother when he needs to. She's sensitive and needy and looks to me for help and also for interpretation of what he is doing. To put it clearly, sometimes she drives me crazy with her repeated stories, negative attitudes toward people, need for attention, and constant yakking.

Needless to say during the visit there were several times when I found myself impatient. Very impatient. I didn't want to ask for help, I wanted to get mad. I didn't want the defect to go away, or even to think of it as a defect. At least my ego didn't. The rest of me knew better and hp was nudging away. So I asked for help. I asked for help before she came, to get some strategies for lovingly dealing directly with conflicting needs -- and I got them. I talked to people about mother-in-law visits and issues, and got much wisdom. And I talked to God when I got angry. Not once was the anger removed in a zap. But I started behaving better without resentment, because I was doing what I knew God (not my mother-in-law) wanted. And it wasn't always to simply take care of her. Many times hp showed me how to take care of myself without rejecting her. After a few days I was not angry any more. I was taking care of myself and I was behaving kindly. I even went out of my way. I started to really understand the situation this woman is in and to love her more deeply and profoundly than I had before. We bonded about some things. When she left I felt as if I'd been given a connection I hadn't had before. And of course my kids and my husband had, too.

It came from that willingness to ask, and from the willingness to take the action and surrender my expectations about the results. And it came from asking every time.


Up
Return to the top

Step Seven ~ Part 2: Questions

"Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings."
  1. How do we complete step seven? What is the action of this step?
  2. What are my expectations about "completing" the step? What do I expect of myself, my higher power, the people around me?
  3. What happens when in taking step seven and asking for help I discover a new defect or set of problems?
  4. How can this step help me see the relationship between my defects and my assets?
  5. How does the phrase "in God's time" apply to this step? To my action and asking? To my expectations? To my responsibilities? To what I cannot control?
  6. Is it important to understand our motives in asking? Our motives about the defects we want removed? The motives of our defects? How can my action in this step help me with my motives?
Love

Karen


Up
Return to the top

Step Seven ~ Part 3

"Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings."

Dear Loopies,

Thank you again for the privilege of leading this step. I have read the step several times in the OA 12 step book now and each time there I am, right on the page, in the story. It's my story. The section I want to focus on today discusses what happens after we have humbly asked God for help and gotten up to go about our lives "in a new frame of mind, knowing that God will indeed remove the shortcoming" (63). The discussion continues:

"Often we will be shown actions which we are to take as each defect is being removed. For instance, we may visualize ourselves as the people we will be when we no longer have each particular defect. How will we think and act? We may find it helpful to rehearse what we'll say and do when tempted to act in the old self-destructive ways. Sometimes we'll be caught off guard and fall back into the defective patterns, but if we persist in visualizing and practicing better ways of life, they will, with our Higher Power's help, eventually become second nature. When we make a mistake, we acknowledge that fact without claiming that we ourselves are that mistake." (63-4).

The step ends with the reminder that "God does for us what we cannot do for ourselves."

So how has this worked in my life? How is it working now?

I can't say this has been the easiest month of my life. I am without specific job responsibilities and the requirement to show up at work - technically I have the summer off. Due to the nature of my work and my personality, however, I have responsibilities without structure. There is nothing about the way the day moves to tell me I have done something productive and worthwhile when it ends. I am working out of my home so the house calls to me with all its undone tasks. There have been the usual family summer contacts, special and stressful. My kids are home, my husband is working out of the house, it's been hot and humid and draining, and I miss my colleagues. There is ample opportunity for me to think about my defects, to become possessed by them - or to surrender them over and over again to my higher power. Well, one of the great things about service is you have to walk the walk. I cannot lead this step without doing it on a daily basis. It creeps into my mind at all times of day: "Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings." I find myself getting irritated at something and into my head comes "Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings." So the asking and the rehearsing of different actions and behaviors also comes into my head.

Another thing about service is rigorous honesty. I can't step out in front of a meeting and not tell the truth about who I am. I can't write on this loop and say I've been perfectly serene all month, that all my defects are removed, that I am permanently cured, that I am even happy. But I can tell you that I am living a sane, honest, and useful life, with a lot of happiness in it. And also that having my defects in my face is hard work and not always comfortable. It seems to me that what this step is all about is taking an action that helps me form a continuous working relationship with my higher power, a power greater than myself that can free me from my ego, my fear, doubt and insecurity, my self-righteousness, my crabbiness or sleeplessness or depression or laziness or compulsion to work - depending on where I am. Working the step has not been turning me into a non-crabby or non-lazy person, it has been changes my actions little by little during the day, allowing me to learn and change in mid-stream, preventing me from digging myself into holes, allowing me to see my way through by hp's light, strengthening my faith, hope, and love, making me someone who can listen to others better. I don't feel like I'm a better person at all. But the way I have spent time with my mother-in-law, the honesty I've shared with my husband, the generosity that has come out of me towards others - has been a joyful surprise. As it always is when I work this step. HP is doing for me what I cannot do for myself because I am in fairly constant contact and asking for help. The rehearsal is happening all the time without my willing it, and I love feeling better about who I am, not living in guilt and shame all the time, feeling constructive about the actions I take and life I share. I love having hope every moment, hope restoring me when the mood sinks, just because I "humbly ask God." I get this strength from you all doing the same thing ... from the long history of step seven in AA and OA, from the Big Book and the OA 12 step book's we ... from the truth. Here are some questions for journaling:


Up
Return to the top

Step Seven ~ Part 3: Questions

"Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings."
  1. As I take this step, do I find myself visualizing myself as a different person, engaged in different behaviors? What is that like? What specific changes do I see? Have I found myself doing or being in those ways I've rehearsed?
  2. What is my reaction to making a mistake, or noticing the old defect rearing its head? What do I think, feel, and do?
  3. How has this month been for me, emotionally and spiritually? Has working step seven made a difference? What kind of difference?
  4. Describe what it feels like to have "God doing for us what we could never do for ourselves."
  5. Is it important to me that the step focuses on "us" not "me"? (See the line above). How does the "us" of step seven affect my actions in humbly asking for help?
Thanks for letting me share again

Love

Karen


Up
Return to the top

Step Seven ~ Closing

"Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings."

Dear loopies,

Thank you all for your sharing on step 7 and for allowing me to be your trusted servant. It has changed my life in ways I both do and do not recognize, but feel. Just keeping my mind on the step of the month *always* changes my life -- but the work this month has been particular and very real. I do not feel like a different person, all better, all fixed, or anything like that. Rather, I feel wiser and more aware of myself, my defects, my humanity. More able to be humble. Including about my defects (to go egocentric about defects is one of my defects), which are part of being human and something hp can smile at and work with me on. I can take them seriously without moaning and groaning about how bad I am, or getting all depressed. I have so many gifts, including the gift of working this program. I heard once in a meeting that we are so lucky to be chosen to be in this program ... to have a spiritual solution ... to find sane and happy and useful lives. I am so lucky not to be stuffing my face with food at this very moment, living in blindness and pain. I had much rather work with my higher power, whatever shape he/she/it takes, than stuff food in my mouth. And hp doesn't even beat me up for being human.

As it says in the OA step book:

As we gain new humility and ever greater freedom from our character defects, [i.e. they no longer own me and blindside me] God's power flows more surely and freely through us, bringing healing to others as well as ourselves, and drawing to us all the things we once fought so hard to attain: self-esteem, a feeling of usefulness, joy, strength to surmount difficulties, fellowship, and love.

We find that God does for us what we could never do for ourselves. (65-66).

For a last question for journaling, I invite anyone who'd like to to just meditatively express their conscious contact with hp and the program in the process of working the step:

HUMBLY ASKED HIM TO REMOVE OUR SHORTCOMINGS.

I like to think of each word, of the what I was like, what happened, what I am like now, of my motives, and of awareness, acceptance, action.

There is a conclusion to step seven shared in many meetings called the step seven prayer (from the Big Book). My Big Book is in another state so I'm paraphrasing -- maybe someone would be willing to or like to share the exact wording of the step seven prayer:

My creator, I now give you all of my self to do with as you will and go out from here to do your bidding.

Thank you to anyone who can provide this service; someone already shared it once on the loop but with my current email situation I can't store the messages so I'd be very grateful to be added to.

With love, humility, and esh

Karen


Up
Return to the top


Step Navigator:

Previous Step
Step Six
Up
Index
Next Step
Step Eight

 

Flowers

WTS Recovery E-mail
Copyright © 1998, The RECOVERY Group