LEADER'S SHARE ~ STEP SEVEN|
Hi, my name is Thumper and I'm a compulsive overeater. There I was, sitting on the banks of the Mississippi River, my list of character defects in hand. I'd just finished examining each defect or shortcoming at great length, putting one last effort into understanding why I had them and why I wanted to be rid of them. All that remained was to submit myself in prayer and ask my Higher Power to do with these shortcomings whatever it wished.
Fortunately, I had a sponsor well enough grounded in the Big Book and the 12 steps of recovery that I had no illusion that after taking this step I'd walk away completely free of these defects of character. I was a human being before taking this step, I was a human being during the taking of this step, and I was to remain a human being after taking the step. This means I would still be prone to making mistakes and errors in judgment, and that without a focus on working the remaining steps, I'd be sure to slide back into the old habits and the old ways of being.
Having come to believe though, I did know that if and when opportunities presented themselves, these character defects would not stand in the way of being able to help someone else. I had been a taker and a user all my life while simultaneously trying to portray myself as the victim and the martyr, but I was now at that point in my recovery where I would be making a conscious decision to begin a life that was centered on something other than myself. I had been the center of my universe for a long time and hadn't done a very good job of it. These defects of character that I thought had served me so well in the past had become my greatest enemy. They were what was responsible for keeping me in that chronic state of isolation and self-pity. As long as I held them to myself, I would forever remain in that place of aloneness, helpless to change this feeling that I was not and never would be a part of that mass we call humanity.
Not having mastered the art of prayer, I recited the Seventh Step prayer exactly as written in the Big Book. As I was reciting the prayer, a most remarkable thought occurred to me. That thought was that these shortcomings that I had carried with me were no longer liabilities, they were now some of my greatest assets! The thought was so clear to me. I knew that I would be able to use my experiences with each and every one of those character defects to in some way reach out to another, that these difficulties themselves and the subsequent humility they brought to my life would enable me to connect with people in ways that I could have never done without them. I now understood, almost intuitively, that there was a reason I had gone through life the way that I had.
With a sense of awe and gratitude, I completed the prayer, walked up to the water's edge, crumpled my list of character defects into a ball, and tossed them into the Mississippi River. I stood there for many long moments, watching that piece of paper being tossed about by the lapping waves and the swirling eddies of water as it was carried downstream.
Despite my sense of reverence for such a solemn moment, I couldn't resist the opportunity to find the sense of humor in what I was doing, so I whipped out my camera and took a picture of my character defects as they floated down the river! Now, whenever someone accuses me of displaying some less than admirable character trait, I smile and tell them that they must be mistaken, that my character defects are now somewhere in the Gulf of Mexico and that if they don't believe me, I have proof!  : )
I'm looking forward to hearing your stories of taking the seventh step!