STEP SEVEN: At one with the world.
My name is Penny, and I am a compulsive eater and food addict and 2nd Quarter
Step 7 is pretty simple. " ... all we have to do is say a prayer requesting
that God take our shortcomings from us." (OA 12&12, p. 59) That should be
easy enough; after all, we are entirely read as the result of Step 6. And
really, I found Step 7 to be the easier of the two steps because Step 6 is
where I had to do most of the soul searching.
That being said, I think that like most OA's, my biggest hurdle was
overcoming Step 7's asking us "... to adopt an attitude of humility." (OA 12&12, p. 59) I fell into the trap of confusing humility with humiliation. I had
spent my life feeling humiliated, and no way was I going to do that anymore.
"Humility" reminded me of the shame I felt when I thought I was being
belittled and "put in my place." "Humility" meant "doormat."
I don't know how it happened, but in a hidden corner of my heart I realized
that while OA's steps were meant to be ego deflating in a good way, I
couldn't really believe that OA was asking me to go back to being the world's
victim and pushover. That just didn't sound like the healthfulness and
Godliness of the other steps. I was right.
"... humility is simply an awareness of who we really are today and a
willingness to become all that we can be." (OA 12&12, p. 60) Humility means
acknowledging my strengths *and* weaknesses. It means not having to apologize
for taking up space or air in this world. It means to be open and teachable.
Defining humility was like turning on a light bulb in the attic of my brain. I
had been either better than or worse than everyone. I compared and contrasted
myself with others; and I never came out equal. I always wanted other
peoples' talents, abilities, hair, body - even handwriting. My own were never
(a) enough, (b) as good as, and (c) as vaulable/needed as others'. I thought
I was humble because I was always putting myself down. I believed that my
believing I was inadequate was a hedge against disappointment and rejection;
I'd tell you how bad I was before you figured it out. I believed this made me
acceptable to others and admired for my lack of pushy and arrogant ego. In
fact, these beliefs were destroying my soul and my essence, making me ripe
for hurt feelings and being treated poorly. It wasn't humility; it was an ego
trap concocted by my diseased mind. Humility meant that constantly devaluing
myself and/or believing I was a failure and a disappointment was keeping me
"... in bondage to self and thus (making) it impossible for (me) to find true
humility." (OA 12&12, p. 59)
What an eye opener.
Why *are* we asking God - and why *humbly?*
We are asking God in order to act out our readiness gained in Step 6 and to
acknowledge again (just like in Step 6) that we are powerless to remove our
defects of character and need the help of a Higher Power. This doesn't mean
we can't change our behavior. If dishonesty is a flaw, we can behave honestly
- we cannot use powerlessness as an excuse to keep doing the same thing while
we wait for God to do God's thing. However, until God removes my inclination
towards dishonesty, I will struggle with the temptation.
Step 7 asks us to open ourselves to *God's* will for us - to stop struggling,
fighting or nudging/helping God. In other words, we accept our defects of
character as ours - we "own" them - and we acknowledge that we need God's
help in changing.
Why humbly? It's not to make us better than other people, more righteous or
pious. It's not even to get a better relationship with people, because Step 7
has little to do with our relationships. A better relationship will be a
by-product of Step 7, but for now, Step 7 is an "inside job."
The "humbly" in Step 7 is to make sure that we are "willing to let go of old
attitudes which block humility, such as low self-esteem, status-seeking and
self-righteousness." (OA 12&12, p. 62) The point of Step 7 is to "draw
closer to being the people God intends us to be ... so that we may be more
useful instruments of our Higher Power." (OA 12&12, p. 61)
In other words, we ask humbly so that our Higher Power can clean us up and
heal our wounded souls. This way we can truly know our value and worth,
rightfully claiming our share of the air and space, making no shame-laced
apologies for our assets or liabilities. We are at peace with ourselves.
The "how" of Step 7 is also pretty simple:
1. Say a prayer asking for "genuine humility." (OA 12&12, p. 62)
2. Trust "that our Higher Power will grant us the gift of humility to a
greater and greater degree, one day at a time, as we continue to let go of
our old values and practice the principles of the twelve steps." (OA 12&12,
p. 62) "We proceed with our step-seven prayer, secure in the knowledge that
we have done our part and God will do the rest." (OA 12&12, p. 62)
3. We look at each individual character defect (from our inventories), and we
ask God to remove it in God's time and in God's way.
4. We say our Step 7 prayer. It really doesn't matter what words we use as
long as we approach our Higher Power with an attitude of humility. I use the
prayer found in the Big Book: "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 (*PK note: I sometimes add " ... and myself."*) Grant me strength, as
I go out from here, to do your bidding. Amen." (AA Big Book, p. 76)
>From now on, we need to be willing to pay attention to the clues that our
Higher Power sends our way as to "which action we are to take as each defect
is removed." (OA 12&12, p. 63) Sometimes we aren't even aware that the
defect has been removed until we realize that we did something different from
what we might have done before.
We keep working Steps 6 and 7 for the rest of our lives. Defects we weren't
aware of may surface - old defects may pop up from time to time (remember my
Step 6 train-station-to-sponsor phone call?). We don't get crazed or
disappointed when a new or old defect arises; we just acknowledge it and work
Steps 6 and 7 again. We're not being made perfect, just human.
Thoughts for journaling/sharing:
1. Define humility. Why is it crucial to Step 7?
2. Do you believe that you can remove your character flaws by yourself or by
just acting differently? Please explain.
3. Following the suggested Step 7 action format, take Step 7 on each of your
4. What kinds of clues for future behavior do you think you might receive
from your Higher Power as God removes each defect?
See you in Step 8.
Yours in recovery,