Step Six Essay
Sixth Step Prayer
I am ready for Your help
in removing from me the defects of character
which I now realize are an obstacle to my recovery.
Help me to continue being honest with myself &
guide me toward spiritual & mental health.
Save me O, Lord, but not just yet. So goes the prayer of a certain young man who was enjoying his wild oats too much.
How often have we really offered some similar prayer, and expected a miracle that required nothing of us. We wanted to lose weight without any effort. We wanted to stop losing our tempers, but at the snap of a finger. And so on.
Until we are entirely ready for God to do the miracle, until we have turned everything over to God, and ask for nothing except that Godís will be done, then we are still trying to control. And it wonít work.
In classical antiquity, about which I know more than is good for a human to know, there were two understandings, one of magic, and one of miracle. They believed very much in both. We are too sophisticated, perhaps, to believe in love potions or incantations that change things overnight, but we are still very much into magical thinking that wants God to just "do it and be done with it." This is typical of the addictive personality. I know. Iím one.
The other kind of understanding is that there is a kind of divine force in the cosmos that blows in directions of health and happiness. Perhaps it is the wind the angels ride. But it is also a force with which we can align our lives. It is the energy of light, the power of the cosmos. For some of us, it is what we believe God does. But we have to place ourselves in that situation before the miracles will begin to happen in our lives.
The Sixth Step seems a bit of a simplification. Why canít Six and Seven just be combined? Well, the answer is, that the Sixth Step is saying we have some footwork to do before we can ask God to remove our defects of character.
For one thing, we have to be willing to let go of the results. God, please replace my financial stupidity with the ability to make money. I have no doubt God will meet my needs, and that whatever legitimate need I may have that requires money will find the money at that precise time. But how often has what we are really saying been, God give me enough money so I can waste it as I please, and not get into a credit crunch. This is magical thinking, and it is not readiness to have God remove our character defects. Perhaps God wants me to learn how to be happy and content with what I already have, and stop acting stupidly with it. I cannot control the results, anymore that I can control my own eating. I have to let go of both.
But there is the need or obligation to put myself in the places where the energy is present to me. I have learned that the energy is present (God is present, working my recovery in me) in a meeting and not in a fast food mall food court. I have learned that in working the Steps, I am doing a program that enables me to find this energy within me. It has always been there, available, but I did not want to do the footwork. I just wanted a magic wand.
So I have to place myself in the sacred space if I want to let the sacred energy remove my character defects. And I have to let go of the results ≠ the results will be what my Higher Power wants, and that will be better for me than anything I might desire or pray for out of my own addictive imagination.
No, the Sixth Step is very important on its own. It is a distinct Step from Step Seven, and one which we must work with diligence for its own sake.
STEP SIX ~ QUESTIONS
You may well have been aware of some of your character defects. Others may come as something of a surprise. In any case, look over your list, and determine whether you believe you have described yourself accurately. Remember that many people list their good characteristics as well as their bad ones. Both are you ≠ but for now, we will deal with the ones that need to be removed.
1. Have you ever tried magical thinking about any of you defects? Are there any examples you could share on this. Details of the defects are not necessary.
2. Can you now go back over your list and determine whether you are still looking for a magical solution to any of your defects of character?
3. Character is the sum of all the habits we have learned in our lives. These habits play an often significant role in the way we deal with life, with others, ourselves, even God. They become unconscious, quite often. Have you discovered things about yourself that you did not know before this time? Without having to give details on the loop, can you see where any of the patterns of living may have come from? Are they serving you well now, or poorly? If they do not serve you well, are you truly ready to get rid of them?
4. Addiction is a habit that has become insane. Do you find any other habits that appear to be insane? Are they addictions or compulsions of some kind?
An aside: Someone once sent out notices that they wanted to start a Clutterers Anonymous. The first meeting drew a good-sized crown of interested people. There were no further meetings, however, when it was discovered that everyone present was already a member of Overeaters Anonymous. Besides this, how is your credit card balance?
5. If we cannot rid ourselves of these habits alone, we must trust that there is power in the universe to that can help us effectively. There is one interesting thing about abstinence. Beginners are encouraged to make ninety meetings in ninety days at the beginning. When we are at a meeting, we are surrounded by program. We find people living a new life in recovery sharing their experience, strength, and hope. And it is not permitted during the time of the meeting that we eat! AA tells new members that it is well not to associate with their old drinking buddies or to hang out in bars. Forming friendships with healthy associates and living in healthy places is also essential. Last week I went food shopping. I had a list of foods, based on the food plans of those living in the household. My resolve is that I will not enter a grocery or food establishment again until shopping day this week. (This does not include planned restaurant meals.) Yesterday, my wife made homemade whatevers to serve at dinner. Some of our kids were coming. They all had a desert of the whatevers a la mode. I had a pear and cheese. Only once, way back when, did I have to say, what part of no is it that you donít understand. There was no pressure after that, whenever I said no. When taking a long trip, and having to eat out a lot, I always plan what I will eat, and usually take along a picnic basket of healthy foods. The question is, to what lengths are you ready to go to get rid of these bad habits that keep you in the food? Or, to what lengths have you gone to stay out of it?
6. Do you still believe you can manage it by yourself? Are you willing to let go and let God with your entire life? Do you sincerely believe that you cannot change your character without help from sources greater than yourself? Are you willing to wait for this to happen miraculously but not magically.
Expect miracles. They are the normal way of life.