Step Seven

Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.



STEP SEVEN ~ INTRODUCTION

Seventh Step Prayer

My Higher Power,
I am now willing that you should have all of me, good & bad.
I pray that you now remove from me every
single defect of character which stands in the way
of my usefulness to you & my fellows.
Grant me strength, as I go out from here to do Your bidding.

Well, we said back in Step Three that we had made a decision to turn our lives over to the care of God (GOMU). If you have come this far with me, you have certainly been willing to let go and let God.

There are three problems with Step Seven, as I see it.

1. In Step Three we made a commitment. But commitments are easily broken. How many of us have decided to work the program and then slipped or relapsed? People make commitments to each other, and one or both donít keep it, and their relationship fails. In the process of staying with a commitment, we have to change. Some change just happens. The beauty we perceive in youth fades as we grow old. Something else must replace it. Charm and wit come to mind. But if we have charm and wit when we are old, it is because we formed the habit of being charming and witty as we went along. Charm and wit are aspects of character. In this case, they are strengths of character, not defects. Character is the ingrained habits of our lives, or the sum of them. All of have character. It takes a powerful commitment to change our character.

2. But now we need to do so if we are to have recovery. Let us not forget that recovery is to live in such a way that we do not need our addiction anymore. When we make significant change to our character, we find that the reliance we once had on food or compulsive eating is no longer the result of the slavery of addiction in which we have lived. It is said that many people in long time recovery find that the food compulsion simply disappears as long as they continue to work the program. The Big Book of AA refers to alcoholics who have reached this condition as "recovered". This does not mean they can safely leave the program, it just means that the urge to drink is gone, as long as they work the program. We donít graduate, but we can become adept. Getting to this place, however, is a long term commitment to abstinence and the program. While the process will take some years, however, even those who stick with program for a year or more begin to find that this condition applies some of the time. Maybe a day here, or a day there. This means that we really have to let go and let God if we are to recover. The spiritual high at the end of Step Three, if not followed by more active program leads to fat serenity, not recovery.

3. We have to change, and we canít be in control of the process. It is hard to change, but it is harder still to let someone else (even God) have control over the process while we stand out of the way. That is why Step Six is in the list! But now the time has come to act on our resolve.

So we come to God with a right assessment of ourselves, knowing what our place is, and being willing to stay in it. That is what humility is. It is not eating dust. Being humble is the source of a good pride, one that is not hubris (the bad kind of pride). When I know where I stand with God, I can begin to discern what wonderful things God has in mind for me, beginning with my own existence. And I come to know I am worthy of them, because God has given me all these blessings. But for now, I am going to have to be humble in another way. I have to let go of the bad stuff, and let God remove it. The picture that comes to my mind is that I have a cancerous growth, an addiction, that left alone will drag me through ill health and then kill me if something isnít done. Some kind of surgery has got to take place. Now if we were speaking of a physical condition, we would see at once that it would be absurd and even insane if we thought to remove the growth by ourselves. We would want to have the best surgeon we could find to do the operation. But when it comes to the spiritual overgrowths of character shortcomings, we seen to not to want to let the Great Surgeon even touch us! How strange, how insane is our behavior.

But that is a reasonably accurate picture of the situation. Letting go and letting God in Step Seven is going to cause us some pain. Surgery always does. But the choice becomes clear: we either change or die.

The good side, for me, when I was going through this Step in my earlier years, was that each change God wrought in me was accompanied by a sense of a new freedom and a great joy. In eleven years, God has done a lot with me, but God has not finished with me yet, either. I can testify, though, that my life has gotten better and better, there has been more joy and happiness, as a result of what has been done. This leads me to look forward to the rest with great anticipation, and largely without fear, especially compared to the beginning!

I am not a Marxist, but I will quote Marx: All you have to lose are your chains.

Love,
John





STEP SEVEN ~ QUESTIONS

1. If youíre like me, you prayed for years that God would remove your fat, but I know I simply got fatter. Why would we think that God can remove our shortcomings?

2. Can you see that all the Steps to this point have been your legwork in this situation?

3. What shortcomings are dearest to you? Can you let go of even these?

4. If God asks you to do something to help with this process, are you willing to do so? An example might be to stay in constant contact with God, or thinking about saying a prayer for help when fighting the urge to eat.

5. Generally, these bad habits are replaced with good ones. What do you think you might look like in terms of character if you were rid of some of your bad habits and had replaced them to at least some extent with good ones?

6. Are you willing to do the footwork to establish the good ones even as God is removing the bad ones? Look your list, and think about what you would need to do to form a good habit. I grew up in a family where a pro forma grace was said before meals. When my old sponsor told me to remember God before I took a bite, it took me a minute to see what he was driving at. But I soon found that even if I just thought of God before taking a bite, it generally ruined my compulsion rather completely. Since I had the compulsion almost all the time, I began to form the habit of simply living in Godís presence. I have changed to such an extent that almost all of the time, I open the refrigerator just to get the salad makings out for a regular meal!!! And I donít think about it at other times.

7. Even not thinking about one compulsion without making the positive changes can lead us to adopt another compulsion. How many of us are or ought to be members of AA, NA, SAA, DA, and so on? Are you in this category? Do you clutter? Most compulsive eaters do. Do you have depression? ≠ most of us do, did you know? Are you willing to seek treatment, or have you sought treatment for it? What would it mean to live without any controlling compulsions? How would it feel to live happy?

When I loved myself enough I no longer needed to say Amen. There is no need when you are never separated.
Anon.


Love,
John









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