Dear WTS Members:
As tired as I had become of my flaws, as painful as some of them were in my daily life--even after I had asked God to take all of my shortcomings away from me or to recreate them into something that could be more useful to myself and others, I felt the clinging effects of them as I "humbly ask God to remove them." It would take many times of working through the steps before I began to feel some relief from my flaws or before I began to notice that they were being changed into something positive.
When working Step 4 through 6, I found the Big Book Chapter 6, entitled: INTO ACTION, very helpful to me. (Note: The approximate 14th paragraph of this chapter, where it starts: "Now we need more action . . ." is actually the beginning commentary for how to work Step 8, yet it is still useful to us in this step). The first few beginning sentences sum up the purpose for working the steps:
"Having made our personal inventory, what shall we do about it? We have been trying to get a new attitude, a new relationship with our Creator, and to discover the obstacles in our path."
Approximately 11 paragraphs from the beginning of this chapter, the Big Book writer uses descriptive words, referring to the personal inventory that we have constructed as an "arch through which we shall walk a free man at last." The writer further asks us to rethink what we have written: Is our work solid so far? Are the stones properly in place? And so on.
The approximate 12th paragraph of this same chapter says that if we have considered the questions (above) that we are now ready to let God remove from us all the things which we have admitted are objectionable?
Those of us who still cling to some of our defects, though we are willing, we should ask God to help us increase our levels of willingness each time we work the steps so that we will continue to grow. I have had to ask God for continued willingness at all points during my step work because my thoughts are often scattered in many directions and step work does require a degree of focus.
QUESTIONS & SUGGESTED READING
1) How did you feel during the inventory when you listed your shortcomings? Did you find yourself making a short list or going the opposite extreme? Did you remember to make a list of your "character assets?"
2) Now you can begin to feel the impact of this prayer:
"MY CREATOR, I am 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. Grant me strength, as I go our from here, to do your bidding. Amen."
Share with us any thoughts or feelings about this prayer that ran through your mind as you read it.
3) Secrets and stuffing down events to the nethermost regions of our spirit will tend to keep us away from those that might help us to learn and grow. They even keep us away from the healthiest portion of our own will that could help us to initiate change. Thus, when our will awakens and looks to a "power greater than ourselves" growth occurs and we discover a new way of looking at others, ourselves, and our fellows.
Did you gain any insights from the sharing posted by other WTS members? Some ah-hah moments?
4) List some of the "shouldas, couldas, wouldas, that no longer work for you at this point in the step work, and tell us if you have been able to form any new beliefs, as discovered through your own personal writings.
5)Do you feel that God has removed your shortcomings?
SUGGESTED READING: The A.A. Big Book, Chapter 6, INTO ACTION. (The chapter recaps what we have learned about Step 4, 5, 6, leading into 7, even Step 8).