STEP SIX

Were entirely ready to have God
remove all these defects of character.







Essay

Hello my friends, my name is Isabella and I am eternally grateful for program because Iím a compulsive overeater and food addict and this program brings me recovery. And I couldnít be here without you, so I thank each and every person who is reading this.

This week weíll do steps 6 and 7

***

Step 6

Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

Step 7

Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

***

When I was looking through my OA 12x12, I saw so many underlined passages that I think what Iíll do this time is to start by a "readers digest" of these two steps ≠ simply a bunch of wonderful words from the OA 12x12 strung together:

(Step 6)

"Go ahead, God!" we say. "Iím entirely ready." Then we swear off the old self destructive behaviours, only to find ourselves right back in their grip within a short time. "I KNOW better than this!" we berate ourselves ...

We admit that our old ways ... have caused pain and we want to let go of them. But how WILL we act? In honestly facing step 6, we confront the fear that our defects are like threads woven into the very fabric of our being; if God removes them we feel weíll surely become unraveled ...

Some of our defects are not only familiar and comfortable to us; theyíre also enjoyable ...

The sixth step calls for us to be ENTIRELY ready to have God remove ALL our defects of character ...

Some of us misunderstand this step and act as if itís up to us to remove our own shortcomings ...

We are powerless of each of our defects of character ...

Being entirely ready means that we firmly turn our backs on the old self-destructive behaviours and make every effort to act and live by the principles embodied in the twelve steps ...

We canít expect to be free of all our character defects overnight. What we are asked to do in step six is to become entirely ready for this miracle ...

When we work step six, we dedicate ourselves to a lifetime of growth and change ...

We donít set the timetable or method for these changes ...

We might begin to do this by submitting each defect to close scrutiny ... what it is doing FOR us as well as what it is doing TO us ... we look at the harm it is doing us to cling to each of these ways of thinking and acting ..."


(Step 7)

"Step seven is simple; all we have to do is say a prayer ...

Humility is simply an awareness of who we really are today and a willingness to become all that we can be. Genuine humility brings an end to the feelings of inadequacy, the self-absorption and the status-seeking. Humility, as we encounter it in our OA fellowship, places us neither above nor below other people on some imagined ladder of worth. It places us exactly where we belong, on an equal footing with our fellow beings and in harmony with God ...

Before we can ask for these changes with genuine humility, however, there are several concepts which it will be helpful to us to understand.

First, we are not asking God to remove our shortcomings so that we can be better than other people.

Second, it often happens that a shortcoming isnít removed immediately ... If we are surprised, shocked, deflated, or discouraged when a defect returns, we lack humility ... real humility about our character defects carries with it ACCEPTANCE ...

This kind of humility is not something we can lay hold of simply by willing ourselves to be humble. Humility is a gift ...

We fully acknowledge and accept the shortcomings as belonging to us ...

From now on, we cease telling ourselves we are always going to be dishonest, selfish, abusive, stupid, or bad people ...

We might see that some of our shortcomings are simply misapplied character traits."

*****

Okay people, thisíll be the one and only time Iíll throw so many OA 12x12 quotes at you. But what can I say, they just wrote it so well!

Let me add my ESH, in random order.

Iíll never forget the first time I heard step 7 read at a meeting. I couldnít believe what it said about humility. To me, too much emphasis on humility made me think of stooping low, acting like a doormat, accepting crumbs, feeling unworthy. And yet, there were people in that meeting who talked about their own humility with their head held high.

"No more, no less" ≠ thatís one of my favourite sayings now. I am equal. You are equal. The guy on the street corner whoís asking for change is equal to me. The prime minister is equal to me.

Thatís what humility brings me. Mind you, Iím not quite there yet. I notice how itís much easier for me to be assertive towards certain people rather than others, and I know that a lack of humility is at the root of this.

But ever since that meeting five years ago, humility is a value that I strive for. I am willing to walk towards, to change towards humility.

Other things I find really difficult to be willing to change. Recently, for example, Iíve discovered that I need quite a bit more structure in my life than Iíd like to. Iím teed off at that, teed off at the very idea of more structure, and teed off at me not complying with that self image Iíd like to have of myself. The one where I can get tons of things done without having to bother with too much discipline, schedules, etc.

You hear the self will here? The will of my little ego-self, the one that really doesnít have such a great track record.

Thatís where something really important comes in: Willing to be willing. It's one of the best program ideas because itís pretty much fail proof ("it's as easy as falling off a log," says my sponsor). Youíre not willing? Ok ≠ are you willing to be willing? No? How about willing to be willing to be willing?

I have yet to meet anyone in program who isnít able to say "yes!" to one of these chains of willingness. Sometimes we need to go back a few links of this chain but thatís alright. Need to start at willing to be willing to be willing to be willing to be willing? Fine.

The magic of this is that this means that our character defects arenít endless. Just as the eating doesnít have to be endless.

So Iím willing to be willing to look at this structure thing. Iím willing to be willing to let go of my resentment and irritation around this. I can almost picture my Higher Powers smiling at me, gently, patient, and amused: "Take your time, Isabella, and donít worry, weíll get around to this sooner or later."

WEíll get around to this. Because I canít do it myself. Steps 6 and 7 do not say, "We each remove our own shortcomings." Sometimes I think that we have two steps here simply so that the idea that we canít do this ourselves really gets imprinted in our minds.

The "we" part here is that itís our job to be willing and ready and to ask for help. Itís HPís job to make the actual removal happen.

How does the removal happen? So many ways. Sometimes HP involves us in heavy work around this, sometimes we wake up one day and the darn thing is gone.

One of the character defects I had put on an inventory a while ago was "I resent myself because I do not connect enough with HP."

Whereíd that one go? I donít know. I certainly wouldnít put that on my list anymore. HP has removed it, at least for now.

Another was not spending enough time with my youngest offspring, and the guilt that resulted from it. That one I had to work on a lot, including telling my HP that I was ready to look into whatever it was in my own childhood that made it so difficult for me to enjoy that part of being a parent. This, too, has gotten much better but it wasnít one of those, "oops, what happened to it?" experiences. HP made me work on it.

One way of looking at character defects in step 6 is to take the advice mentioned above: "What it is doing FOR us as well; what is it doing TO us, what is the harm of clinging to it?" I also like to add the question, "what is this doing TO those around me?" I did one step study where I subjected each character defect to this scrutiny and found it very helpful.

Here is an example from that step study:

Character defect: thinking about myself. Oh, how I like to think about myself. My needs, my wants, my ideas, my dreams, etc. My pain is so much clearer to me than othersí. My journal is full of me, me, me (and I feel guilty about that). I spend more time and am way more interested in figuring out solutions for me than for my family.

What is it doing for me? At least SOMEONE roots for me. Plus it is familiar and comfortable.

What is it doing to me? Hm. I donít know. Guilt.

What is it doing to others? Subtracts me from them. I could use some of this energy to think about THEM. Use my creativity for THEM.

What is the harm of clinging to it? My family feeling sad because I donít spend enough energy on them. My heart being clouded by me, me, me.

And a last thought on removal. Makes me think of garbage removal. But tell me ≠ do you actually throw all your refuse into the garbage? I donít. I have a garden, and all the organic waste goes into the compost bin. Compost is amazing. Rotten apples, potato peels, coffee grinds, the sadly dilapidated pumpkin from Halloweíen ≠ they all go to the compost. There they sit and look ugly and get all crawled about by beetles, fruit flies and earthworms. And then ... a few months later it all turns into the most beautiful, black, fertile earth.

Thatís what I can do with my character defects. I can give it over to my Higher Power and HP knows what to do with them. HP doesnít discard them on the landfill, HP takes them, decomposes them, and turns them into something beautiful and useful.

In fact, thatís what we do here at OA. "It is weakness not strength that binds us together." HP has turned our own individual weaknesses of being overeaters, anorexics and bulimics into the beautiful fellowship at OA.

Before we close, let me take one of my favourite passages, the end of step 6, and turn it into a prayer:

"HP, with your help, I no longer go through life desperately clinging to the past, resistant to change. I strive to keep myself entirely ready for any transformations you want to bring about in me. With your help, I cannot fail. Please make me saner, wiser, and more effective as I recover from this disease. I trust that you will help me through good times and bad, learning and growing spiritually from each experience, as you intended me all along."





QUESTIONS TO PONDER

What passages in the chapters on steps 6 and 7 in the OA 12x12 stand out for you?

Can you get out of your own way and let your Higher Power do the magic of removing and transforming your character defects? If you find that difficult, please share about that, too.

Are there some character defects that youíd rather keep around a bit longer, thank you very much? What can you and your Higher Power do about that?

What is your experience around the difference between humility and humiliation?

Try this out on one of your character defects:
What is it doing for me?
What is it doing to me?
What is it doing to others?
What is the harm of clinging to it?

How might your character defects be transformed into something useful?

Is there something that you're not willing to deal with yet but can see your way to be willing to be willing, or willing to be willing to be willing?

What footwork will you do within the next 24 hours?





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