Step Seven

Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

My Dearest Companions on the Journey of Recovery,

We are now halfway through the path of this Step Study. (But simply on the road of our journey of recovery!) A heartfelt thanks to all who are persevering and sending in shares. I know your thoughtful reflections will help others in recovery. I always maintain that we have something to learn from each member of our fellowship, from the newcomer with 30 seconds of abstinence to the old timer with 123 years! I have learned so much from reading your shares.

Step 7 - Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

Now that you have identified you character defects and their redeemed counterparts, you are ready to place them in the loving embrace of your Higher Power and humbly ask for them to be removed. The heart of Step Seven is found in the Seventh Step Prayer on page 76 of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. (4th Ed, 2nd paragraph).

In order to understand the essence of this prayer, let’s unwrap it by sections.

My Creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad.

The principle behind Step 7 is humility. This word is derived from the Latin humus which means earth. When we are humble, we are being true to the roots of who we really are. Offering our whole selves to HP, good and bad, is accepting the beautiful creation of HP that comprises each of us. Teresa of Avila said, “Humility is walking in the truth of who we are.”

Acceptance of our whole being must come before change is possible. I have never been motivated to change through criticism, judgment, and rejection, whether it comes from others or from within. In the face of these attitudes, I either withdraw or rebel. “A lot of nerve______has! I’ll show her (him)!” What animates my transformation is care, compassion, understanding, acceptance, and love from myself, others, and HP. I am then willing to allow HP’s salvific action to work in me.

I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character…

This phrase invites us to open our character defects to the care and compassion of a loving HP. Patience is an integral component of humility. Shortcomings have been honed and perfected for a lifetime and do not waft away like vapor from boiling pot. We must allow transformation in God’s time. I’ve always been frustrated with God’s time, which is almost never MY TIME. (Between 16 seconds and last week!) But HP places circumstances in my life which help me to polish my impatience into brilliantly glowing serenity. We must be willing to have our character defects removed and to take any action required of us. Awareness of the action that is called for comes through prayer, meditation, and attentiveness to life.

…which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows.

For whom is the grace-filled gift of the removal of my shortcomings? For me and my wholeness, certainly, but if it stops there, I am sure to have my face in the platter again soon. We walk the journey of healing and wholeness in order to be more fit instruments in the hands of HP. My defects of character block my effectiveness in relating to and supporting others. We can begin to contribute to the beauty and value of life rather than siphoning away its vitality or simply taking up space, amoeba-like. Working the 12 Steps has made me so much more present, emotionally available, other-oriented, and God-centered in my relationships and in my ministries.

Grant me strength as I go out from here to do your bidding.

The 12 Steps and Twelve Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous suggests that, “The basic ingredient of all humility is a desire to seek and do God’s will.” We discover the will of HP and receive the strength to carry it out once again through prayer, meditation, and attentiveness to life. The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous refers to a working partnership between me and HP. I love that!! I open myself and surrender my will and my life to HP in prayer. In turn, HP speaks to me in a myriad of ways, calling me to use my gifts and talents to enhance my small corner of the world. I humbly ask for HP’s support and assistance for the removal of all that prevents me from carrying out my mission and the strength, wisdom, and fortitude to complete it. HP grants me these invaluable gifts and labors through me in the world.

This process is a precious treasure. Since beginning recovery, I have experienced it in love and detachment in relationships as well as presence, caring, and effectiveness with others in my ministries. Of course, not all of my character defects have been permanently erased. Some return and often new ones emerge. (How fair is THAT??!!)

I have a passel of cousins on my mom’s side of the family who are farmers. Every spring before planting, they have to participate in the despised, back-breaking, and much-bemoaned activity of rock-picking. This involves clearing the fields of rocks which would prevent the blossoming and growth of the crops. They work strenuously to create a rock free field ready for nurturing the development of a superior harvest. Then the following year, more rocks would emerge from beneath the earth’s surface. Ugh!

Our defects of character are like that. In working the 7th Step, we do our part in clearing the field. Then HP’s redemptive action will allow our emerging selves to blossom. It is a lifetime cycle of surrender, action, and transformation, one day at a time.


Questions for Reflection and Sharing

  1. What is my definition of humility?
  2. Am I willing to accept all of who I am and offer myself to HP? Please explain.
  3. How patient am I willing to be in the removal of my character defects?
  4. For whom is the grace-filled gift of the removal of my shortcomings?
  5. How do I discover and recognize God’s will?

Suggested Readings

  1. Alcoholics Anonymous (Big Book, 4th Ed.) Page 76, 2nd paragraph

  2. The 12 Steps and 12 Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous - Step 7

  3. The 12 Steps and 12 Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous - Step 7

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