I’m Penny, a compulsive eater and leader for this quarter’s WTS step study/workout.
Step 5: Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
Right up front, let me tell you that I love Step 6. I love the simplicity and the whole idea behind it.
Here’s what the Big Book says:
“We have emphasized willingness as being indispensable. Are we now ready to let God remove from us all the things which we have admitted are objectionable? Can He now take them all–every one? If we still cling to something we will not let go, we ask God to help us be willing.”
Alcoholics Anonymous World Service (2014-01-05). Alcoholics Anonymous (Kindle Locations 1438-1440).
I don’t have to do anything but get to a place where I can say to my Higher Power, “these are yours, these are your problems to remove.” It’s the spiritual equivalent of undergoing a medical procedure. If I have a problem that needs to be fixed, I’m quite clear that I can’t do anything about it on my own; I need to have a professional take care of it. Step 6 is the place where I get ready to make the appointment to have my problem removed; and my Higher Power is the doctor.
Step 6 is a spiritual equivalent of Steps 1 and 2. In Step 1, I admitted I was powerless over my obsession and that my life was unmanageable. In Step 2, I came to believe that while I couldn’t do anything about the obsession on my own, there was a greater power that I could tap into to restore me to sanity. It didn’t mean that I wasn’t responsible for what I ate, just that I didn’t have to rely on my own unsteady and unreliable self to give me the power to make the best choices. “All” I had to do was “admit” and “come to believe.”
Step 6 says that I am powerless over my character flaws. Just as in Step 1, I have these flaws, and “all” I have to do is be entirely ready for the power that I came to believe in in Step 2 could remove those flaws from my character palette. It doesn’t say that I’m not responsible for my actions; of course I am.
As I understand Step 6, there’s being ready and there’s being entirely ready.
I was ready to let go of some of my more obvious defects of character: dishonesty, selfishness, and arrogance. I knew from my 4th and 5th steps that they were wreaking havoc on my life, making me miserable and impacting relationships. Those were easy. If God wanted to remove those flaws, well, I was certainly willing to let God do it.
But there were flaws that I kind of enjoyed.
There were ego issues; wallowing in the self-pity of low self-esteem meant that I didn’t have to take responsibility for my failures – I could claim I was hot-wired for them and that no one liked me and “it wasn’t my fault” when I messed up because I was a mess to begin with. There was a kind of power in that mentality, and I was loath to let it go.
There was the character defect of taking other peoples’ behavior personally: it meant that I could be the center of everyone’s universe and the universal victim, and that felt just fine because – perversely enough – it made me feel important.
Step 6 is one of the claiming “spiritual progress, not perfection” steps. If I’m not entirely ready yet to have God remove all my flaws, I work at it, praying for the willingness to be willing.
The action of step 6 is getting ready, and it’s a lifelong process.
Thoughts for discussion/journaling:
Thank you for the honor of leading this quarter!
- Can you identify with the medical personnel/procedure analogy to Step 6? Are there other analogies that work for you?
- What are some of your defects of character that you are entirely ready to have removed by your Higher Power?
- How come you think you’re entirely ready to have HP remove them?
- How come you think you’re not yet entirely ready to have HP remove them?
- What are some of those that you’re not yet entirely ready to have removed?
- What are you willing to do to get entirely ready?
The Twelve Steps