Seventh Step Memo

July 18, 2009

Seventh Step Memo

Seventh Step Memo

Greetings, fellow trudgers “on the road to happy destiny.”

I was in a lively phone conversation yesterday, but in a state of exuberance and enthusiasm—excitement. I wasn’t present. A slip of the tongue, and the reaction was swift – a not-so-pleasant but helpful reminder that my sanity and serenity depends on my willingness to let go of more than just the negative stuff—compulsions, obsessions, neuroses, habitual bad behavior—I also have to give up some aspects of me I’m pretty attached to: like thinking fast, talking fast, approaching all of life with a lets-go, get-it-done attitude, instead of considering, listening—and just being.

In terms of twelve-step recovery, I used to think of Steps 4 and 9 as the tough ones, but the two short and rather innocent sounding Steps Six and Seven are, in my opinion, the ones where the rubber truly meets the road (or, as Bill Wilson wrote in the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, these “separate the men from the boys”).

One reason might be that, as I’ve heard, “there’s no help available other than perfect help.” I’m not being instructed to hand over alcoholism, addiction, or codependency, or ask a Higher Power to remove personality traits I may find temporarily unpleasant. As the saying goes, “God doesn’t need your alcohol, drugs or insanity.”

I take these steps to mean that if I want what the people who have recovered seem to have, I’m left with no option but to surrender my entire self and engage in this process fully and to the best of my ability, surrendering the whole shebang.

Happy trails!

PS  The Sixth Step reads “6. Were entirely ready to have God remove these defects of character.”

The Sixth Step Prayer reads: “Dear God, I am ready for Your help in removing from me the defects of character, which I now realize are an obstacle to my recovery. Help me to continue being honest with myself, and guide me toward spiritual and mental health.”

The Seventh Step reads “7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.”

The (actual) Seventh Step prayer reads: “My Creator, I am now 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 out from here, to do your bidding.”

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