Being the seventh month, we often focus on the seventh step: Humbly asked Him to remove all our shortcomings. The principle of this step is humility.
Humble, as an adjective is defined as meekness, lacking pride, arrogance or assertiveness. As a verb it is defined as the destroying the power, independence or prestige of something or someone. I believe that in being humble we accept that we are not all powerful, not completely independent nor do we possess advantage over others. It is being in a state of acceptance of what is, and not what was or could be. I don’t compare myself to others as being better, or worse. I see things as they are. Like the inventory I took in Step Four, I look at what is there, without judgement as to its quality. I don’t need to be supersized; that’s been my problem. I need to be ‘right-sized’.
Last year, after being in the program for several years it became apparent to me that I could use a bit, no, a lot more work on Steps Six and Seven. I worked with my sponsor, used the book: Drop the Rock, published by Hazelden along with my program literature. During my first go around with the steps I had spent about as much time on these two steps as Bill Wilson did in writing about them in the two short paragraphs on page 76 of Alcoholics Anonymous: ‘I am willing. Here they are. Please take them away.’ The second time around truly was an eye opener for me. What does it mean to humbly ask my Higher Power to remove my shortcomings?
I have come to discover that it means taking step three to a whole new level. Not only do I put my will and my life into the care of my higher power, I now allow that Higher Power to modify me in such a way that I must let go of what I know about who I am today. A lot of my character defects made up who I was. I was a perfectionist who would rather do it myself than watch someone else do it wrong. (And then I would have to do it over to do it right.) I had an arrogance about me because I had studied hard and have two post secondary degrees and one diploma. I suffered because others didn’t understand my importance. I had a sense of entitlement: I worked hard so I deserved my time to relax however I wished. I could go on, but you get the picture. These shortcomings were who I was, part of my personality. On my second time through these two steps I found out what the verb humble meant in my life; if I was truly going to have these shortcomings removed, I had to destroy them. The ‘me’ at the end of the experience would be very different from the ‘me’ I started as.
You see, I kind of liked who I was, what I did, where I was in life. I don’t like a lot of change. My character defects were defining me, telling me who I was, where I should be, how I should act and react. Without them I feared that I might become the proverbial ‘hole in the donut’. I had a big fight with Ego about that!
Humility in Step Seven takes courage. It isn’t easy to say: “Okay H.P., here I am, take away who and what I always thought I was and remake me”. I needed to trust that my Higher Power knows what he’s doing. I had to accept what is and what will come. Could I have handled this in early recovery the first time I did this step? I don’t know. It was difficult enough with five years behind me. The difference this time though, is that I had evidence that my life really is in the care of a Higher Power. I knew and could point out how I had changed for the better. I was no longer the sorry soul that walked into a meeting for the first time. I am light years away from that Tim. I am now able to understand that I still have a lot to learn about life.
Fortunately, when I completed Step Seven, my H.P. didn’t remove those defects of character right away and all at once. This is a process that takes time. Every once in a while the perfectionist gives his opinion about how things should be done. Periodically the arrogant S.O.B. walks past the addict sleeping on the street without compassion. Yes, I take my shortcomings back with regularity. I am grateful though, that slowly I am recognizing them as they are showing themselves. I am learning to listen to another’s method of doing a task. I can look on with love at someone who on a different journey than I am now. Slowly my Higher Power is doing for me what I could not do for myself: grow and blossom into a whole new being.
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