Saturday, December 06, 2008

Sixth Step musings

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

Sixth Step Prayer: "God help me become willing to let go of all the things to which I still cling. Help me to be ready to let You remove all of these defects, that Your will and purpose may take their place."

I've been doing what I call a literature review on the Sixth Step this week. A literature review means I read from a variety of different texts the Sixth Step chapter. I am reading the step in the SLAA, SAA and SA texts, AA's Twelve Steps and 12 Traditions, and will search out a couple of daily reader readings on the step. I may even read from Paths to Recovery, an Al-Anon recovery book, and do some web searches for others who have written about the Sixth Step. As I read, I take notes on what stands out to me and write down any thoughts or questions I have.

This may seem a little excessive, but I find that my Higher Power has messages for me hidden everywhere, if I search for them.

What I find as I am reading through the literature is that my heart really is in Step 6. Occassionally, I've found myself working on one step in deed, while feeling my heart working on another (usually Step 3). I'm glad that my heart and mind are in sync now as I do the legwork toward completing this round of Step 6.

I've been pretty scared at the prospect of giving up dishonesty, and as I've shared before gluttony (by way of compulsive overeating). That seems ludicrous I know, to want to hold on to things that have hurt me. But as the SAA text says there's a big difference in wanting relief from the disease of addiction and wanting to let go of the old familiar ways of behavior. Both my overweight body and my lies have offered a veil of protection, at least to my addict's mind. They have both caused a lot of pain, as have the other character defects such as -- avoiding responsibility, living in fear -- which results in crippling perfectionism and isolation -- and ego-driven behaviors. (There's more, this is just where I'm focusing right now.)

So, for some time, after completing the Fifth Step, I have been praying around dishonesty, asking God for the willingness to have it removed from my character. I have seen my spirit shift from absolute fear at the prospect of being required to tell the truth as often as I can, to live an honest life, where there is no "alter ego," and abandoning my lies, to a willingness to let God do his work in my life. As far as I'm concerned, he's got a mighty big project turning me into a truthful, honest, whole person whose life is transparent, but I'll leave that up to him.

One of the things I read in the SAA text was that for every character defect, there is a character asset and that in order to prepare our hearts for the defect to be removed, we should begin to practice the character asset. That made a lot of sense to me. I am thankful this step calls on me to leave it up to my Higher Power to remove my defects. I am not able to remove them myself. But as the SLAA text says, "It was enough that we be willing to do the legwork, and be open-minded about what the end result would be. God's grace would give us freedom from the burden of our old self. In humility, we understood that we were only being asked to get out of God's way, so that, with our cooperation, God's work could be done in our lives."

Apart from that wonderful news that I just have to be willing to do the work, the most helpful message I've read thus far also came from the SLAA text, explaining that in working Steps 1-5 we addicts are walking away from the disease of sex and love addiction. Step 6, it says, is where the rebuilding of our lives begins. I felt such hope in reading that.

I also loved this passage from the SLAA text, "We came to understand that sex and love addiction appears to be a disease of actions when viewed from without, but is really a perversion of moral and ethical values as experienced from within. The spiritual dimensions of our dis-ease were now clear." As Don Henley says, "I've been tryin' to get down to the heart of the matter." I think I've found it, here in Step Six.

1 comment:

vicariousrising said...

I still feel like there are defects of mine that serve to protect me in some ways that I find hard to want to let go. But in the long run, I know I will be better for relinquishing them and finding healthier ways to cope.