Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The Twelve Steps & Jesus: Steps 6 through 9

Click here for post on Steps 1 through 5

Previously we talked about steps 1 through 5, about how we want to admit our powerlessness over the drugs and alcohol, and that paradoxically because of that surrender we are then able by God’s grace to come to believe that God can free us from the mentality of addiction and commit our lives to serving and obeying God. Those are steps 1 through 3

Then importantly we talked about the fourth and fifth step, about the importance of being free from the baggage of the past, by putting it all down on paper, and then sharing it with a trusted friend or sponsor. When we did that, we felt the weight of the past lifted from our shoulders, and the sunlight of God’s spirit come into our hearts and lives.

Now we consider steps 6 through 9.

Step 6 says: “We Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.”

Step 6 is simply recognizing our former ways of living life, that didn’t work. Selfishness, anger, self-pity, being inconsiderate of others, those ways of living our lives failed us. They landed us here. So we recognize that we’ve got some defects of character, and we become willing for God to remove them. That’s the hard part, is becoming willing. Because pride wants to get in the way. But we have to humble ourselves and overcome that pride if we want to get well. Which leads us to step 7.

And Step 7 says: “We Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.”

So if we’ve recognized our character defects, mine was always fear, selfishness, and self-seeking, pride, ego, and manipulation. I always tried to play the game to make things go my way, and then they wouldn’t go my way, and then I’d flip out. Recognizing that stuff in myself was very, very hard.

Even today I can struggle with pride, and ego, when it should be all about Jesus, sometimes I make it about myself. And that’s not acceptable if I want to stay well. We have to recognize these things in ourselves. And once we do, then we take them to God. Because we can’t remove these defects of character. Only God can.

So then we ask God to remove them. Usually people will pray this prayer: "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. Amen."

Then we watch for opportunities to live differently. And each day we consider how we’ve lived at the end of the day, taking an inventory of our day, to see if we lived as the new man, or if we slipped back into old ways of thinking. We continue that process, in prayer, and in taking action and over time God removes all our character defects and makes us like Jesus.

If steps 4,5,6, and 7 are about getting right inside ourselves, then steps 8 and 9 are about getting right with the people around us.

Step 8 says: “Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.”

So if we’ve done our 4th and 5th steps, we have the list of the people we’ve harmed already. If not, then it’s pretty simple to point out who we’ve hurt. For me it was mom, dad, my sister, my grandparents, several close friends, and a few bosses and coworkers. We make a list of how we hurt these people, and we become willing to make things right.

Step 9 says: “Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.”

It’s pretty simple, but not easy. We go to the person we hurt, for me, we’ll take the example of my dad. I went to my dad. And now, from my perspective, my dad has hurt me far worse than I ever hurt him. There’s things I won’t go into right now, but it was difficult to come humbly to my dad and apologize for what I did. Because I would prefer to hear apologies from him.

But that’s not the purpose of the 9th step. It’s about cleaning up our side of the street. They may leave their side of the street dirty, but that’s not our problem. Never, ever, ever, when your doing an amends, never ever bring up anything they did wrong. Your there to clean up your side of the street. You can’t control what they do.

So like with my dad, I talked about how I stole from him, used him for money, manipulated him, and hurt our relationship. I didn’t bring up the divorce, or the fights we had, because its about my cleaning up my mess. And I apologized. I told my dad I was wrong, asked for forgiveness, and I also asked how I could make it right. Part of that was agreeing to regularly spend time with my dad, and call him. That’s what he wanted as part of the amends. We do that again and again with people we’ve hurt, and its interesting, you know the promises that they read in AA? Those are in the big book right after the 8th and 9th step. And the promises say “by the time we are halfway through we will know a new freedom.” And people always wonder: “halfway through what?” If they’d read the big book, it means halfway through their 9th step amends!

So in conclusion, work the steps in order. I’m still available to help anyone who wants to work on their 4th and 5th step. I’ve had two residents talk to me about that, and I’m still willing to help anyone with that. So come see me. I’ll also help you with the character defects portion or help with making the list of amends.

Do this process, just do it. Do it with a good sponsor. And you’ll see big changes in your life, and this will provide the foundation for a lifetime of recovery.