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Old 12-30-2014, 10:04 AM   #1
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Default Step Six

About Step 6

Step Six "is A.A.'s way of stating the best possible attitude one can take in order to make a beginning on this lifetime job. This does not mean that we expect all our character defects to be lifted out of us as the drive to drink was. A few of them may be, but with most of them we shall have to be content with patient improvement. The key words "entirely ready" underline the fact that we want to aim at the very best we know or can learn. . . Only Step One, where we made the 100 percent admission we were powerless over alcohol, can be practiced with absolute perfection. The remaining eleven Steps state perfect ideals. They are goals toward which we look, and the measuring sticks by which we estimate our progress. Seen in this light, Step Six is still difficult, but not at all impossible. The only urgent thing is that we make a beginning, and keep trying." [Anonymous, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, AA World Services, 1952]

"When we tried to clean ourselves up with our own power and "discipline" we kept ourselves agitated, confused, in denial, and worn out, and we were in almost constant emotional pain. We were like the man who tore the scab off his arm every morning to see if his wound had healed. But it was in doing the sixth Step that I saw why I had become so exhausted. I'd been trying to do God's part in the spiritual growth and healing process. In the program I was told that my part was "being entirely ready," being ready to let God be the controller and life-changer of myself and others. When I did that, my sponsor said, I would see how God's power is released to flow through our lives to clean them only when we quit trying to control the how and when he is to use that power. [Keith Miller, A Hunger for Healing, Harper, 1991]

"Some in recovery want to "clean up their act" before going to God. Like people who clean the house before the new maid arrives so that she will not see how they live, these people are ashamed of themselves and their life-styles and do not want God to see them as they are. . . These persons fail to realize how deeply God identifies with our humanness. God understands us because he became one of us as the human being, Jesus of Nazareth. He is personally and intimately familiar with the pains and difficulties of our lives in a fallen world. . . it is not necessary for us to "clean house" before taking all our defects of character to God." [Martin M Davis, The Gospel and The Twelve Steps, RPI Publications Inc., 1993]
Step 6: Related Biblical Themes

* Entirely ready. Isn't it obvious that we are ready for God to remove our defects of character? Unfortunately, no, it is not obvious. In Step Four we began the process of self-awareness of our hurtful behaviors, in Step Five we started telling the truth about them, and in Step Six we start facing the fact that we have become attached to these destructive behaviors. Getting ready to let go of them may not be easy. Defects of character are patterns of behavior that we have developed to protect and defend ourselves. Often they are patterns which allowed us to survive the difficult environments we experienced as children. Letting go of character defects can, therefore, feel like a threat to our survival.

For this reason, the process of becoming "entirely ready to have God remove all of our defects of character" will involve us in a major struggle. It will be helpful to anticipate some of what we might experience in this battle. Some defects, for example, will be more difficult to let go of than others. And letting go of any of our defects will involve us in grief work because we will experience their removal as a loss. It is also reasonable to expect that we will resist these changes at the same time as we want and seek them.

Take blame as an example. The tendency, common among addicts, to resort to blame at the first sign of danger to the ego probably worked, or at least seemed to work, for a long time. It intimidated other people. It ended conversations that might have been difficult for us. It allowed us to pretend that we were on some kind of high moral ground. We asserted our innocence and proclaimed the guilt of our adversaries. We are not to blame! We are not responsible! That's a huge payoff for a simple strategy that you can usually implement even when you are intoxicated! And it is very satisfying to the ego to be right all the time. Letting go of blame and similar defects of character will not be easy for us. Step Six allows us the time we need to recognize how attached we are to our character defects, to grieve over the possibility of loosing them and to prepare ourselves for God to do the spiritual and psychological surgery that will need to be done.

Step Six is rooted in the biblical conviction that we can become inappropriately attached, sometimes idolatrously attached, to our dysfunctions. As a result the most tenacious resistance to our recovery comes not from other people but from us! I am the person who resists my recovery the most. A brief caution to perfectionists: The use of the word 'entirely' in Step Six can become a problem. It is important to remember that the point of Step Six is not to become "perfectly" ready. You will miss the spiritual core of this Step if you become compulsively engaged in getting ready.

* To have God remove The actions of this step are to identify our defects of character, to acknowledge our attachments to them and to grieve the possibility of loosing them. But the power to which this Step points is God's ability to remove our defects of character. We get ready. But God does the work. Over time Step Six will become part of a life-style as we see more and more new ways in which we can become ready to let God do the work of recovery in us. But it is enough at this stage to become ready to let go of what we can see now. More will no doubt be revealed as the process continues.

* All these defects of character. The biblical text is full of metaphors that emphasize the comprehensiveness of God's plans for us. God's purposes are not to just make some minor adjustments to our lives. The plan includes major surgery:

"I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh." [Ezekiel 11:19]

The metaphor of a heart transplant is one way of emphasizing that the spiritual life is not about the surface of things. God's plans for us involve changes that go down to the core, to bedrock, to foundations. The process will be a long one. The journey is lifelong. But gradually we will see God working on all of our defects of character.
"No matter what you have done up to this moment, you get 24 brand-new hours to spend every single day." --Brian Tracy
AA gives us an opportunity to recreate ourselves, with God's help, one day at a time. --Rufus K.
When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on. --Franklin D. Roosevelt
We stay sober and clean together - one day at a time!
God says that each of us is worth loving.
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