From the Foreword of the 12 & 12: “A.A.’s Twelve Steps are a group of principles, spiritual in their nature, which, if practiced as a way of life, can expel the obsession to drink and enable the sufferer to become happily and usefully whole.”
“Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.”
The One Thing I Need To Know About Step 7:
Humility Heals Pain
of this Step:
Literature Reference: The basic ingredient of all humility: a “desire to seek and do God’s will.” (12 & 12 – Page 72, Step Seven)
What Can I Surrender in this Step? Belief that I can become less of my character defects on my own or remove them myself.
One dictionary defines humility as: “the quality or condition of being humble; modest opinion or estimate of one’s own importance, rank, etc.” While that is a perfectly good definition of it, the “Literature Reference” above highlights that Bill W. gave us HIS definition of humility in the 12&12 as: “a desire to seek and do God’s will.”
One of the first and most important things we need to learn about our defects is that we can’t be relieved of them without some level of humility. Alcoholics are victims of pride and selfishness. In the past when we felt pain and suffering (generally as a result of said pride & selfishness), we masked it with alcohol. Before coming to A.A., we used self-reliance to deal with it. Today, we can acknowledge the limits of human power in addressing these character defects. We cannot do it on our own. We cannot do it by sheer willpower. We cannot do it by our own intellect and reasoning.
Although Steps 6 & 7 are the shortest Step in terms of wording in our Big Book and are perhaps the least discussed in meetings these days, they are probably the most potent of all twelve. As we mentioned in Step 6, they ARE the meat & substance of our program of recovery. They embody the miracle of transformation as we turn over our broken, defective personalities for God to transform them into healthy, effective instruments of God’s will.
Humility turns obstacles into opportunities for God to act through us. When questioning whether or not I am applying humility to a situation I could ask, “How would a humble person handle this situation?” When we mix self-centeredness with a situation, a problem results. When we remove it, we only have a situation to deal with, not a problem. The Seventh step is not a one-way street, though. God will remove our defects to the degree that we are willing to practice the spiritual obedience that lay behind them. Step 7 gives us the choice to pray to be free of a defect rather than obsessed with it as we were before taking it. Be patient. Be diligent. Our defects didn’t mold us overnight and we can’t change our life overnight.
MYTHS ABOUT THIS STEP
- Humility isn’t necessary for recovery. You can’t see your shortcomings without stripping yourself of your ego and pride. This unfiltered look into yourself allows you to develop a humble attitude and correct your moral defects.
- Step 7 means we will not have any defects once God removes them. Self-centered fear will still trigger our defects. The difference is that we now have a choice to follow our lust, for example, or not. We will be given a divine nudge at the onset of our defects to pray to God to change us, and God will, whereas, before Steps 6 & 7 we had no choice over our defects and were obsessed by them.
- We have the ability to remove our defects ourselves. This sort of thing is WAY above our pay grade. We simply don’t have the built-in skill sets to become less prideful, angry, greedy, gluttonous, lustful, envious, slothful or fearful on our own.
7th STEP EXERCISE
In the same manner we hire a trainer, do cardio work, do core work and spend our valuable time money & effort at the gym to strengthen our physical muscles, we must give the same valuable time and effort to the strengthening of our spiritual muscles.
How Do You Spell Pain Relief?
“We heard story after story of how humility had brought strength out of weakness. In every case, pain had been the price of admission into a new life. But this admission price had purchased more than we expected. It brought a measure of humility, which we soon discovered to be a healer of pain. We began to fear pain less, and desire humility more than ever.” (Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, Page 75, Step Seven)
- Turn to page 70 in the 12X12, the beginning of Step Seven.
- Take a highlighter and go through the entire chapter (Step Seven) and mark a line through the word “humility” and with a pen, place an asterisk to the right of the word. When asked to do so, you will replace this word as you are reading aloud with this phrase, “the desire to seek and do God’s will.” (The asterisk becomes a simple reminder)
- Now that you have completed that, go back to the beginning of the chapter and with a pen, replace every singular pronoun in the chapter to reflect first person. Actually mark out any reference to “they, them, us, we” (or any reference to something outside yourself – it will begin to make sense) and change it to “I, me, my, mine, etc.” For example, instead of “we should pause here to consider what humility is and what the practice of it can mean to us.” – it will now read, “…I should pause here to consider what the desire to seek and do God’s will is and what the practice of it can mean to me.”
- Now go back and slowly read aloud the entire chapter with these changes.
Taking a step displays a willingness to write inventory and allow it to surrender something within us. Write inventory on your most serious shortcomings around the practical application of this step in your life today (“How am I applying the principle found in this Step to every moment of my life?”).
Looking at the patterns of disobedience to spiritual principles in your life, answer these questions in all three areas for which you have been previously writing inventory:
In 1.) My Personal Relationships, at 2.) Work and 3.) with God and A.A….
- … where am I being prideful (lack of humility)?
- … where am I being greedy (lack of generosity)?
- … where am I being lustful (lack of purity of intention)?
- … where am I being angry (lack of a loving attitude)?
- … where am I being gluttonous (lack of discipline)?
- … where am I being envious (lack of gratitude)?
- … where am I being slothful (lack of action)?
(Provide examples for each of these in each area – this inventory MAY take longer than previous inventories written 🙂
(If you can answer yes to these questions, you’ve likely taken this Step)
- Are you ready to give up self-reliance for reliance on a Higher Power—whatever that may be to you?
- Are you ready to learn to practice humility (the desire to seek and do God’s will) and put character-building ahead of comfort?
- Are you ready to make “honesty, tolerance, and true love of man and God the daily basis of living?”
- Are you ready to change your perspective from a self-centered one to a humble, selfless one?
- Are you ready to accept that humility is necessary to achieve a sober and fulfilled life?
- Are you ready to appreciate the enormity of God’s power to transform lives?
- Have you offered this prayer to God: “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” ?
And So It Is. AMEN