Step 7 of a 12-Step Series
Following a noon AA women’s meeting, I found myself reading out loud from the Big Book with my Sponsor.
Step 7 suggests we Humbly ask God to remove our shortcomings. And so I did just that. Humbly and quietly on a bench just outside the doors of the local Episcopalian Church on a random Thursday afternoon.
I suppose what is important to note is that I had honestly and accurately completed the previous six out of the 12 steps and those were important to the foundation of the work I still had yet to do. For the first time in my life, I was starting to clearly see myself for who I really was and, more importantly, who I was becoming.
When ready, we say something like this: "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." We have then completed Step Seven.
The Big Book of AA, p. 76
The fact that I was actually talking to God or My Creator in any way, shape or form was its own separate miracle and, as I go through the 12 steps, I’m forever reminded that I should never say never.
The spiritual awakening is real, folks.
Long gone are my preconceived notions about an invisible man in the sky who indiscriminately gives life and takes it away. All I know for sure is this: God equals Love (to me). That’s it. I insert the word Love when I hear God and something about that satisfies me and allows me to continue on with the steps. Want to know what’s even weirder than that? I actually believe it - 100% and with my whole head and heart. God can be a feeling. I never knew that.
Most emphatically we wish to say that any alcoholic capable of honestly facing his problems in the light of our experience can recover, provided he does not close his mind to all spiritual concepts. He can only be defeated by an attitude of intolerance or belligerent denial.
Big Book of AA, Appendices II—Spiritual Experience (pp. 567-568)
There is a phrase in the Big Book that really hits the nail on the head when it comes to the God-talk heard in the rooms and in the reading I do associated with my own recovery. That phrase is this: contempt prior to investigation.
Once I stopped drinking, I realized that those four little words rang true for me in many areas of my life, especially when it came to spiritual matters. My doubt always turned into contempt and I wore its ugly badge for years. I couldn’t believe what I hadn’t personally experienced. I harbored contempt, suspicions and big-time judgment about anything and everything that I didn’t agree with or subscribe to personally (like God, psychic mediums, aromatherapy, people who manifested stuff, crystals, mantras, AA, the Mormon Church, and the list goes on...). I was full to the brim with contempt and it turned out that harboring those feelings was keeping me from growing, learning and expanding in connection with my own human experience. Only through my 12-step work can I now see my contempt prior to investigation for what it really was.
I think my contempt for people, places and things that were unfamiliar to me was really just fear all dressed up. I was just afraid of what I didn’t know. I was afraid to be duped or tricked into believing something that may or may not be true or, at least, not true for me. Ultimately, I think I was afraid to change the way I was living my life. I was afraid to give up alcohol and live a life where I would feel all of my feelings. I was afraid to peel back the layers and find out what made me tick.
Completing Step 7 has definitely cracked something open in me and I embraced my willingness to give things a go and try them on for size before cementing my feelings about them. I can actually pray (yes, really!) to a higher power of my own understanding now. I never did this before. In doing so, it helps me to conquer my fears and gracefully move into a place of self-love. And from that place, I can truthfully say that I’m no longer afraid of the unknown (or crystals, essential oils or the God-talk I hear in the rooms). I’m way more open to another way now and sturdy enough in my character to either ask more questions or say nope, that’s not for me and move on without acting like a know-it-all.
Humbly asking for something and really meaning it has shown me firsthand how to take the next graceful step in my life. I think there’s a certain amount of redemption to be found in Step 7 if you work this step and really mean it. This way of acting and moving through the world wasn’t available to me before I made this step because I was so wrapped up in judgment and contempt for things I didn’t fully understand or trust. In the end, I had to let that shit go.
Contempt has now been replaced by genuine curiosity.
And no one is more surprised by this fact than me.
Tammi hasn’t had a drink since February 3, 2015. She is a former wine bar owner, lifelong seeker and recovering perfectionist. She makes art every day and credits this practice as the path to her spiritual overhaul. She documents her creative forays and monthly sobriety milestones at TammiSalas.com Her writing here will share her story as she navigates the 12 Steps of AA.
A NOTE FROM TAMMI:
Anonymity is the foundation of AA and I respect that. However, I choose torecover out loud in order to be of service to other people still suffering.