“Lord, help me to be good-but not just yet.”
- St Augustine (or Nurse Jackie, which is where I first heard it.)
Here we go with Step 6 already! Summer is just flying by! The busier we get, the faster summer goes! Craig and I had a super busy week with both work and fun all the way into the weekend. The week before we had looked closely at our calendars and tried to cut out something, but there wasn’t anything we could not do. Miraculously, we fit it all in somehow and had a very good, but busy week.
We even managed to carve out a night in Traverse City mixing a little business and pleasure. A quick trip, but I was grateful for the time we could have together. When we left it was the sunniest, most gorgeous day ever and we had big plans for beach and biking up north the next afternoon. The next day, however, I found myself shopping for a sweatshirt to wear over my tank top because it was 58 degrees and drizzling in Traverse City! Only in Michigan. We still had fun and got a lot accomplished and made our way home a little earlier than planned. Hope your week was a good one as well.
So here's a quick review of the steps we’ve covered so far:
Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over our problems-that our lives had become unmanageable.
Step 2: Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
Step 3: We made a decision to turn our wills and our lives over to the care of God.
Step 4: We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
Step 5: We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
Step 6: We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
When I read this for the first time I was kind of like, "Hmmm, yes please... I guess?" As if there is a list or something. I read on in my workbook/journal and it was actually talking about all the things about myself that I had listed in Step 4. Ahh, there’s the list. So, what happens differently in this step? Simple question, simple answer. You give it up to God.
Here’s my AA caveat: in AA, these steps are done with a sponsor, which I chose not to do. However, the track record of success in doing these steps with a sponsor, in relation to drugs and alcohol, has proven to have great success in moving someone to live a life of sobriety. If you are interested in looking at this from an AA perspective, I encourage you to look it up. There is a ton of information out there.
Let's start at the beginning. What does it mean to be entirely ready?
The definition of entirely - is to do something wholly, completely, and utterly. You hold nothing back.
This is known as the step that separates the men from the boys or where the rubber meets the road, because no other step challenges us quite like this. Why? Because these character defects are being compared to the seven deadly sins. Really!
Pride, Greed, Envy, Lust, Sloth, Anger, and Gluttony. Sorry! Like all of the steps, you have to determine what fits you, and while these are a good place to start and expand on, often a lot of these defects evolve from survival skills we have had our whole lives. I had to be willing to acknowledge the harmful consequences of some of my behavior and attitudes that I had learned to rely on. It is also important to keep an open mind to learning better and new ways of doing things. Determine which of these are hurting you and others in your everyday life and see what they most relate to.
I’m going to pick two of the seven deadly (so harsh!) sins that I related to the most. Even though I can find something in all of them.
For example - Pride. I had way too much pride to ask for help in quitting drinking. Not only did I not want help, I didn’t want anyone to find out either. Pride held me back from a life of freedom from addiction for a long time.
Pride can also be a good thing. I need to be proud every day of sobriety. I can be proud of my kids and many other things in life. I just needed to let go of the pride that was hurting me and embrace the pride that could be a positive thing in my life.
Then there’s Gluttony. If there was ever an ugly word I didn't want to identify with, it’s that one. Have you ever had that with a word? It's just nasty and you hate it when you hear it or see it? I have that with a few choice words. Ok, back to it.
The dictionary defines Gluttony as excessive eating or drinking and overindulgence where we are no longer eating to live but living to eat, or in my case living to drink. That is an ugly scene in my head. I was literally living for the next time I could drink. This disease had totally hijacked my heart and soul. I gave over my gluttony and I still have to everyday.
Here’s what I mean: when I gave up drinking, I know I went to overindulging in eating because if couldn't drink, I might as well eat. I overindulged in shopping too. These are two things I am constantly working on. I realize now I had been trying to fill a void and nothing was working. I was looking for satisfaction in all the wrong places when it was right in front of me already.
God was patiently waiting for me to figure it out. Now I choose to fill myself with his love and peace everyday. Oh believe me, I am not perfect. I still make bad choices constantly. Always a work in progress. I am actually trying to immerse myself in all things good this summer, like never before.
Here are some of the things I have embraced and try to stay in:
Quiet time with God every morning. That's not just a summer thing, that's year round!
Time with my husband. The sudden death of a friend's husband earlier this year reminded me once again how short life is. To appreciate everyday together. Same with my children and grand baby. These are gifts I must cherish every day.
Appreciating his creation with beach walks and bike rides instead of online shopping or sitting in front of the tv binge watching Netflix with a bag of chips. Making every moment of day light count.
Appreciating my body for what it can do and not beating myself up for what I think it should look like. This one takes up way too much space in my life, so I am really trying to out think some old patterns and live life a lot freer in this.
To listen to the nudges from God (that still small voice we all hear) and act on them. This past Sunday night, I felt really compelled to go to church, even though I could have totally blown it off and I really wanted to. I went and was so moved by the awesome music from our praise team and the message that I heard. I was so glad I hadn't missed out on any of it.
Can’t we all relate somehow? Those demons in the closet need to stay there. Whatever your demons are, I encourage you to try to live life in the moment and listen to God as he is working to bring you to a place of freedom from those things that are holding you back. It's work. Really hard work! Work that requires diligence and prayer!
The minister last night said something that stayed with me. I wrote it down to look at often. He said, “Our world is groping for an answer, but as a Christian I already have it.” I changed a few words and wrote this down to keep it where I could see it (good ole index cards!)
“Sherry, you don't need to keep looking for an answer, as a Christian you already have it.”
So true, Jesus is all I need. I just need to keep bringing myself back to that. As a Christian woman in recovery I am not allowed to just coast now. There is so much work to do not only in me, but in whatever God calls me to.
I would say Pride and Gluttony are/were my major character defects and I feel like I surrender them every day. I know there was a turning point in my life similar to step 6 because there did come a day when I no longer craved alcohol. That’s what step 6 is supposed to accomplish.
I had to accept the face that this crutch could never be a part of my life again. It was killing me, destroying relationships, hurting my health and causing me to sadly really miss out on life in general. I asked God to take it and he did. I’ve never desired to drink again. I did not believe that could even be possible. Now don’t get me wrong, I still have those moments that are hard, but not because of a craving. More of a I-want-have-fun and be a part of things sometimes. I have to twist my mind back into right thinking. That I can be a part of this life in every aspect without alcohol. It's not a necessary thing, like air. (Ok, that's a little dramatic, but it's true!) Alcohol is not a need it is a want.
I read this line on a website about doing the 6th step and it said, “Some people worry that if I ask to have all my character defects removed, will I have any personality left? And if I believe this, will l cling to the old ways even if I am not drinking?"
Big epiphany for me here. I spent a lot of time (and I mean a lot) worrying about if I would still be fun if I quit drinking (like that was the most important thing!) I blamed that thought process entirely on the booze, when in reality it had nothing to do with the bottle and everything to do with my character defects.
I have to admit this step had me a bit stumped. This step, to me, implies surrender, again? It seems to me that every step had an underlying tone about that, but they all have a unique purpose and something different to work on and add to what you are already working on. Kind of like how the 10 commandments are all uniquely different, but the underlying tone is the same: do not sin.
Hopefully, you heard something here that spoke truth to you. I’m not an expert, I’m not a sponsor. I’m just a God girl in recovery sharing her perspective with you.
So it’s another day of surrender here. At least it's a sunny and 85 degree day of surrender.
I've got this. And so do you.