“Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.” Al-Anon's Step Six
I have always been hesitant to change my habits, because I know that up until now, they have helped me to survive. Being an over-achiever has helped me stay valuable to others. Being hyper-vigilant has helped me to avoid dangerous situations. These character defects of mine have come in quite handy, and they worked for me when nothing else in my life seemed to. They have been the handrail on which I leaned whenever I felt insecure, but they have not made me happy. They have made me stiff, and cold, and tired.
My issue with Step Six is that I’m not inclined to loosen the grip on my handrails until you show me that there’s something else to grab onto. To be “entirely ready” means I have to trust that whatever you’re asking me to do will work. And I’m not a very trusting person.
But I’ve been in program for six years now, and although I have not yet seen a single burning bush, I have been slowly gathering evidence along the way. Some of it has been heard in shares at meetings. Some of it has been gathered by mining the literature for proof. But the evidence that bred the most trust in me came when I found the courage or surrender to try things differently, and it worked. Evidence is a powerful thing, but only insofar as it helps me to develop trust. Trust is the real key to Step Six for me. Evidence leads to trust and trust leads to surrender.
But there’s also that tricky God concept. What does it mean to me to have God remove my defects of character, when my understanding of a higher power is a what, instead of a who? For me, I know that life keeps throwing me the same challenges over and over again until I learn what I’m supposed to learn. Maybe it’s not so much that it’s being thrown at me, but I keep bumping into the same brick walls over and over until I learn how to walk around them. When I’m entirely ready to surrender my way of doing things, I suddenly see opportunities to do things differently. When I learn to take that one step to the left and go around the bricks instead of thru them, I feel the ease and grace of that step, and I find the trust to let go of my old familiar path, the one that historically led to a whole lot of bruising.
It’s the unfolding of life, with all its inherent challenges, that removes my defects of character. I will be presented with every lesson I need to learn. When I am ready to give my current character defects up, life’s challenges will look different. I'll experience doing things a different way, and my need to hold onto those old character defects (my fear) will be removed. I will develop the trust required to let go.
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