Step 7 | 12 Step Meetings and Anonymous Groups

Step 7

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    7. We humbly ask Him to remove our shortcomings.



    If we can’t work on a defect, then how do they become “arrested”? And who does the arresting? Not the God of our understanding according to our literature.

    To logically answer these questions, one has to know the difference between a defect being arrested and a defect being removed. A defect is arrested when we become responsible for our behavior (via awareness, acceptance and action) and a defect (or shortcoming) is removed by the God of our understanding. Being responsible for our behavior is what our literature means when it tells us, “We no longer have our drug use or our ignorance as an excuse to be irresponsible.”

    When I hear addicts say that their behavior is based on their defects and there’s nothing they can do about it because God hasn’t removed the defect yet, the conclusion that I draw is that they are simply making an excuse for not being willing to apply spiritual principles in that area of their life. The literature addresses situations such as these:” When we are confronted with our character defects,,,,,,,we begin by taking complete responsibility for our actions. We don’t avoid responsibility by saying something like, ‘Well, God hasn’t removed that defect yet’ or ‘ I’m powerless over my defects, and that’s just the way I’m going to be.”

    The bottom line is that we will often rationalize and justify some outrageous stuff just to keep on doing what we want to do, regardless of who we hurt (usually ourselves). This awareness brings truth to the phrase, “When the pain gets greater than the pleasure we’ll do something different.”

    Sure, we can always use the excuse that “I’m an addict” and that “I have a disease” to justify some immaturity, or we can even refer to the literature where it talks about not trying to control or “suppress” our defects. Yet, the Sixth Step tells us that surrendering our defects of character to a loving God is what we should do, “…because we have exhausted our attempts to change on our own willpower.” My understanding of this is that we have a part to play in getting our defects arrested and when it’s all said and done, God does for us what we can’t do for ourselves.

    Doing work in the program requires that we become responsible and face our problems, rather than run from them or make excuses. We have to take an active part in changing our ideas, attitude and behavior because the program tells us that we’re responsible for our recovery. The program tells me that , “We replace old habits with new ways of living.” This also refers to us doing work. It doesn’t say that God replaces our old habits. Another action word that suggests we become active participants in our own recovery is “practice”. When the literature tells us that “we practice these principles in all our affairs” , it doesn’t tell us that we should pick and choose which “affair” to work on. We should work on them all because in the Sixth Step we refer to “all these defects of character”, not placing a higher value or urgency on one defect over another.

    The willingness we applied to Step 6 is accompanied with action, and since humility is a result of getting honest with ourselves, in the 7th Step we get honest enough to humbly ask our Higher Power to remove the defects.

    Garry W.

    (Reprinted From “Inside The Rooms” 3/03)



    I agree that we can work on our defects. This happens in both six and seven. Step six has do with our willingness action; step seven has to do with God’s help to make our actions bear fruit (change, growth). In my experience, my attempts to change on my own only go so far. When I really try to stop practicing a defect of character and start doing things differently, it sometimes backfires. It’s like trying get a song out of your head: the more you think about trying to get the song out of your head, the more you hear it. Character defects can be like that. So, I’m not saying that I just throw up my hands and say God hasn’t removed that one yet, but I realize that my will can only God so far and then I need help. When I recognize this, it gives me a good dose of humility and a little bit of patience with myself.

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