We are going to look at what is known in recovery circles as the forgotten step…Step 6. Even though it is one of the most important steps so many of us forget to do this one, and If this one is missed you will never fully get this whole recovery thing right!!! TRUE!
So much time and energy is focused on Step 4 and 5 that after we’re done with those we feel like taking a break. But Step 6 is life changing…it says that, ”Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.” The bible says it this way, ” So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world (God and your addictions). Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor ” (James 4:7-10, NLT).
In the last few articles we have looked at Steps 4 and 5. Step 4 is, “Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.” If you do this honestly, you will experience tears, sorrow, and deep grief. It’s intense. Then add the Bible verse:
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
Point out anything in me that offends you,
and lead me along the path of everlasting life.
~ Psalm 139:23-24 NLT
That was crazy to me… I thought, “Let me get this right” to honestly, fearlessly, and without blaming others…look at my emotional, moral, and spiritual garbage, or as they say in the recovery community ‘character defects’. Wow, and then ask God, WHO KNOWS EVERYTHING to ‘search me” “test me” “point out anything in me that offends.” It’s a huge step.
The only way to really be this vulnerable is to remember Steps Two and Three… that God can restore me to sanity and He cares about me… delights in me… is crazy about me!
Step Five continues the journey with, “admit to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.” It’s such a difficult but important thing to do. For many of us it’s the first time in our lives that we said out loud (and meant it) “I am a mess.” “I have done some things that I am not proud.” “It is my fault that I am in the place that I am.”
If you stay at step Five or jump over steps Six and even Seven you may fully see your ‘character defects’ but instead of having ‘…God remove all these defects of character’ you get to work on yourself. I love this statement in a pamphlet from The Hazelden Foundation, Step 6&7, “When we come to Step Six, the most important thing to understand is this: we have been unable to change on our own. Whether we’ve hidden these defects from ourselves or jousted with them all our lives, the fact is that we cannot overcome old ways of thinking and doing. These patterns are fixed; they are “hard-wired” into our personalities. Our ways of handling life are forged by factors like genetics and personal history, factors out of conscious control.
That is why it takes the gift of an altered personality to respond to our world in new and different ways… in order to ask God to remove these defects of character, we must completely accept that we cannot do it for ourselves.” Once we fully see our ‘condition’ and the outstretched arms of God this step is so healing… we stop trying to fix ourselves and willing surrender it all to God.
I love the imagery in the Bible “ To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” Finally breaking through to the light we can come up for air, surrendering our ‘stuff’ to God with gratitude. “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow” (Melody Beattie).
I love that. Enjoy and be blessed with this step!