With the final words of my fourth step read aloud to my sponsor Step Five was completed and it was time to consider Step Six and Step Seven. As I finished reading, I fell into silence. The deep shame and the secrets I planned to take to my grave were relieved, I sat unburdened. The unresolved resentment, which once created my selfish, self-seeking, dishonest, and fear-based reaction to life had been brought to the Light. Now I understood how I told myself lies and I had believed those lies…about God, about others, and about myself. As I finished my reading, my sponsor handed me the Big Book and said, “Read the paragraph which precedes Step Six and Step Seven.” I opened the book and read, “We pocket our pride and go for it. Illuminating every twist of character, every dark cranny of the past. Once we have taken this step, withholding nothing, we are delighted. We can look the world in the eye. We can be alone at perfect peace and ease. Our fears fall from us. We begin to feel the nearness of our Creator. We may have had certain spiritual beliefs but now we begin to have a spiritual experience. The feeling that the drink problem has disappeared will often come strongly. We feel we are on a Broad Highway walking hand and hand with the Spirit of the Universe.”
As she prepared to leave, my sponsor paused at the door and said, “Ask God to be with you“. In the moments after she left, a sense of peace and calm settled within me and I felt relieved from, the “bondage of self”. The pain and suffering that once resided within me was gone. And I knew, for this trust to continue, I needed to ask myself was I ready, really ready, to turn my life over to the care of God? Was I now willing to call on God for all things? Did I finally understand without God, inner peace would allude me? Quietly, and yet firmly, I said aloud,
” My Creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me
Please note, Inward Grace maintains a clear distinction between spirituality and religion. The Inward Grace disclaimer:
“The word ‘spiritual’ does not refer to religious matters. All activity which drives the human being forward towards some form of development-physical, emotional, mental, intuitional, social–if it is in advance of her/his present state, is essentially spiritual in nature and is indicative of the livingness of an inner divine entity.”
Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character
From Breathing Under Water by Richard Rohr
Step Six, although not commonly followed, is throughly biblical. It struggles with–and resolves–the old paradox of which comes first, the chicken or the egg. It first recognizes that we have to work to see our many resistance, excuses, and blockages; but then we have to fully acknowledge that God alone can do the removing! Should grace or responsibility come first? The answer is that both comes first.
All we can do is get out of the way and then the soul takes its natural course. Grace is inherent to creation from the beginning (see Genesis 1:2), just like springtime; but it is a lot of work to get out of the way and allow that grace to fully operate and liberate.
Step Six paradoxically says that we must fully own and admit that we have “defects of character,” but then, equally, we must step back and do nothing about it, as it were, until we are “entirely ready” to let God do the job! This really shows high-level spiritual consciousness. The waiting, the preparing of the mind for grace, the softening of the heart, the deepening of expectation and desire, the “readiness” to really let go, the recognition that I really do not want to let go, the actual willingness to change is the work of weeks, months, and years.
But the recognition that is finally “done unto me” is the supreme insight of the gospels, which is taught practically in Step Six. It is the same prayer of Mary at the beginning of her journey (see Luke 1:38) and of Jesus at the end of his life (see Luke 22:42): “Let it be done unto me!” We named our whole work after this dilemma: “The Center for Action and Contemplation.” It seems we must both take responsibility (action) and surrender (contemplation).
Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings
Rohr continues with Step Seven…
Gerald May, a dear and now–deceased friend of mine, wrote in his very wise book, Addiction and Grace that addiction uses up our spiritual desire. It drains away our deepest and truest desire, that inner flow and life force which makes us “long and pant for running streams” (see Psalm 42:1). Spiritual desire is the drive that God put in us from the beginning for total satisfaction, for home, for heaven, for Divine Union. It has been a frequent experience of mine to find that many people in recovery have a unique and very acute spiritual sense, often more than others. It just got frustrated early and aimed in a wrong direction. Wild need, meaninglessness, and unfettered desire took off before boundaries, strong identity, impulse control, and deep Good expereince were in place.
The addict lives in a sate of alienation, with a “God–shaped hole” inside that it always yearning to be filled. Addicts attempt to fill it with alcohol, drugs, food, non-intimate sex, shopping–anything they feel will give them a sense of control over their moods and relief from the sense of meaninglessness and emptiness. All of us, of course, have our own false programs for happiness, which we keep using more and more to fill that God–shaped hole. I suspect this is the real meaning of “sin.”
God’s positive and lasting way of removing our shortcomings is to fill the hole with something much better, more luminous, and more satisfying. God satisfies us at our deepest levels rather than punishing us at superficial levels, which so much of organized religion seems to teach. The our old short comings are not driven away or pushed underground, as much as they are exposed for the false programs for happiness that they are. Our sins fall away as unneeded and unhelpful because we have found a new and much better vitality. This is the wondrous discover of our True Self “hidden with Christ in God” (see Colossians 3:3), and the gradual deterioration of our faults and constructed self.