Step 6 is: Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
Step 7 is: Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
Over the years I have heard some amazingly wise things in the meeting rooms of my 12 step program regarding these two steps. What I have learned is a combination of what has been shared and my own personal experience.
I have learned that Steps 6 and 7 must shape my thinking in order to be effective in my life. I have heard this expressed as "I live in Steps 6 and 7 today" and my own experience has born this out to be true. However, like most of my life, this was and continues to be a gradual growing into an attitude and outlook that requires me to stop and look first at me when something goes wrong.
Let me pause here for a moment for a disclaimer.
In no way or shape will I or any other responsible member of any legitimate 12 Step group hold someone responsible for criminal behavior perpetrated upon them. If you have been attacked, abused, robbed, swindled, assaulted, raped, or otherwise been a victim of someone else's psychotic or irresponsible behavior you are NEVER at fault!
I want that made clear - taking responsibility for my life and my behavior does not excuse the men who ganged raped me when I was unconscious or the vicious verbal abuse I endured from a damaged parent. My character defects do not okay someone else's bad behavior.
That being said, I know I would not have been unconscious behind that dumpster in the back of the bar in San Francisco if I had not been drinking and snorting cocaine. While I absolutely understand that I could have been gang-raped after leaving Bible study, I also know the life style I was leading put me at greater risk. It does not mean I deserved it and it does not mean the perpetrators had a right to hurt me.
To live today in Steps 6 and 7 means that I have to be willing to walk hand in hand with God and work with Him on the ever unfolding miracle that is His creation - ME! I have to take that admission I made in Step 5 and deepen it. I have to be willing to say to God, "I know there are some things I cannot remove from me without Your Divine Help and I am asking You, here and now, to please give me that Help".
My part, as I see it therefore is three fold:
1. I have to acknowledge
2. I have to ask
3. I have to take the Help
Martin Luther never thought it was possible to be transformed by the Grace of God. Catholics believe that it is entirely possible and that this transformation is open to anyone who is willing to try, one day at a time, to grow closer in communion with the Source of all Power and Truth. We do not think we have to work for our salvation (and let me say right now that anyone, ANYONE, who tries to tell you we DO believe that is either ignorant or a liar) but we do believe that we have to take action in order to facilitate our growth. We express our belief in His Saving Act through our works, and we can actively participate in our salvation as well as in the salvation of others.
Steps 6 and 7 helps us walk more firmly towards heaven, because if I can remember that no matter what is going on in my life I do have a part in it, I am an active member of the world and I do impact others by my thoughts, words and deeds then I will have a better chance of making it to heaven. If I sit on my laurels and think I am all done, I am in trouble - either in this world or the next.
Every morning I pray for God to take my life as an offering and then I ask Him to remove those defects of character that stand in the way of my being useful to Him. Every night I review the actions I took and ask myself, "Did I walk towards Him or away from Him today and if so how?".
This willingness to make this walk is firmly rooted in Steps 6 and 7...and I am grateful that God walks with me, one day at a time.
Let me take the time to offer prayers for the repose of the soul of David Bowie.
Thank you for the music.