Spotlight on the 12 Steps, Steps 7-9
By Chaplain M. Alma Janousek,
Alcohol Rehab:

After having reflected on Steps 7-8-9, I have come to the conclusion my defect of perfectionism and writing a good article has hindered me from trusting that God’s Spirit will help me accomplish this task. Even though I have “humbly asked God to remove my shortcoming of perfectionism,” I still struggle with trusting that God is helping me right now to give you some information that will be helpful. Since Steps 6 and 7 are often called the “forgotten steps,” I will focus on them.

The first two words say “Humbly asked.” Some folks think because they have not been perfect and hurt others and themselves, they don’t deserve forgiveness or help. It takes humility to admit we all fail, but by the “grace of God” we are made in His image and have good qualities. We need to remember God loves us just the way we are and is waiting for us to ask for help. God works through others and needs each one of us to help others like ourselves. We don’t have to contort ourselves to make ourselves change. We don’t have to force change. We don’t have to do anything except be willing to ask our Higher Power for help. My job is to “keep it simple” and ask for help. No matter if your H.P. is God, your sponsor, or the A.A., N.A., or Al-Anon group!

I like what the Little Red Book says about Steps 6 and 7. “We are to become honest and humble; to willingly seek God’s help without reservation; to perfect ourselves in the practice of unselfish prayer; to be aware of our defective character traits and to desire their removal; to believe that God can remove them and to ask Him to take them all away!”

We work these Steps after we have faced reality in Steps 4 and 5. Need I remind you the Big Book says selfishness is the root of all our problems? And as you reflect from your 24 Hour Book daily, we are reminded almost monthly we have been dishonest, impure, selfish and unloving. Being human, we’ll probably continue to be that way and so we are grateful for Step 7.

While in alcohol rehab in O’Neill, we have people write a Step 7 letter to God, thanking Him for their blessings and include a Vision Goal for a year from now. This Vision Goal is hopefully inspired by the Holy Spirit and fulfills our desire to be freed from our shortcomings. By taking a daily inventory and letting go of the failures for the day, we are trusting God will do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. Sooner or later, we become transformed by God’s grace... by the way, do any of you read over your Step 7 letter to God sometimes?

Steps 8 and 9 are another two Steps that take humility, but do not start with the word “Humbly.” It is not a difficult thing to list the people who suffered because of our failures. Our real problem is to arrive at a state of mind that concedes the damage we have done and embrace a sincere willingness to amend it. Step 8 is not meant to punish us; it is meant to set us free from guilt, anxiety and discord. My Al-anon book, “Courage to Change,” suggested we might divide our list into three categories: those to whom I am “willing” to make amends; those to whom I “might” make amends and those I “absolutely would not” make amends; But, as we pray for those whom we have hurt, or hurt us, the grace of God may enable us to start making amends to those on our “maybe” list and in time even some of the “absolutely not” people may appear on the “maybe” list. We need to be reminded Steps 8 and 9 can’t be done over night, but on the other hand, we don’t want to procrastinate on it either.

Step 9 is “Made direct amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.” Doing this is often difficult and it hurts our pride (so the need for humility again) but the rewards are great. It takes courage to do this. So once again ask your Higher Power to give you the grace to take the plunge. Talk to your sponsor about any anxiety that hinders you. And then praise and thank your Higher Power for the freedom that you enjoy. There will be joy, happiness and a new sense of peace when you humbly take the action! Blessings as you continue on your journey of growth and remember you are just where you need to be on your journey of life, if you did your best for today!

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