Step 7

Step 7 – Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

The Step 7 prayer in the Big Book suggests a willingness that my creator ‘should have all of me, good and bad’. The inclusion of the word ‘good’ has always had a profound effect on me.

My initial thoughts were that not only do I have to be willing to hand over what I believe to be my defects of character, but also the strengths of character I deem to possess too. Hand over ‘all of me’ and let my creator decide what my defects are. Fair enough, I’m not the best judge. I discovered this when I looked at the second half of step1. Step 10 reminds me on a daily basis.

In essence, I am handing over my shortcomings but only as a result of handing over my thinking, my perception, my justification, my rationalisation, my logic, my decision making.

Some shortcomings are clearly present and I can be specific with the wording of the prayer, others are less clear and a more open-minded approach is required.

Just my interpretation, but what an amazing step. What an amazing leap of faith. 🙏

‘.. the program is a road not a resting place’……’For life is not flat but a slope upwards’…

‘.. the program is a road not a resting place’……’For life is not flat but a slope upwards’…

I love this. It reminds me that I need to keep working in order for me to keep progressing.

Before recovery I was walking the road through Hell. Not that I knew it, my mind was entirely focused on self. Like tunnel vision I did not notice what was around. I did not notice the destruction that surrounded me, the view was too ugly to bear, I’d rather not look. Neither did I notice the glimmers of beauty that were trying to break through, I had no time to appreciate them, I had a purpose to fulfil. For many, many years I walked down the same road.

In February 2017 I came across a man, he was neither friend nor family but he was willing to help me. He assured me there was a another way and that I didn’t need to continue down the same dubious path. He had been shown another way, a road of recovery. He spoke of a new life, a life of serenity and happiness and he offered to walk with me as long as I was willing to walk the walk. I stood and looked in the direction he was pointing, I couldn’t see what lied ahead (the future is like that) but after decades of experience I knew where my old road was leading so I thought ‘what the hell’ and took a step into the unknown.

What I can say now, is that leap of faith has been the best decision I have made. So unlike me to make a decision like that, I often wonder if I was given a big nudge by a divine hand. Walking the walk has meant dilligent effort on a daily basis but boy it’s worth it, the views are gorgeous. No longer is my vison tunneled. My eyes have been opened and I now look around me with gratitude, I can see the beauty the world has to offer. So beautiful is the world it is often tempting to stop. But the man, who is still with me, tells me things get even better and the slope back down can get slippery if I stay too long. I still have no idea what lies ahead but my belief has turned into faith and my faith is fast turning to trust. I trust that there is a never ending road ahead of me and I trust that the road just gets more and more beautiful. The colours become more vibrant, the good in people becomes more evident, I become more joyous and free. All I need to do is keep walking the walk.

‘Who are you to say there is no God?’

‘Who are you to say there is no God?’ pg 56 AA’s Big Book

Am I the only one who reads this and thinks of Miracle on 34th Street?

In all seriousness, the ‘We Agnostics’ chapter and in particular this line, provided the foundation to my belief in a greater power than myself. As well as bringing Richard Attenborough’s festive smile to mind, it gave me humility. How egocentric was I for this to have such a profound impact on me? Did I really think I knew everything? I am not the almighty. I am not celestial. I am not all powerful.

And it’s this humility which is the over riding thought when I get on my knees and pray. I have no idea who or what I pray to but I do know its not me. There is plenty of things more powerful and that is enough for me.

Where am I?

Where am I?

Exactly? Well I’m on the tube having just been to another 12 Step meeting. That’s 52 meetings in as many days. I’m 6021 days without a bet of any kind and 6 and a half days free from overeating. I am comfortably into my fourth decade on Earth and I am happier than I can remember. I used to dread the future to a point that I never planned for it, now I have a sincere hope. I’ve gone from managing my own life as well as managing the lives of those around me to handing my life over to a greater power I choose to call God. I am understanding how powerless I am over people, places and things. I am realising, sometime too slowly, the importance of self honesty. I am mending relationships instead of breaking them. I now meditate and have become one of those spiritual beings I used to laugh at. Through Unity, Service and Recovery I am progressing instead of regressing. The fear I sometimes wake up to is quickly recognised for what it truly is – not real. To life’s challenges I have found some answers. I lean towards consideratation, tolerance and patience. I practice love, forgiveness and gratitude. My pathological dishonesty is leaving me. I accept I am not perfect and never will be. I have found humility and I try to remain teachable. I am able to use my past for reflection and learn from it, instead of surpressing it under lock and key. I have found my purpose in life – to carry this message to others.

Chalk and Cheese

This is very relevant to my life at the moment so I thought I’d share my experience of Step 2 – “Came to believe in a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”

“Came to believe…” This is exactly what happened to me. Through the humbling of Step 1 and reading the first few chapters of the Big Book, I came to believe. There was no existing belief beforehand, in fact, I almost resented the idea on the basis it was ridiculous, a sign of weakness and lack of self-will. It was comforting to know I didn’t need the belief before I embarked on the 12 Step Program.

“… in a power greater than ourselves…” The admission of my powerlessness over my illness and the the fact I had done an awful job at managing my life, gave me the necessary humility to accept and come to believe there are many things more powerful than I. For me it was that simple. The fact I am not the most powerful thing means there is an abundance of things that are. When I get on my knees and pray, this is what’s going through my mind. Simple humility.

“….could restore us to sanity.” Wait a minute! Not only do I have to believe in a power greater than myself, but I have to believe this power can influence me enough to restore sanity?? Despite my initial reservations, my experience has proved this can be quite simple. To start with, one of the main reasons I started this journey of recovery is because I wanted the apparent serenity I could see in others. If the programme, which includes a belief in a greater power, can work for them, why can’t it work for me too? Who am I to say it won’t? That was enough for me to get started. Since then, my belief has progressed and evolved into faith. How? Simply through experience. On a daily basis, when I feel connected to my greater power, I am a different person. I am calmer, I talk lower, I am at peace, I am a good listener, I appreciate the small things. When I am running on self will I am in a rush, I obsess over food, I am resentful, I am fearful, I am angry, I am selfish. Like chalk and cheese. Like black and white. It is as clear as night and day if I am running on self will or a greater power’s will. So, do I believe a power greater than myself can restore me to sanity? Most definitely.

Chalk and Cheese

This is very relevant to my life at the moment so I thought I’d share my experience of Step 2 – “Came to believe in a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”

“Came to believe…” This is exactly what happened to me. Through the humbling of Step 1 and reading the first few chapters of the Big Book, I came to believe. There was no existing belief beforehand, in fact, I almost resented the idea on the basis it was ridiculous, a sign of weakness and lack of self-will. It was comforting to know I didn’t need the belief before I embarked on the 12 Step Program.

“… in a power greater than ourselves…” The admission of my powerlessness over my illness and the the fact I had done an awful job at managing my life, gave me the necessary humility to accept and come to believe there are many things more powerful than I. For me it was that simple. The fact I am not the most powerful thing means there is an abundance of things that are. When I get on my knees and pray, this is what’s going through my mind. Simple humility.

“….could restore us to sanity.” Wait a minute! Not only do I have to believe in a power greater than myself, but I have to believe this power can influence me enough to restore sanity?? Despite my initial reservations, my experience has proved this can be quite simple. To start with, one of the main reasons I started this journey of recovery is because I wanted the apparent serenity I could see in others. If the programme, which includes a belief in a greater power, can work for them, why can’t it work for me too? Who am I to say it won’t? That was enough for me to get started. Since then, my belief has progressed and evolved into faith. How? Simply through experience. On a daily basis, when I feel connected to my greater power, I am a different person. I am calmer, I talk lower, I am at peace, I am a good listener, I appreciate the small things. When I am running on self will I am in a rush, I obsess over food, I am resentful, I am fearful, I am angry, I am selfish. Like chalk and cheese. Like black and white. It is as clear as night and day if I am running on self will or a greater power’s will. So, do I believe a power greater than myself can restore me to sanity? Most definitely.

Windows of Opportunities

Windows of Opportunities

My experience in the fellowship has been one full of opportunities. I have taken many but missed many too. Nearly every time, the window of opportunity opens up before me without warning and if I don’t take the leap of faith and grab it with both hands, before I know it, the window will close and the opportunity will be gone. Through trial and error, I have learnt the importance of taking these opportunities as soon as they present themselves.

This is best summed up in my experience of getting a sponsor. A taken opportunity that has turned my life around.

I came back to the meetings in September 2016 after relapsing from several years of abstinence. At that point, I was a mess, I had found another rock bottom, I had caused a huge amount of harm to the ones I love and I would’ve done anything to stop. I had ‘the gift of desperation’. Had I been directly offered sponsorship on that first meeting back I may have taken it. (It should be noted, unlike today, the chances of being offered sponsorship on your first meeting was slim at best) For me, I can say with a degree of certainty that first window closed on me with the serenity prayer that very same evening. Why? Because the magic of that meeting worked, the obsession to gamble lifted, I felt better, I felt strong, I felt recovered, I was cured. I didn’t need the steps and sponsorship. Life was great again. Window closed. Clearly the obsession that I am not an addict got the better of me once again.

For others, that gift of desperation may have lasted for another week or two. Everyone is different, but it is my belief that sooner or later the window will close. I had to wait another 6 months before this particular window reopened. Thankfully I kept ‘coming back’ to meetings. Eventually, the consistent message of recovery coincided with another gift of desperation in the form of a sudden realisation that I, despite my past and present abstinence, had not changed a single bit. I was still the same fearful, resentful, lustful, dishonest person. I didn’t like who I was, gambling or not, and I was desperate for change. The window was ajar for the second time.

That evening, I never had the courage to ask for a sponsor but I gave the most honest and desperate share of my life. At the end of the meeting, and before the window shut in my face again, God placed before me my sponsor, who promptly proceeded to give me a clear idea of what being a sponsee entailed. I’m genuinely not sure what came over me, but despite my many reservations, I took that leap of faith, something I had never done before, and took the opportunity that presented itself. Had I not, I have no idea how long that window of opportunity would have stayed open. Knowing me, not long.

This is just one of many examples. Some windows come along every few months or so, some on a weekly basis and some every single day. Whether it be an opportunity to attend an extra meeting, or reach out to a struggling member, or make amends to someone I’ve harmed, or tell someone I love them, I try to take the opportunity before it disappears for some reason or another – because it will.

When God speaks to me, however I hear his words, I need to act before the idea of not doing so becomes an overpowering comfortable one.

Windows of Opportunities….. I assume they call it Windows because they open……. And close.

Gratitude List 21/06/2019: Open-mindedness

Gratitude List 21/06/2019

Open-mindedness

Today I am grateful I once Googled what open-mindedness meant and quickly realised I was anything but.

Today I am grateful for all the ways I have been able to practice open-mindedness since.

Today I am grateful I can practice by allowing others to express their views.

Today I am grateful I can practice by tolerating and accepting the views and knowledge of others.

Today I am grateful I can practice by being receptive to new ideas.

Today I am grateful I can practice by recognising the values of another, even if it goes against my own.

Today I am grateful I can practice by putting aside my own self-will in order to fairly and impartially listen to another.

Today I am grateful I can practice by simply doing what someone else suggests, especially when I don’t want to.

Today I am grateful I can practice by remembering that my old closed-mindedness never did me any good.

Today I am grateful I can remember ‘Who Am I to say otherwise?’

Gratitude List 01/05/2019: I will still…

Gratitude List 01/05/2019

Sometimes things don’t go to plan. It would be easy for me to think ‘Why bother? What’s the point?’

Today I am grateful I don’t think like that at all. Instead I feel the importance of the program more than ever before.

Today I am grateful I still have faith and I will still get on my knees and pray.

Today I am grateful I still feel humble and want guidance and strength from a power greater than I. I will still sit silently, meditate and listen.

Today I am grateful I still see the importance of Unity and I will still reach out and connect with other fellows.

Today I am grateful I still feel supported (not alone) and I will still call my sponsor to get things off my chest.

Today I am grateful I still want to feel inspired and motivated and I will still read some recovery based literature.

Today I am grateful I still desire spiritual growth and I will still practice honesty when I do my inventory this evening.

Today I am grateful I still have gratitude and I will still complete this list.