Step 7: Humbly asked God/the Active Force of Creation to remove our shortcomings.
After recognizing our character defects as things that are not “just who we are”, and we accept that and become willing to step into a new way of being and doing, we now find ourselves ready to perform the Inner Alchemy that is Step 7. This takes humility. Humility is often confused with humiliation. The Green Book states the following:
“ Many of us have confused humility with humiliation. We were more familiar with pleading for, or demanding what we wanted than with asking. In fact it takes humility to truly ask for help. It means admitting that we are not wholly strong and self-sufficient. It means that we are not too proud or ashamed to believe that we can be helped.”
Pride is something I had a big issue with. That was where my program would struggle. Particularly when it came to reaching out to others for help; making phone calls when I was feeling up against it. But in doing this, I was limiting the capacities in which God could actually help me. The Green Book illustrates:
“One of the main ways God works in our lives is through other people… They can give us encouragement when we lack confidence. They can help us see shortcomings that we have been unable to recognize on our own… Simply telling others about our defects can help reduce their power over us. And just having someone listen to us in our struggles is often the very help we need.”
Step 7 is an act of faith and an act of Grace; which is defined as the infinite love, mercy, favor and goodwill shown to humankind by the Creator. I had no issues with believing and coming to know a Higher Power and I had spent so many years practicing deep self-reflection that I didn’t have a problem digging into the wrongs I had done and the character defects and fears that were at the root of them. However, I had developed such a self-loathing on such a deep level that I didn’t believe I deserved God’s assistance, even if He could give it to me. My thought was “Why would God help me?”
This is of course, a very subtle and deceptive form of egotism. The notion that I DESERVE to suffer is just as self-centered as the idea that I deserve to have whatever I want. While this self-loathing is definitely still there, I have learned how to work with it and neutralize it in more effective ways than before. I do this through Prayer and Surrender.
I completed my Seventh Step on the night before my Ordination into the Priesthood. I got down on me knees in front of my Teacher’s altar and recited the following Seventh Step Prayer from the Blue Book:
“My Creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad. I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character, which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows. Grant me strength, as I go out from here, to do your bidding. Amen.”
When I said that prayer, I was NOT magically “cured” of my character defects. There is nothing in this step or any other that says we will be magically turned into a perfect person. It is progress, not perfection we are looking for. We are simply shining a light into ourselves and learning to let go of the lower mind’s stranglehold on our reality, bit by bit.
My character defects present themselves every day of my life thus far, and every day I need to make a conscious effort to recognize, resolve and surrender them, or they will take root and the work of digging them up becomes a bit more of a pain-in-the-ass. I try to consciously say a version of the Seventh Step Prayer every day after I partake of Communion:
“My Creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad; dark and light. I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character that stands in the way of my service to you and my fellow beings. I surrender these things unto the (Holy) Spirit. May they be transmuted and my body filled with the Light (of Christ). Grant me strength and courage as I go from here to do thy will. Amen.”
While saying this prayer, I feel and envision the process of surrender of these “negative” energies in an upward motion, where they are taken into a vortex and reconstituted. From this vortex descends a golden Light that fills my body that is now ready to receive it, having been purged of energetic patters that were blocking it before. My body is filled with this Light, and I peacefully sit for a moment, glowing, having faith that indeed this inner alchemy has taken place. Alchemically I could liken this Seventh Step to reaching up to the Seventh Heaven, or to the Seventh Chakra which is the gateway to the Divine.
Later that day, I very well may find myself acting upon my character defects again and the process continues. But for that moment of reaching out in humility; for every little moment I surrender to this process in fullness, I am one step further into realizing the Wholeness of Being in Spirit.
All things happen in God’s time, and God’s time is eternal. We have our particular brand of character defects for a reason that is unique to the needs of our spiritual growth and development. Our character defects can even serve as aids to the spiritual growth and development of others, either through empathy or through conflict. The Green Book sheds light on this:
“We… discover that our character defects can become useful in God’s hands. Our struggles with our own shortcomings can help us to understand and empathize with the struggles of others and to reach out… by sharing our own experience, strength, and hope. Aspects of ourselves that we were ashamed of and tried to keep hidden can sometimes blossom unexpectedly into gifts that enrich our recovery, when brought into the light of a loving Higher Power. Anger may contain the seeds of courage; envy can turn to empathy; self-centered pride may grow into a healthy self-love. Each character defect we turn over to God becomes one more way of opening ourselves to God’s care.”
Surrender isn’t something that we can force if we are not ready. Again, this takes time and it is imperative that we are understanding and gentle with ourselves, while still holding ourselves accountable. Sometimes we may even have to “fake it til we make it”, but again, little by little, bit by bit, the Light inevitably comes into those dark places until we are indeed living in a new state of being. Until next time, Namaste and God Bless.