Here are the steps we took: 6) Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
That is what the authors of the Big Book and millions before you did. To personalize the step for your study and action in the here and now, however, you may wish to rephrase it as:
STEP SIX. I am entirely ready for God to remove all my defects of character
READING FOR STEP SIX
|Big Book:Chapter 6, Into Action.Page 76, paragraph 1, line 1-712&12:Step 6|
You have noticed that discussion of step 6 in the Big Book is but 5 sentences in 7 lines. We will look at each of these sentences in turn.
Sentence #1. If we can answer to our satisfaction, we then look at Step Six.
[Big Book, page 76, line 1
What are we answering? On the prior page we are instructed to do certain things after completion of step 5, including:
Carefully reading the first five proposals we ask if we have omitted anything, for we are building an arch through which we shall walk a free man at last.
[Big Book, page 75, line 29]
Your arch spans 7 of the 12 steps. It was entered in step 3, when you decided to turn your life and will over to the care of your understanding of God. Upon completion of step 9, which you are yet to do, you will have entered the "realm of the spirit" (step10).
But wait a minute. The design is not yours. Then whose design (path) is this?
RARELY HAVE WE seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path.
[Big Book, page 58, line 2]
Both you and the new man must walk day by day in the path of spiritual progress. [
Big Book, page 100, line 6]
Time after time, this apparent calamity has been a boon to us, for it opened up a path which led to the discovery of God.
[Big Book, page 116, line 15]
And where do we build our arch?
But be sure you are on solid spiritual ground before you start and that your motive in going is thoroughly good.
[Big Book, page 102, line 4]
With what do we build?
When, therefore, we were approached by those in whom the problem had been solved, there was nothing left for us but to pick up the simple kit of spiritual tools laid at our feet.
[Big Book, page 25, line 13]
"God, I offer myself to Thee-to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt.
[Big Book, page 63, line 15]
The portion of a structure upon which all else (even the foundation) rests is the footing.
He provided what we needed, if we kept close to Him and performed His work well. Established on such a footing we became less and less interested in ourselves, our little plans and designs. [
Big Book, page 63 line 5]
The foundation itself is described in some detail in the Big Book:
Upon a foundation of complete willingness I might build what I saw in my friend.
[Big Book, page 12, line 22]
Helping others is the foundation stone of your recovery.
[Big Book, page 97, line 5]
...let him go as far as he likes in helping other alcoholics. During those first days of convalescence, this will do more to insure his sobriety than anything else. Though some of his manifestations are alarming and disagreeable, we think dad will be on a firmer foundation than the man who is placing business or professional success ahead of spiritual development.
[Big Book, page 130, line 2]
Twelve–Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our Traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.
[Big Book, page 564, line 31]
We should take special note of the keystone of the arch. It is the stone in the center at the top. Both sides of the arch rest upon it. Without the keystone, the whole structure would collapse. Because your arch is spiritual, rather than material, the keystone symbolizes something other than stone.
...we decided that hereafter in this drama of life, God was going to be our Director. He is the Principal; we are His agents. He is the Father, and we are His children. Most good ideas are simple, and this concept was the keystone...
[Big Book, page 62, line 27]
We have all heard of a cornerstone. To a mason, it is the first stone laid. It is also a stone forming a part of a corner or angle in a wall, especially a stone lying at the foundation of a principal angle, specifically one laid at the formal inauguration of the erection of a building, usually inscribed with the date or other matters and often hollowed out to receive documents, records or other relics. In a more general sense, a cornerstone is something of fundamental importance; a trait or fact upon which others rest as if forming a superstructure. In the latter sense it is akin to a keystone.
"Do I now believe, or am I even willing to believe, that there is a Power greater than myself?" As soon as a man can say that he does believe, or is willing to believe, we emphatically assure him that he is on his way. It has been repeatedly proven among us that upon this simple cornerstone a wonderfully effective spiritual structure can be built. [
Big Book, page 47, line 20]
For the first time, he lived in conscious companionship with his Creator. Thus was our friend's cornerstone fixed in place.
[Big Book, page 56, line 31]
And what binds the stones together?
The feeling of having shared in a common peril is one element in the powerful cement which binds us.
[Big Book, page 17, line 19]
Entry into the Arch, however, is barred to those without the Key.
We turned back to the list (our fourth step inventory), for it held the key to the future.
[Big Book, page 66, line 23]
Cling to the thought that, in God's hands, the dark past is the greatest possession you have—the key to life and happiness for others.
[Big Book, page 124, line 22]
Meanwhile, back at the conclusion of step five we are directed to review the adequacy of our construction:
Are the stones properly in place?
[Big Book, page 75, line 30]
Have we skimped on the cement put into the foundation?
[Big Book, page 75, line 31]
Have we tried to make mortar without sand?
[Big Book, page 75, line 32]
If the job so far is acceptable, then you may be ready for step 6 and the destiny that is about to unfold for you.
We found the Great Reality deep down within us. In the last analysis it is only there that He may be found. It was so with us. We can only clear the ground a bit. If our testimony helps sweep away prejudice, enables you to think honestly, encourages you to search diligently within yourself, then, if you wish, you can join us on the Broad Highway
[Big Book, page 55, line 23]
Sentence #2. We have emphasized willingness as being indispensable.
[Big Book page 76, line 2]
The alcoholic mind has little difficulty in translating indispensable to suggested. But if our foundation is one of complete willingness, can we do without it?
Willingness is the foundation of abstinence!
when the broker gave him Dr. Silkworth's description of alcoholism and its hopelessness, the physician began to pursue the spiritual remedy for his malady with a willingness he had never before been able to muster. He sobered, never to drink again up to the moment of his death in 1950.
[Big Book page xvi, line 27]
There is the type of man who is unwilling to admit that he cannot take a drink. He plans various ways of drinking. He changes his brand or his environment.
[Big Book page xxviii, line 13]
I ruthlessly faced my sins and became willing to have my new-found Friend take them away, root and branch. I have not had a drink since.
[Big Book page 13, line 11]
But this man still lives, and is a free man. He does not need a bodyguard nor is he confined. He can go anywhere on this earth where other free men may go without disaster, provided he remains willing to maintain a certain simple attitude.
[Big Book page 27, line 1]
MOST OF US have been unwilling to admit we were real alcoholics. No person likes to think he is bodily and mentally different from his fellows.
[Big Book page 30, line 1]
On the third day the lawyer gave his life to the care and direction of his Creator, and said he was perfectly willing to do anything necessary.
[Big Book page 13, line 33]
Willingness is the foundation of belief in God:
I stood in the sunlight at last. It was only a matter of being willing to believe in a Power greater than myself. Nothing more was required of me to make my beginning.
[Big Book page 12, line 18]
There had been a humble willingness to have Him with me—and He came.
[Big Book page 12, line 31]
We have no desire to convince anyone that there is only one way by which faith can be acquired. If what we have learned and felt and seen means anything at all, it means that all of us, whatever our race, creed, or color are the children of a living Creator with whom we may form a relationship upon simple and understandable terms as soon as we are willing and honest enough to try..
[Big Book page 28, line 20]
We found that as soon as we were able to lay aside prejudice and express even a willingness to believe in a Power greater than ourselves, we commenced to get results, even though it was impossible for any of us to fully define or comprehend that Power, which is God.
[Big Book page 46, line 16]
We needed to ask ourselves but one short question. "Do I now believe, or am I even willing to believe, that there is a Power greater than myself?" As soon as a man can say that he does believe, or is willing to believe, we emphatically assure him that he is on his way.
[Big Book page 47, line 14]
What is this but a miracle of healing? Yet its elements are simple. Circumstances made him willing to believe. He humbly offered himself to his Maker—then he knew. Even so has God restored us all to our right minds. To this man, the revelation was sudden. Some of us grow into it more slowly. But He has come to all who have honestly sought Him. When we drew near to Him He disclosed Himself to us!
[Big Book page 57, line 36
The point is, that we are willing to grow along spiritual lines..
[Big Book page 60, line 9]
He can choose any conception he likes, provided it makes sense to him. The main thing is that he be willing to believe in a Power greater than himself and that he live by spiritual principles.
[Big Book page 93, line 8]
Willingness is the foundation of a sober life:
Belief in the power of God, plus enough willingness, honesty and humility to establish and maintain the new order of things, were the essential requirements.
[Big Book page 13, line 33]
If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it-then you are ready to take certain steps.
[Big Book page 58, line 25]
For the type of alcoholic who is able and willing to get well, little charity, in the ordinary sense of the word, is needed or wanted
[Big Book page 97, line 33]
To duplicate, with such backing, what we have accomplished is only a matter of willingness, patience and labor.
[Big Book page 163, line 8]
We find that no one need have difficulty with the spirituality of the program. Willingness, honesty and open mindedness are the essentials of recovery. But these are indispensable
[Big Book page 570, line 12].
Sentence #3. Are (you) ready to let God remove from (you) all the things which (you) have admitted are objectionable?
[Big Book page 76, line 3]
Please note that this step does not include willingness to have God remove your nagging spouse, the law suit your neighbor slapped upon you, the court appearance you are facing nor your swollen liver, even though you may be willing to have them removed. We are dealing here with your defects, not those of the world. If you reflect upon the papers you carried away from step 5, one of them was a listing of your character defects. These are the things which you have "admitted are objectionable". Go through your list again. For each item, ask yourself if you are willing to have it removed.
Most of us were not totally willing to have all of our character defects removed totally right away. Pick out an easy one, and become willing to have it removed immediately. Then, pick out a harder one, and nibble around the edges of its desirability. Help yourself be more willing for its removal than you were before. For the really tough ones, pray for willingness to become willing. However, don't postpone Step Seven until you are totally willing to have them all eradicated. Flush your defects one at a time. "Divide and conquer", you know.
One measure of your willingness to be free of a defect is to stop reinforcing it. Don't do it anymore. Or, more practically, postpone its next reinforcement as long as you can. Learn from the experience of defect-relapse. What are the triggers? What, if any, are the benefits? What are some other tools for postponement/eradication that you have not tried?
Here is a little practice we encountered that is helpful. It is called:
|Awareness. Until we admit awareness of a problem or a character defect, we cannot possibly let it go. Steps 4 and 5 apply here.|
|Attitude. This is the willingness A. Do we justify our thoughts or actions? Do we want to keep doing what we are doing and get different results? We must not only be willing to let it go, we must stop hanging onto it. This is Step 6.|
|Alternatives. What are the various actions or inactions that we might employ to have our defect removed? One of these, certainly, is Step 7! Talk around among trusted folks. What have they done that worked? Do some more research (not the experience of repeating the defect, but the learning variety).|
|Attunement. This the first action. Because it is so vital, it has its own A. Take Step 7, and ask God to relieve you from your defects of character, habits that are incompatible with His path for you, wrong thoughts and actions. Take Steps 2, 3, and 11 every day as often as you can. The payoffs in A.A. are wondrous, but they come in phases: (a) we are no longer drunk, and we are delighted, (b) we discover a magnificent fellowship to which we can belong in acceptance and grace, (c) we are reconciled with our families, our work, and our neighbors, and we are grateful, (d) we come to know who we are and we become whole, and (e) we know and love the perfection of the Spirit within us and we are awakened to the truth of the universe,|
|Action. In Steps 8 and 9 make a plan for amending the past, and do it. Implicit in this is your discontinuing to reinforce the defect by not practicing it. Privately forgive all those whom you still resent. As a result, guilt, shame, remorse and self-loathing will be removed. Select a promising alternative, and put it to work. Keep at it. If appropriate, keep a notebook in your pocket to record relapses (of the character defect, not the drinking, we hope) and retries until you see real progress. Associate with persons, places and things that will reinforce your growth. In Step 10 revisit all five A's. Through Step 11, follow the direction of God in your life, and be a changed person as you get into service to your fellows, especially suffering alcoholics.|
Sentences #4 & #5. Can He now take them all—every one? If (you) still cling to something (you) will not let go,... ask God to help (you) be willing. [Big Book page 76, line 5]
We know of one fifth step partner who, upon completion of a friend's fifth, would produce the character defect list, and they would both go through it, checking off each defect that applied. The stepping friend would then go outside with his inventory, the list of defects, and a large brass urn. He would sit in the yard taking step six alone with his Father, performing the reflection described in the Big Book. When entirely ready, the inventory and the defects were solemnly burned in the urn. The symbolism was total willingness to be cleansed of these defects in the healing presence of God.
Step 7 followed immediately. The principle of step 6 is