O.k., your almost finished. Remember you didn't drink cause you were molested, abused, mistreated or an outcast there are other people who have been molested, abused, mistreated or an outcast and they didn't drink alcoholically.
So, give your Mama, Daddy, Sister, Brother, Aunt, Uncle, Grandma and friends a break!
Stop feeling sorry for yourself! You now have a chance to create a new life! Take advantage of it!
"DON'T MESS WITH IT AND IT WON'T MESS WITH YOU"
Now let's get started...
Here are the steps we took: 9) Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, possible except when to do so would injure them or others.
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:
Make direct amends to the people you have harmed except when to do so would injure them or others.
READING FOR STEP NINE
Big Book:Chapter 6, Into Action.From: Page 82, line 17 Thru: Page 84, line 15.12&12:Step 9
Our experience with Step Nine prompts us to emphasize four ideas about this step. 1. Token amends will not do!Just what is an amend? Here is what our trusty dictionary says:
a-mend :(uh mend') v. . v.t.2. to change for the better; improve.3. to remove or correct faults in; rectify.v.i. <4. to grow or become better by reforming oneself.
Later in this document you will see an extraction of words and phrases that the authors of the Big Book used to describe what they meant by the word amend. Their true meaning, while including the definition above, is more like the synonyms for the word, rectify:
rectify : v.1. right, set right, put right, make right, correct, adjust, regulate, straighten, square; focus, attune; mend, amend, emend, fix, repair, revise; remedy, redress, cure, reform.
One might even use the definition of the word, "repair", to express their meaning:
re-pair : (ri pâr') -paired, -pair-ing . v.t.1. to restore to a good or sound condition after decay or damage; mend.2. to restore or renew.3. to remedy; make up for; compensate for.
Extracted words and phrases as examples of "amends":
BB = the Big Book of A.A., Alcoholics Anonymous 12&12 = Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions
SELF CORRECTION ...sweep away the debris which has accumulated out of our effort to live on self-will. [BB, page 76, line 22] ...demonstration of good will [BB, page 77, line 13] ...sweep off our side of the street [BB, page 77, line 32] ...sit down with the family and frankly analyze the past as we now see it. [BB, page 83, line 2] ...We clean house with the family... [BB, page 83, line 7] ...asking each morning in meditation that our Creator show us the way of patience, tolerance, kindliness and love. [BB, page 83, line 8] ...The spiritual life is not a theory. We have to live it.. [BB, page 83, line 11] ...Our behavior will convince them more than our words. [BB, page 83, line 15] ...There may be some wrongs we can never fully right. [BB, page 83, line 19] ...Some people cannot be seen—we send them an honest letter. [BB, page 83, line 22] ...We should be sensible, tactful, considerate and humble without being servile or scraping. [BB, page 83, line 25]
RESTITUTION ...repair the damage [we have] done in the past. [BB, page 76, line 21] ...set right the wrong [BB, page 77, line 12] ...straighten out the past [BB, page 77, line 32] ...arranging the best deal...[of repayment]...we can [BB, page 78, line 21] ...reparations [BB, page 79, line 5] ...sent...money [BB, page 79, line 29] ...willing to go to jail [BB, page 79, line 30] ...make a public statement [BB, page 80, line 15] ...[make]...good to the wife or parents [BB, page 82, line 19] ...reconstruction [BB, page 83, line 1]
APOLOGY ...confessing our former ill feeling [BB, page 77, line 27] ...expressing our regret [BB, page 77, line 27] ...we let these people know we are sorry [BB, page 78, line 21] ...admitting faults [BB, page 79, line 28] ...admit our fault [BB, page 81, line 21] ...asking forgiveness [BB, page 79, line 28] ...A remorseful mumbling that we are sorry won't fill the bill at all. [BB, page 83, line 2]
2. Don't rush into amends without guidance. You can mess up yourself and others unless the best judgment is used. And, when we are new to sobriety, our judgment is often not so swift. Please read again the words we offered for Step Eight, which is the planning of your amendment step. 3. Your amends must never harm others. Both of the books make clear that we cannot seek atonement at the expense of others. Be especially careful not to implicate or injure other people in your wrong-doing. 4. Don't forget to take the hidden step–forgiveness. You will recall that in Step Four you listed the people who had harmed you as part of your resentment matrix. None of the steps emphasizes sufficiently that the ultimate process of resentment eradication (and they must be wiped out) is forgiveness of those we resent. If you have not yet cleaned up your resentments, finish them off in Step Nine. It then becomes the double-edged sword that cuts you free from all harms done by you and to you. There is a difference between being forgiven and forgiving, however. Our amends to those we have harmed are made at our own initiative and directly to the person harmed, whenever possible. On the other hand, when we are forgiving others, it is rarely appropriate to approach them to let them know they are forgiven. Why?
They might have no idea that we have resented them. After all, the resentment is ours. Letting them in on our problem cannot do them any good, and may cause them considerable hurt feelings or aggravation–even anger.
We have been learning not to play God and to avoid ego-serving activities. Approaching other to let them know they are forgiven would usually be thought of as self-serving. This we avoid.
If, on the other hand, the injuring party has let us know that they feel guilt about what they have done, it can often be a true act of kindness to let them know they are off the hook as far as we are concerned. We do this with true humility and compassion. We never give the impression that they owe us something for our act of forgiveness. We then try to treat them the way we want others to forgive us for our own wrongs. Some of our members believe that the other side of the forgiveness coin, that we are forgiven for our transgressions, is a necessary goal of Step 9. There is no need at all that we be forgiven by the person we have harmed after we make an amend. If they choose to tell us we are forgiven, that is a fine gesture–one we might cherish. However, the real goal here is that you cease to know guilt stemming from your prior acts or omissions. The removal of guilt is the exclusive domain of your spiritual power.
You may also wish to visit Forgiveness On your way. Your Step 9 can last from several weeks to many years. Start it when you have finished step 8 and are told to do so. Continue until you are done. PROMISES OF STEP NINE Here are the 20 promises starting at the bottom of page 83 in the Big Book. Some people think these are the only promises the Big Book makes. Little do they realize that each step has a set of promises, and that there are many more besides. There are even a few guarantees. Drop us a line if you have found the 173 promises and guarantees in the Big Book that we have found.
If we are painstaking about this phase of our development,
we will be amazed before we are half way through.
We are going to know a new freedom
and a new happiness.
We will not regret the past
nor wish to shut the door on it.
We will comprehend the word serenity and
we will know peace.
No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others.
That feeling of uselessness (will disappear)
and self-pity will disappear.
We will lose interest in selfish things and
(we will) gain interest in our fellows.
Self-seeking will slip away.
Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change.
Fear of people (will leave us) and
(fear) of economic insecurity will leave us.
We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us.
We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.
Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us—sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly.
They will always materialize if we work for them.
Writing: It would be a good idea to update your amendment plan (step eight) when each amendment is done. Check it off. Make a note as to their reaction. If an agreement was reached concerning further action on your part, write it down. We even know one sponsor who keeps Step 8 lists of his step partners on a computer (on an encrypted file for total privacy). Every month or so, the list us made current. The principle of Step 9 _______________________.
When the boisterous child is confronted after knocking the vase off the table, perhaps his most common answer is “I didn't mean to.” The implication is that he did not premeditate the action and that he would have preferred to not have done it. In other words, he is expressing the idea that he is sorry.
However, as the alcoholic in your sponsorship compiles his list of “persons we had harmed” (BB p59) mentioned in Step 8, the situation quickly becomes a little more complicated. A good place to start is with the question of “How, exactly, was this harm done?” The answers, although in no way providing anything similar to a “Get Out of Jail Free” card to the new member, will provide a beneficial guide for understanding the matters which are placed on the list.
Step 8: “Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.” (BB p59)
The "list" idea, of course, comes from the strong suggestion made in the Big Book's discussion of Step 4's inventory, "In dealing with resentments, we set them down on paper." (BB p64) We have already mentioned that one of the three tools of our spiritual malady is confusion. The idea of writing the details of Step 8's targeted behavior down on paper is to eliminate the opportunity for exploiting any confusion about what's on the list, not on the list, and so on. The central matter at hand is too important to risk being distracted by a “dust storm” of “maybe, maybe not” type confusion arising from an alcoholic run-around.
Once that matter is in hand, his list can be discussed in sponsorship in a manner consistent with the AA program's insistence on frankness and honesty. This means that the two of you will have to consider each element on his list, arriving at conclusions about each entry which can be agreed on with confidence. The sponsee must be confident that Step 8's work is objectively defined by the final decision regarding his amends.
His being willing1 to make the amends arising from the contents of Step 8's list will be much more likely when he has confidence that he has included everything that is essential and discarded other matters which are not. The progress he has already made in his previous step work has either prepared him for this next work or it has not. If it hasn't, re-visiting Step 7 may be a good investment of sponsorship time.2 Always remember the “breathtaking” nature of making firm plans to take one's spiritual progress “on the road.” Although Step 8 and 9 represent a much more public approach to his recovery, one which may seem drastic to him, we can reassure him about both their necessity and their great promise based on our own experiences.
Returning to the theme of our three perceptions of the results of the disease of alcoholism, that is, behavior, psychology and spirit, we can look at the items on his Step 8 list in this light. Such a frame of reference can even further increase the clarity of what might have otherwise seemed to be different, confusing features of what he has placed on the list -- and in his past.
We will separate the contents of the list into three convenient groups.
Injuries caused by being a drunk,
injuries caused by having untreated alcoholism, and,
injuries which he must have caused based on his terrible feelings afterwards.
Naturally, all three types flow together in the larger, consolidated idea about our disease, but imposing such divisions can make the respective starting points of your discussion of each item more clear. Everything he has presented here must emerge into the “light of day.”3
Group 1: Injuries caused by being a drunk
The two most common and most grave entries in this group will very often be matters of physical violence and everything having to do with matters such as drunk driving, regardless of the outcome. However, there are many more possibilities which enjoy a “full membership” in this part of his list. Further, although Group 1 “injuries” are certain to necessarily involve actions with such direct physical qualities, we alcoholics seem very adept at accomplishing some such things with just our mouths alone! We will separate those less tangible harms into the following group.
Of course the difficulty we face here is partially based, once again, on those around us having a non-alcoholic view of our actions. When they observed – or suffered – this type of behavior on our part while we were drunk, they measured us by their non-alcoholic standards. In their minds, they asked themselves something akin to “Why is he doing that? I can't imagine myself doing such a thing, so why did he do it? Did he do this just because he was drunk? I don't seem to do anything like that when I'm drunk.”4
Here, the new man might be reminded of the frequently cited AA idea: “I didn't get into trouble every time I drank, but every time I got into trouble, I was drinking.” It seems clear that “being drunk” for us alcoholics very often meant something rather different from “being drunk” for the non-alcoholic. At least it seems that “being drunk” for us led to quite different kinds of consequences – in the context of Step 8, much more serious consequences!
Further, we have to wonder whether those differences can really be explained simply by the fact that we might have been significantly more drunk – that is, had more to drink – than such non-alcoholic observers comparing our actions to their own. The same questionable line of reasoning can be applied to the idea that we were simply drunk more often or more of the time. Most thoughtful AA's suspect that there may have been more at play in such affairs than simply the amount of liquor we had consumed, how often we drank that quantity or how much of the time we were drunk. Such a possibility becomes very much a relevant factor as we consider this group of injuries on the new man's Step 8 list.
In fact, in a way fundamentally different than the behavior of the drunk non-alcoholic, we seemed quite inclined to “go the extra mile” in our alcoholic drinking as we seemed to be chasing down those consequences. Unlike the drunk non-alcoholic, who may have simply “wandered into getting drunk” or even setting “getting drunk” as the goal of his actions, we seemed to have taken the task much further. Of course, on these occasions “getting drunk” was very squarely on our agenda, but we didn't seem to ever stop there! In this sense, Step 8's list of how we harmed others may have certainly “set the stage” by our being drunk, but our actions seem to have an even deeper, more sinister motivation to them.5
Letting ourselves “off the hook” with an explanation of such harmful action as being simply being the result of “impaired judgement” or “not paying attention” because we were drunk is a little too suspiciously opportunistic. If such an excuse really made sense, the non-alcoholics would have created the same amount of damaging chaos we did while they were drunk. They usually didn't. We usually did!
So, as we discuss this group of inflicted harms on the new member's list, there can't really be much cover behind the idea that such actions were nothing more than drunken clumsiness or momentary instances of drunken thoughtlessness. Behind every one of these we find dangerous evidence of alcoholic thinking. The destruction resulting from a serious episode of drunk driving or the injuries of a vicious parking lot fight outside a bar represent much more than a mere drunken lapse of judgement or attention. Injuries caused in instances such as these, clearly, are the products of sick, alcoholic thinking when it was unleashed in a moment of drunken rage, lubricated by enough liquor.
However, if the sponsorship discussion of this section of Step 8's list ends with only the results of such behaviour, that is, the consequences or outcomes of it, while overlooking the alcoholic causes of it, the most important part of its transformative possibilities is in danger of being missed altogether.
The contents of this group in Step 8's list tend to be those with unavoidably tangible, physical consequences. Maybe the new man took a poke at his reluctant girlfriend, threw her television off the balcony or abused his baby for incessantly crying, and so on. There is no particular limit to the possible variety of such injuries. In most cases, not too many accounts of harm of this nature are stricken from the list before it advances into Step 9.
Their inclusion in Step 8 is rarely questioned.
Group 2: Injuries caused by untreated alcoholism
Once the “walking wounded” have been collected in the first group of “harms done other people,” the new man's list must move on to more subtle, but equally serious, injuries. Granted, any injury on his list could, theoretically, make the conceptual journey from Group 1 to Group 2 or vice versa when considered carefully enough, but segregating them in this way may shed light on a more complete view of the consequences of the alcoholic spiritual malady.
An identical admonition to inventory's “fearless and thorough”6 is completely suitable for Step 8's list. The goal is to completely reveal the unsuccessful parts of alcoholism once and for all. There is nothing to be gained by omitting something important from the new man's alcoholic history.
If the first group can be characterized as “emergency room” or “drunk tank” style injuries, those in the second group can be thought of as injuries resulting in intimate conferences with priests or psychiatrists. When the motivations of our spiritual malady become material, we have been motivated to hurt peoples' feelings, discourage those who care about us and disgust many others who simply “didn't deserve it.” Stealing, wrecking and violence belong in the first group. The second group will include everything from mean spirited gossip, hateful comments or selfishly exaggeratingto incite others to, finally, all sorts of outright lying – both to protect ourselves and to damage others in acts triggered by alcoholic fear or revenge.
Such acts represent “social injuries,”7 that is, injuries which can be defined as striking out to attack others no matter what excuse or reason might be given. Unlike those in Group 1, this type of injury, although gravely damaging, could not usually be presented as a complaint in a court of law. However, it is important for the new man to fully realize that such actions are just as complicit as their Group 1 predecessors in thoroughly wrecking the alcoholic's life – not only with respect to those he harmed, but also with respect to his own, sober, honest view of himself.
Fear, especially fear of humiliation, has placed many of us in situations where the only action which seemed to make sense at the time resulted in the injuries on the list. The new member's work on Steps 8 and 9 has as its goal a new, much more successful idea of “what makes sense.” And, by “successful,” we mean both with rectifying the harm done to others and with gaining a new respect for oneself.
We can describe the acts which resulted in Group 2's list as products of untreated alcoholism, but we know that, suspiciously often, there was not really even any actual drinking involved. Maybe not even the night before! Realizing this important point leads us all to the chilling conclusion that many of the elements on the Step 8 list arose specifically from alcoholic thinking plagued by the constant influence of the spiritual malady.
Group 3: Injuries which he must have caused based on his terrible feelings afterwards
Groups 1 and 2 share the common thread of involving victims. The injuries listed in the final list, Group 3, seem to largely exist in the absence of victims. His horror from these acts stems from just that idea! Perhaps, in this part of the Step 8 list we find harmful acts which, when accompanied by a sufficiently long, alcoholic justification, actually seem to be acceptable or justifiable. However, the fact that the new man has placed these encounters on his Step 8 list suggests that he still suffers from their – in his mind – unjustifiable nature.
To put it bluntly, he can no longer find refuge in the excuses he has previously used to excuse his behavior in these matters, even when “everyone who saw what happened and, possibly, even the poor soul who found himself on the receiving end might be convinced that no “harm” had actually been done.
Exceptions which might arise from this category of injuries may be just as important as the instances which remain once the exceptions are eliminated. The sponsor has his work cut out as he assists the new member in separating Step 8's list into categories.
Alcoholics love to control things, and selecting what will be a part of Group 3 Injuries and what will be excluded is no exception. Not infrequently, the new man's alcoholism might begin to insist that injuries such as the ones in Group 3 have, actually, never been inflicted. However, common sense -- and the detachment of a sponsor from the immediacy of the facts -- suggests two cases where "control issues" can cause trouble.
In the first case, alcoholic "control" may demand that an injury was caused when the proposed "victim" of that injury doesn't see it that way at all. In the second case, alcoholic "control" spurs a literal, and destructive, festival of mea culpa where the entirety of real injuries is not considered to be damaging enough and more, less substantial or even imaginary injuries must be added to the list to make it sufficiently painful.
This last dangerous inclination is little more than another slip from reality just as grave as purposefully underestimating the seriousness of injuries might be in the opposing case. Both instances can be a convenient foundation for a new hopelessness which can lead to the idea that Steps 8 and 9 can't actually be accomplished after all, and that can become an excuse for more drinking.
In these cases, the “trail of evidence” both begins and ends in his own thoughts about himself. There are many other examples of “justified speech,” where even the person at whom the comments were directed has been convinced that he deserved such treatment. There are “acts of reciprocity” where the new man's injuries at the hands of others seemed to justify a vicious character assassination in return.
It matters little whether the other participants in these matters feel “unfairly” injured or not. If the new man feels that he has caused them harm, even harm somehow made justifiable, onto the list they go! His inner feelings about these things are more than enough to qualify their addition to the Step 8 list.
The Other Side of Step 8's List – Removing Names and Causes
Before the new man's list moves ahead to Step 9's amends, he may have a very serious need for the detached judgement of a sincere, involved sponsor. Some AA's don't seem to be satisfied with anything even close to a reasonable and effective list of amends. Instead, they suspect that nothing less that a literal “Roman spectacle” of vast contrition will suffice to get this part of their step work done in a convincing way which will deliver the necessary transformation. If this is the case with your new member, some items on his list may need to be explained and removed before he moves ahead.
After all, isn't self-seeking (BB p62) one the alcoholic coping skills noted in Chapter Five? We have already defined this manifestation of self as his attempt to assist others as they come to conclusions about himself -- the alcoholic. If the new man is exaggerating his abilities to inflict harm on others in an attempt to aggrandize himself, the sponsor should quickly intervene. Such a point of view suggests that the new man is still relying on his imaginary, alcoholic ability to control what others think of him, in this case by attempting to impress his sponsor with his “power” to harm others. Of course, Step 8 is a great place for such habits to end. Permanently.
A slightly different case may arise from the new member who has become convinced that absolutely every action he has ever taken has resulted in some kind of harm to others. The key here is the idea of “absolutely.” If every action he has ever taken has resulted in harm, he may have slithered back under cover of the “hopelessness” idea, that is, he may be trying to convince himself –- and his sponsor -- that he has been so damaged by his alcoholism that he is now pure evil.
The idea of a continuum of actual possibilities may come to play an important role with a sponsee like this. His spiritual malady has compelled him to adopt the idea that his “harm doing” proclivities have become so prevalent in his character that he is helpless to resist them. His sponsor may need to reassure the new man about the idea that, although he may not be able to perfectly and completely eliminate such impulses, he is expected to energetically resist them whenever possible! At least as many of them as possible, and that means “possible without any excuses...” – while he builds the spiritual strength to constantly improve.
There seems to be yet another possible reason for the “removal” of harms included on the new man's Step 8 list. Although perhaps a rare exclusion from the collection of Step 8 “harms,” there remains, at least theoretically, a possible injury which belongs to none of the three groups and might be explained in some way other than alcoholic thinking, spiritual malady or alcoholic behavior. Such matters, when considered this way, represent essentially non-alcoholic acts which caused injury, that is, acts which would have still occurred even if the new man had never become an alcoholic.
For the sponsor there is little reason to waste much time on these possible exclusions. They can be removed or left. Little harm will result from their being treated with the same approach as any of the others. This point is included here only because this situation has arisen in sponsorship experience.
Screw-ups fit quite comfortably in his continuum of possible outcomes for such a spiritual effort, but excuses don't. He already knows that there will be successes and disappointments in his journey to recovery. The one factor which is not allowed is a return to alcoholic hopelessness. That one is a dangerous setback, indeed. Step 8 is a great place to tell him again! His reasonable expectation of a temporarily incomplete and imperfect, but improving, recovery, one marked by both successes and failures, is entirely workable. One marked by his descent into alcoholic frustration with its imperfection when that leads to hopelessness may, very well, not be workable
In any event, the new man's judgement of himself and his prospects for recovery may have been fairly well “hammered” by his transit through his most recent step work. The sponsor's role is to keep things on the new man's Step 8 list “the right size,” that is, no tougher than they need to be but also not any less tough, either. As he advances toward his amends in Step 9, he should be convinced that such a drastic action produces the results he seeks. It will.
Different Images of Step 8
Unlike the relatively stable environment of many of the AA's represented in the Big Book (BB p76 –p83), many new members have arrived at AA only after traveling a bit – what many of our members refer to as a “geographic.” Not surprisingly, much of this travel has been undertaken to avoid the consequences of alcoholic drinking, thinking and behavior.
One unavoidable result of this mobile behavior is leaving a “wake” of alcoholic wreckage literally all over the place. For this reason, the completeness of the new man's Step 8 list offers an invitation for him to thoroughly account – to the great benefit of his step work, although not necessarily his active amends – for his sincere observations of this part of his history.
If he blew his stack at a ticket counter in the Duluth bus station six years ago, the fact that he recalls the matter makes it a good addition to his list. However, will it mean a three day trip back to Duluth to direct his amends to someone who, most likely, will no longer even be there? After all, Step 8 says, pointedly,“... and became willing to make amends to them all.” (BB p59) There will be many instances where a sponsor's sincere judgement on such matters will be necessary to keep the new man's step work on track.
One Source of the Names on the List: Absolutist Thinking
Although our Big Book describes the feelings alcoholics experience in great detail, blistering resentments, silent, unnamed terror, anger, the desolation of having been betrayed and that awful alcoholic loneliness – along with many others, we have to assume that even these are symptoms of a deeper problem. As mentioned earlier, having the dark outlook of the alcoholic's spiritual malady, the deceptive parts of what we see as “simply trying to survive” lead us to a preposterous state of crazy selfishness. Such an obstacle to normal thinking, although characterized as “selfishness,” inspires the untreated alcoholic to even more fundamental “absolutist thinking” and its predictable consequences.8
Of course, the amends steps deal very squarely with the idea of making right the harm done by previous alcoholic behavior and thinking. However, much as was the case with Step 4's “fearless and thorough” (BB p59) approach to inventory, the list of proposed amends being prepared in Step 8's work can reveal some valuable items all by itself. This means that we can make some useful conclusions about just whom the new man has included on his list.
Who are these people? What was his relationship with them? Where and how did things turn into “harms?” How did these people wind up on his list?
A very valuable direction for sponsorship during his Step 8 work will, of course, return to the enduring theme of the spiritual malady. In this case, the focus will be on the crippling absolutism which seems to inevitably result from having such a twisted outlook on the world and the people around us. This side of alcoholic absolutism – already addressed in the idea of accepting the continuum of possible outcomes as a feature of spiritual progress – can now be re-examined with respect the its impact on friendships, expectations and discouragements, especially in this new, Step 8 forum of observing his “harms” in as frank and constructive manner as possible.
A common handicap to an alcoholic in recovery is founded on this continuing aspect of the same spiritual malady which caused so much trouble. After all, in most cases the “harms” on Step 8's list were not inflicted on strangers. The “harms” developed during – and after – friendships and acquaintances which seemed to be no more than effortless socializing to all of his non-alcoholic friends.
In much the same manner as that described in the Doctor's Opinion's discussion of alcoholic drinking“... drinks which they see others taking with impunity.” (BB pxxix), the new man might see the difficulties in his own efforts at making important, lasting friendships. He saw others (non-alcoholics) making such friendships effortlessly, and he saw such friendships – regardless of how they may have turned out in the end – starting and ending without much “harm” being done. Why weren't his friendships the same? Just as was the case with his drinking, perhaps he continued to attempt these friendships in a manner which seemed to be the same as that of his non-alcoholic friends, but which consistently produced different, less satisfying results. In many cases, enough experiences of this nature may have gradually led him to a state of crushing alcoholic isolation.9
Of course the difference between the “friendship results” of the non-alcoholic and the alcoholic can be largely explained by looking closely at the effects of the spiritual malady on the thoughts of the man with untreated alcoholism. The idea is to change the results by the transformation of thought, feeling and action made possible by spiritual progress, that is, by applying the step work which is the foundation of AA's program of recovery. However, simply wishing to make changes such as these probably won't amount to much unless the effort is accompanied by a thorough understanding of what the problem was in the first place and an idea of the new destination to which one strives.
Step 8's list is yet another place where, with the help of a good sponsor, both this problem and AA's suggestion for the way forward can be revealed in a very useful way.
Although a continuous observation and concentration of the negatives the new man may regret in his past is central, some idea of what may be in his future – however incomplete or inaccurate – is equally worthy. His relationships provide a clear picture of the features he wishes to change about himself, and, as such, they can also provide him a vision of what he wishes to become. A central theme which can address the new man's relationship problems will be changing the old “absolutist” approach alcoholics are prone to take and the inevitable consequences of holding that outlook.
Many of his previous acquaintances, especially those in the second and third groups of “harms" noted above, appearing in his Step 8 list will be the results of this part of his spiritual malady. Spiritual progress in this respect will be a new outlook which reflects the continuum of such possibilities.
The untreated alcoholic's view that the people of the world are threatening rarely provides friend relationships which are “partly threatening,”“more or less threatening,” or even, “a little threatening.” In the depths of alcoholic drinking, all these people become simply “threatening.” We are famous for creating our very own horror movies from even the slightest possible uncertainty about relationships.
We like things “under control,” in fact, our incessant demand for a suffocating control over everything seems to become one of our most destructive habits during our alcoholic drinking. These acquaintances who “strayed out of control,” when exaggerated by absolutist style alcoholic thinking, become dangerous, unpredictable “monsters.”
Likewise, at the other end of the spectrum, alcoholics desperately seeking such control can “decide” that certain acquaintances are entirely“non-threatening.” In fact, thanks to the influence of our dark, absolutist outlook, these folks simply must be “entirely non-threatening!” Here, the “perfection” leg of the disease's three legs manifests itself. When we do this, we elevate such unsuspecting people to literal “sainthood,” an act which -- for the untreated alcoholic -- remains far too similar to yet another tantrum.
Once that step has been taken, we find ourselves remarkably unable to respond reasonably when we are even slightly disappointed with the behavior of our freshly made, personal saint. These feelings appear to be, for example, betrayal, unfairness, insults, cheating and so on. Such encounters, once again, seem to quickly advance beyond our alcoholic control in a very unsettling, fearful, hopeless way. This is a valuable comparison between the more or less normal, human nature of others and our own alcoholic nature. The new member's response to such developments may cast the other “participant” as half victim and half-perpetrator – an invitation to another leg of the disease's three legs: confusion.
Alcoholics know very well the warm reception such matters receive when they are presented for psychological treatment. It seems like what's needed amounts to nothing more than a few “better thoughts,” a challenge well within the province of a modern psychologist. However, more experienced AA's suspect that even the most effective psychological approach will offer only temporary relief.
Determined alcoholics who have worked the steps and recovered are convinced that what is seen here is actually the “tip of the ice berg” of the disease of alcoholism'sspiritual malady. It is a spiritual malady with a spiritual solution. For the alcoholic, even the most sincere efforts at the psychological approach will, sooner or later, fall flat. The names on his Step 8 list are there because of alcoholism.10 The disease is at the root of our “twisted relations. The consequences are evidence of the fact that the previous, alcoholic approach was dismally unsuccessful.
The new man must fully understand this important difference. If he were a non-alcoholic facing such life situations, maybe the psychologist would be a good idea, but for the alcoholic, we know that those life situations are consequences not causes! As the new man works Step 8, the pieces come together. Part of the list emerges from the external world. The rest deals with what it feels like from the inside to desperately and blindly repeat the same approach over and over on our way to our first meeting.
When the alcoholic ends up with what he perceives to be such a case of unfairness, frustration or loneliness as his imagined control of other people in his life falters, his reaction can lead to harmful – or harm causing – consequences, thus adding names to his Step 8 list. Part of recovering spiritually will be a new idea that the people in the new man's life can occupy many, various -- and highly realistic -- places in the continuum between “sainthood” and “monster.”
The preparation of Step 8's list provides a great place to introduce the idea that the new man is actually responsible for placing his acquaintances in an appropriate position between “saint” and “monster.” This is a very definite change – spiritual work – the new man can begin at once. Also, he need not be trapped by his conclusions about people in a paralyzing “lockstep.” His decision to place people in various levels of intimacy, trust, admiration or caution can be adjusted at any time when more information about them becomes available.
This structure of friendship calls for a more realistic appraisal than his old pattern which, thanks to that old dark outlook and dreadful absolutism, simply distributed the people he met into the two extreme possibilities. In fact, at the disastrous nadir of our alcoholism, we rarely even considered the prospects of such a more reasonable approach. This sponsorship suggestion can go a long way toward helping the new man develop better working relationships in his new, sober life. He must begin to realistically identify the people in his life in all the variation we know exists there – girlfriends, plumbers, policemen, bosses, neighbors, fellow AA members, his sponsor -- there is a correct place for everyone. Every such assignment is subject to update and adjustment, but we must begin to make a future sense out of what – and whom – in on his list.
Legal Matters on the Step 8 List
Almost all experienced sponsors can relate to encounters where some part of the new man's Step 8 list includes an unquestionably legal or judicial side. It may be a criminal matter where an actual theft or fraud was involved.11 Many new members to AA have serious problems with probation or parole matters, revoked driver licenses and unfilled obligations for drug testing. Even more commonly, it may involve unpaid child support, debts, alimony or serious breeches of contracts he was unable or unwilling to perform.12
Of course matters such as these will present a challenge to the sponsor. However, the wisdom of dividing the entire matter of amends between two steps (Steps 8 and 9 as opposed to making it all one step) comes to the forefront. There may very well be amends which, if made in Step 9, will materially impact your sponsee's life. Such matters should be managed, but never permanently neglected or avoided. It might be the case, for example, that the potential disruption of a jail sentence can be lessened by completing some or all of the twelve steps before he surrenders himself.
On the other hand, most AA's actually benefit from “taking care” of these obligations. In some cases, judges and other judicial authorities may be favorably impressed by the new man's determination to get and stay sober along with his honest readiness to clear the air.
But what is the role of the sponsor in such matters? He is not an officer of a court and his personal views about “law and order” must be set aside in favor of the higher priority of the spiritual development of his sponsee. As far as the judicial system is concerned, people who have been convicted of something need to answer to their sentence, but with respect to spiritual progress, the sponsor knows that the new man's inner thoughts about this can make it either something valuable to his spiritual growth or simply a grudgingly accepted punishment which he must endure.
Alcoholics seem to be great at enduring things but sometimes hesitant in growing beyond them. The sponsor is determined to assist the new member in becoming a person who can benefit from facing his obligations. The actual decision to face such matters must, of course, be made by the new man. The sponsor's side will be in making every effort to assist the new member's development to a point where he can benefit spiritually from such brave and trusting action.
The consideration of incarceration as a form of making amends may be quite beneficial, but when that sentence is regarded only as the “price of getting caught,” much less may be accomplished. To equate settling that outstanding warrant or sentence with the AA idea of making amends is an idea he must thoroughly understand. Further, whatever crime has precipitated this situation probably has an actual victim somewhere along the line. He must not be confused by the idea that his jail time is an amends to that victim. It is, instead, to be considered the intervention of a third party – in this case the judicial system – between the tangible harm he has caused and his personal freedom. Even when he has squared things with the court, the victim of his action still needs to be seriously considered as an addition to his Step 8 list.
One interesting candidate for the Step 8 list can arise from the bill for treatment. Here, the dominant factor is whether or not the new member agreed to pay for alcohol treatment. The far less important consideration is whether or not it was successful. Many times employers or family members arrange for the treatment of an alcoholic in which case those parties have acted independently to accept the financial burden. When treatment "failed to deliver" the results these benefactors had hoped for, the alcoholic may conclude that it was his failure to get sober, and consequently, his responsibility to repay the costs.
Such a debt should be considered in the same manner as other debts. If the sponsee agreed to pay for the service, the debt remains one that he must settle. If others signed the payment contract, again, regardless of the outcome, the bill remains their liability. There is little to be gained by introducing such a "theoretical" financial burden into the shaky economy of a newly sober AA.
The division between “making a list” in Step 8 and “making amends” in Step 9 offers a window of time during which the new man can come to a much more spiritual understanding of what he must do. On one side of the coin, many AA's may attempt to turn this “reconfiguration” process into an alcoholic run-around with the aim of avoiding their responsibilities. On the other side, the sponsor can be determined to do what he can to assist the new man's spiritual preparation to a state where the experience can be quite helpful to his recovery -- a state where making amends becomes absolutely necessary in the new man's thoughts about himself. The new man's path through such difficulties will reflect the completeness of all of his step work, not just his progress in Step 8.
A Final, Philosophical Note on Step 8
All along the way as he advanced in his step work, the AA program emphasized the value of honest self-observation. Much of the new man's history, when viewed in this bright, spiritual light, has become unavoidably grounded in his thoughts about himself. If this has taken place in a way consistent with AA principles, he now enjoys the prospect of a great transformation which heralds a even brighter future.
Yes, Chapter Three warns us about expecting such observations alone to make the life-saving changes we need. “But the actual or potential alcoholic, with hardly an exception, will be absolutely unable to stop drinking on the basis of self-knowledge.” (BB p39) However, by the time the new man has undertaken Step 8, we also have to conclude that the ability to stop drinking will absolutely require the self-knowledge he has gained by working the steps which have led him to Step 8. The great spiritual break he has been seeking would become far too vacuous and theoretical if it were not “backed up” by a very specific acknowledgement and acceptance of the causes of his difficulties, that is, “backed up” by a very robust understanding all the implications of hisdisease of alcoholism.
After looking over his Step 8 list, he often confronts a rather philosophical question, one which his sponsor may need to address. It may seem to be little more than an intellectual “parlor game,” but it can also represent an important “landmark” in his spiritual progress.
An alcoholic clearly has both an external history filled with alcoholic behavior and thoughts, but also an even more important inner history. After all, even when all the external consequences of his alcoholism are set aside, there remains the fact that none of this felt good from his inside view either. It is very much a valid topic during his step work. On one side, he is defined by what he does. On the other side, he is defined by what he is. The spiritual journey of the AA recovery program will certainly address what he does, but it will also strive to develop what he is.
Since we are very involved in his alcoholic history at Step 8, we can adjust this idea by considering it in three different “time zones,” his alcoholic past, his present state while doing step work and his future state as a recovered alcoholic. The question, then, also becomes three different parts.
In the past, was he defined by what he did or what he was?
Is he presently defined by what he is doing now or what he is now?
Will he, in his sober future, be defined by his actions or his inner thoughts (spirit)?
In each case, it is clear that his actions follow his spiritual state at the moment. The items of his Step 8 list, when viewed this way, actually represent things that he has done which, although somehow they seemed justified at the moment, are no longer things he would consider doing. His inner spirit has changed and will remain changed, and his actions will reflect that. So will his personal comfort with himself.13
However, his past remains a very concrete part of his alcoholic history. Most of us have suffered the unsettling acceptance that our inner selves (spirit) during that time of alcoholic drinking were accurately defined by what all we did under the dark influence of our spiritual malady. Now, after some step work and the clarity which comes with a period of sobriety, we have to conclude that we were doing things which we didn't want to do!
We don't want to be the person who had done those things, then simply accepted the inner self (spirit) which such actions imply. We rely, perhaps more than we like to think, on the idea that our inner selves really are defined – for us – by our external actions. Happily, a final answer to such a complicated question is not required for our spiritual progress, but at Step 8 the new member is faced with a future where he wants his inner and his outer self to coincide (in a serene way).
The philosophical point of Step 8's work is brought home by the idea that all that history must become incorporated into the present – and future – inner self of the new member. His path forward depends on taking whatever action will be needed to reconcile his history with his future. It must be the new, Step 8 man who makes the list and, later, makes the amends. The old man (untreated alcoholic) has already had his disastrous “chance at the wheel.” It will be the recovered alcoholic who will make Step 8's list, make Step 9's amends and who will receive the spiritual horsepower which always results from this amazing cleansing and reconciling process.
A New Look at Making Amends
The AA program's style of amend-making is much more than simply the rosy faced lad being frog marched in to make a stuttering apology to Aunt Martha.
We can extend the short, philosophical comment ending the discussion of Step 8 to the beginning of Step 9. At any given moment, an alcoholic is a product of both what he is and what he does. His alcoholic history is clearly based on what he has done in his past, but his thoughts about that history, revealed during his step work, suggest that parts of it, perhaps the most troubling parts of it, represent things he did -- but did not want to do.
At least, the sober alcoholic entering the work of Step 9 wouldn't have wanted to do those things. This is a mark of his continuing progress in recovery, and his sponsor must be certain that his sponsee is reassured by this fact. What the new man wants to do now that he is in recovery varies greatly from what he wanted to do during the creation of his alcoholic history. Both his actions and his wants have changed.
Still, the history remains a fact. His momentary, present life will continue to be a product of both his history and his progress. Amends fall directly into this same theme except in a far more positive way. He will make amends, and the making of them will then fall into his alcoholic history, becoming both a part of what he was, what he has done and what he is now. There is a subtle but important difference between thinking of making amends as an effort to change his future compared to taking action to change his immediate present.
AA's spiritual progress will always occur in this present moment. Comfort derived from spiritual progress already accomplished and any indulgent convenience derived from spiritual progress planned for the future both have far too much suspiciously in common with “resting on our laurels...”14 Unavoidably, making amends will have much to do with his past and his future, but perhaps even more importantly, making amends are a very material part his spiritual present, too.
Remember, making amends is yet another chapter in the new man's continuing alcoholic history. He is not dead, he is still an alcoholic, and he is still creating his history. Step 9 will definitely be a new chapter which describes a new story, but it will all become another part of his alcoholic history. As such, he will someday share this experience with another new, frightened, reluctant AA who, facing his own amends, is preparing yet another chapter to his alcoholic history. The events arising from that future meeting will exist in two places -- both "this" past and "that" future.
Hope will fight its way into the light. Thanks to AA's program of recovery and our wonderful tradition of sincere, personal sponsorship, hope arises to become its own tradition. Enough philosophy, now on to the “moving parts” of making amends, Step 9.
1 “We have a list of all persons we have harmed and to whom we are willing to make amends. We made it when we took inventory.” (BB p76)
2 “If we haven't the will to do this, we ask until it comes. Remember it was agreed at the beginning we would go to any lengths for victory over alcohol.” (BB p76) Step 7 either prepared the new man for this work or it didn't.
3 “We subjected ourselves to drastic self-appraisal.” (BB p76)
4 “Why does he behave like this? If hundreds of experiences have shown him that one drink means another debacle with all its attendant suffering and humiliation, why is it he takes that one drink?” (BB p22), and, “How many times have people said to us: “I can take it or leave it alone. Why can't he?” (BB p20) These non-alcoholic observations are directed at alcoholic drinking. In the context of Step 8, the same observations can be expanded to include the consequences of injurious alcoholic behavior.
5 “He is a real Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. He is seldom mildly intoxicated. He is always more or less insanely drunk.” (BB p21) “In some cases we have gone out deliberately to get drunk, feeling ourselves justified by nervousness, anger, worry, depression, jealousy or the like.” (BB p37) We AA's relate to these observations of both degree of severity and motivation in our Big Book.
6 “We went back through our lives. Nothing counted but thoroughness and honesty.” (BB p65)
7 “An illness of this sort – and we have come to believe it an illness – involves those about us in a way no other human sickness can. … But not so with the alcoholic illness, for with it there goes annihilation of all the things worth while in life. It engulfs all whose lives touch the sufferer's. It brings misunderstanding, fierce resentment, financial insecurity, disgusted friends and employers, warped lives of blameless children, sad wives and parents – anyone can increase the list.” (BB p18) Note that this comment is introduced 57 pages before the formal discussion of Steps 8 and 9 begins on page 76 of our Big Book. Although the process of Step 8 cannot be successfully addressed before completing the preceding steps, the idea of an honest list of “harm done” is already a common theme in the AA program of recovery.
8 “So our troubles, we think, are basically of our own making. They arise out of ourselves, and the alcoholic is an extreme example of self-will run riot, though he usually doesn't think so. Above everything, we alcoholics must be rid of this selfishness. We must or it kills us! God makes that possible. And there often seems no way of entirely getting rid of self without His aid.” (BB p62) One way to consider “selfishness” is as “demanding control,” even when no reasonable person would think that such “control” was even a reasonable possibility. Likewise, it might be “God” which uniquely makes these advances possible, but even for the more secular AA, it remains “spiritual progress” which makes them possible.
9 “The less people tolerated us, the more we withdrew from society, from life itself. As we became subjects of King Alcohol, shivering denizens of his his mad realm, the chilling vapor that is loneliness settled down. It thickened, becoming ever blacker.” (BB 151)
10 “But it is from our twisted relations with family, friends, and society at large that many of us have suffered the most. We have been especially stupid and stubborn about them. The primary fact that we fail to recognize is our total inability to form a true partnership with another human being. Our egomania digs two disastrous pitfalls. Either we insist on dominating (controlling) the people we know, or we depend upon them far too much.” (12X12, Step 4, p53)
11 “Perhaps we have committed a criminal offense which might land us in jail if it were known to authorities. We may be short on our accounts and unable to make good. We have already admitted this in confidence to another person, but we are sure we would be imprisoned or lose our job if it were known. Maybe it's only a petty offense such as padding the expense account. Most of us have done that sort of thing.” (BB p78)
12 “Most alcoholics owe money. We do not dodge our creditors. Telling them what we are trying to do, we make no bones about our drinking; they usually know it anyway, whether we think so or not. Nor are we afraid of disclosing our alcoholism on the theory it may cause financial harm. Approached in this way, the most ruthless creditor will sometimes surprise us. Arranging the best deal we can we let these people know we are sorry. Our drinking has made us slow to pay. We must lose our fear of creditors no matter how far we have to go, for we are liable to drink if we are afraid to face them.” (BB p78)
13 The AA adage with respect to this inner comfort is “comfortable in his own skin.”
*Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., has neither endorsed, nor are they affiliated with, the 'Composition or Distribution' of These Worksheets.
These Step Study Worksheets are only meant to be another tool in helping the alcoholic on there 12 Step Journey, to better understand the Basic and Simple approach to practicing the Steps, as they are ... 'Laid Out In The Basic TextOf The Big Book' of Alcoholics Anonymous.
I ask my Higher Power for help in making my list of all those I have harmed. I will take responsibility for my mistakes, and be forgiving to others as You are forgiving to me. Grant me the willingness to begin my restitution.
"Now we need 'More Action', without which we find that "Faith Without Works Is Dead." Let's look at Steps Eight and Nine. We have a list of all persons we have harmed and to whom we are willing to make amends. We made it when we took inventory. We subjected ourselves to a drastic self-appraisal." (Big Book, Pg. 76)
* A suggested worksheet chart on the link below works very well for some people. It is comprized of Four Sections. A 'Right Now' amends column, 'Later', 'Maybe' and a 'Never' columns. The idea is by the time you've completed section #3 the 'Maybe' amends, your Spiritual Growth by this time, will more than likely give you the 'Willingness and Courage' to take on your 'Never Make Amends' section.
TO BEGIN STEP EIGHT 'FIRST REVIEW' THE FOLLOWING:
1) Alcoholics Anonymous, Big Book, Chapter 6: Into Action - Pgs. 76-84. 1a) Audio: 'Step 8' mp3 (10 min) listen/burn here
2) *View/Print Four Section 'Amends List' Worksheet: link here
It Is 'STRONGLY' Suggested You 'Read And Listen' To The Above 'SEVERAL' Times 'BEFORE' Continuing This Process...
STEP 8: "Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all."
*A suggested 'Thought' to consider for Step 8 - "FORGIVENESS." "When I came into the Fellowship, I believed there were a lot more people who hurt me, than I hurt. When I made my list and thought about it, I realized I played a significant role in the broken relationships that ensued."
As we mentioned in your Step 4 inventory, a significant update appeared in the (1952) 12&12's Step 8 about an amends list. "To a degree, he has already done this when taking moral inventory, but now the time has come when He Ought To 'REDOUBLE HIS EFFORTS' to see how many people he has hurt, and in what ways." (12&12 Pg. 77)
Also, the 12&12 discusses 'Emotional and Other Damage' to those not necesarily Resented, Feared or Romanced. We sincerely intended to love many people, but actually abused them at times with our "isms". We added OUR LIFES NAMES in Step 4 as a "master index" of our lives, inspired by this 12&12 direction. (12&12 Pgs. 78-79)
If you need to complete such a list, complete one now. Don't concern yourself at this time with whether or not you should, or will be able to, actually make the amends.
1. Do I have relationships that I need to heal? Explain:
2. Which of those relationships bother me the most? Explain:
3. Is there still any persons remaining I am not at peace with? Explain:
4. What happened between me and these persons? Explain:
5. What frightens me about making amends? Explain:
6. What do I believe I need to do to repair the damage? Explain:
7. Do I believe it is helpful to 'Redouble My Efforts' and make a second list of persons who hurt me? Explain:
8. Would I find it helpful to make a third list and put my name on it? Explain:
9. Am I willing and able to forgive myself and the persons who hurt me, to make amends to myself and all those I have hurt? Explain:
10. Can I ask my Higher Power for the keenness in perceiving, that understanding and wisdom, before receiving the 'Willingness and Courage' to make amends to all these persons who were harmed? Explain:
Now we go out to our fellows and repair the damage done in the past. "Faith Without Works Is Dead" Continue On To Your STEP 9 ... With The Guidance Of Your Sponsor !
"REMEMBER"... THERE IS A SOLUTION, THE SOLUTION IS SIMPLE, THE SOLUTION IS . . . 'SPIRITUAL'!!!
STEP 7) Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
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 SEVEN. Humbly ask God to remove your shortcomings.
READING FOR STEP SEVEN
Chapter 6, Into Action. Page 76, paragraph 2
You may also wish to use our Step Seven Work Sheet.* see below for Worksheet
The 12 & 12 dwells on the word, "humility" to some length. Here's what the dictionary says:
hu-mil-I-ty (hyue mil’I tee; often yue-) n.
1. the quality or state of being humble; modest opinion of one’s own importance or rank; meekness. [1275-1325; ME humilite < L humilitas; see:
hum-ble (hum’buhl, um’-) adj. <-bler, -blest> v. <-bled, -bling> adj.
1. not proud or arrogant; modest. 2. Low in importance, status, or condition; lowly: a humble home. 3. Courteously respectful: in my humble opinion.
The root “hum” means earth as in humus and, humor. When the definition says that Humble means “lowly” it does not mean servile or inadequate. It means, simply, not exalted, as is the earth as opposed to heaven.
So, humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less.
The way we have come to look at humility is that it is a virtue, one of the principles that AA teaches us to live. The definition we have adopted pictures us as standing naked before God, without pretense nor reservation. It means hiding nothing, being our real selves, both good and bad. A good synonym for humility is honesty.
Mother Theresa obviously knew precisely what humility means when she said:
“If you are humble nothing can touch you, neither praise nor disgrace, because you know who you are.”
In the context of Step 7, then, we find that our taking of Steps 4, 5, and 6 has prepared us to know much of who and what we are. It is our real essence, then, that stands before its Creator with the prayer that its shortcomings be removed. (The expressions exact nature of our wrongs (step 5), defects of character (step 6), and shortcomings (step 7) are to be used interchangeably, according to Bill Wilson.)
But, just what does get removed? Does God remove defects that we don’t know about? If He did, then steps 4 and 5 might be unnecessary. You have been instructed to go to a great deal of trouble to bring to the surface your defects of character.
Knowing of our defects is only a precursor to becoming willing to stop hanging onto them in step six.
We don’t think this effort is all make-work. The Higher Power we have come to know does not intrude into our lives without invitation. He only responds to step seven prayers that are very specific. He wants us to understand which qualities of character are desirable and which are not (within the context of His scheme of things). He wants us to know ourselves well enough to know which character attributes we have and which are missing. Therefore, we believe that there is no catch-all we can invoke that just says, “clean us up”.
The point is that we are to ask God to displace our own character with the character He chooses us to have.
Does God remove all our defects of character that we ask Him to? It seems not. Sometimes we think something is a defect of character when it might be right for us, like a mole on our cheek. Maybe we haven’t yet learned enough from our defects to really be ready to have them removed, even though we think we are.
Most of us take Steps Six and Seven every day. The process of letting go and letting God is not instantaneous. We whittle away at the old self, often painfully, until His magnificent configuration slowly emerges.
The principle of Step Seven is___________________.
The Seventh Step Prayer
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.
STEP 7 WORKSHEET
7) Humbly asked Him (God) to remove our shortcomings.
What shortcomings? The “exact nature of our wrongs” in step 5 is expressed in terms of “defects of character” in step 6, and offered up to God for removal as “shortcomings” in step 7. Bill Wilson, when asked why he used three different sets of words to define character defects, said it was to avoid repetition. Therefore, he intended that there be no significant distinction. Some members waste time needlessly by differentiating the three expressions, which we term, simply, as character defects.
When step 5 is performed well, we leave with a list of our character defects. In step 6 we progressively become willing to have these removed from us, and in step 7 we pray that they might be.
Make a grid similar to that below, and list your defects of character in it. If an example we have entered applies to you, let it remain. If not, replace it with one of yours that is not listed.
Willingness to have removed
Willingness for removal. We have identified five possible levels of your willingness to have each character defect removed. These are:
1) Already removed 2) Absolutely willing 3) Almost willing 4) Give me more time 5) Never
Place one of these level indicators in the right column of the grid for each character defect.
As you know from reading the 12&12, our stubborn insistence to “never” allow a defect to be removed must, itself, be removed.
If your willingness level for any item is not 1) or 2), you will want to repeat the exercise again later.
We are certain that God will not remove from alcoholics the defects of character that we do not admit we have. This fact explains one of the reasons we must take steps 4 and 5. We also know that God may remove our defects only to the extent that we are willing for them to be removed. That is why we take step 6. He does not intrude upon our private desires to cohabit with the trash in the garbage can.
Describes your level of humility:
I am so low I cohabit with worms.
I deserve contempt and condemnation.
I am worthless.
I am filled with guilt, shame, remorse and self-loathing.
I feel like being totally honest.
I have little interest in impressing others.
I have nothing to hide from God
I am coming to really know who I am.
Humility? Are you humble? Place a check mark next to each of the statements in the table which identifies your level of humility?
Even though the dictionary says that humility describes one of lower status, that is not the spiritual significance of humility. Therefore, the first four statements above describe humiliation, not humility.
The root is “hum”, the same root as in humus and humor. For us, humility means “down to earth”. Humility means honest, real, and without phoniness as in statements 5 through 8 above. Our role model, Mother Theresa had it right on when she said, “If you are truly humble, nothing can touch you, neither disgrace nor praise, because you know who you are.”
So, we enter into step 7 with honesty, willing to stand naked, so to speak, before God, hiding nothing, and with no hidden motives.
More about God. In Step 7 we ask God to do something – to remove our shortcomings. But, not all conceptions of a Higher Power(HP) are likely to improve us. Some of the HPs we have encountered are a tree, a moving van, a rock, the classic light bulb, and even the AA Group itself, which is suggested as a last resort starting point in AA literature. Amongst these, the only possible candidate for removing shortcomings might be the AA Group.
However, we think it is not prudent to go through your defects catalogue before your Group. You would be exposing yourself unnecessarily. They would not take the time, and, even if they did, you would get all kinds of confused and incompatible reactions from them. At best, the Group, or even your sponsor, might give you some insight into the nature of your wrongs and some remedial possibilities.
So, you might as well bite the bullet and open yourself up to the Spiritual source, which we might as well call “God” for communication purposes. Here is an opportunity for you to identify further your own conception of God. This is not completely a true-false exercise. Some of your responses might require some contemplation. Thinking deeply on these questions is the benefit of doing it.
Your own conception of God
What is the name of your Higher Power(HP)?
Where is your HP located?
What is the primary location of your HP at the time you are meditating or praying?
If you usually pray on your knees, why do you?
Can your HP read your thoughts when you pray? Does your HP hear you better when you speak aloud?
Is your motive underlying the prayer as important as the thoughts and words of the prayer itself.
Should your message be specific and precise, or is it OK to be vague in your requests to your HP?
Place a check next to the defects which God is likely to remove?
Defects of which you are not aware.
Defects which stand in the way of your usefulness to God.
Defects which stand in the way of your usefulness to others.
Defects which annoy you.
Defects which interfere with your happiness.
Once you have asked your HP to remove your defects(shortcomings), will they be gone?
Does your HP reward you when you comply with His will?
Does your HP punish you when you do not comply with His will?
Is it necessary for you to attend or be a member of a church?
The prayer. We are tempted to print out the seventh step prayer for you. However, this is a work sheet. Find the prayer in the Big Book, and write all 56 words of it in the space below.
It is curious to note that we ask only for removal of defects of character which stand in the way of our usefulness to God and our fellows. What about the ones that are painful to us?
It appears that David had a personal relationship with his God. You couldnt tell him what his God was or was not capable of because David had personal knowledge and experience and he knew that his God could do anything. But most of all he knew who he was in God.
Listen to what he tells his brothers and King Saul:
David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.”
33 Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.”
34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock,35 I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it.36 Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God.37 The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.”
Israel. The two armies faced each other, camped for battle on opposite sides of a steep valley. A Philistine giant measuring over nine feet tall and wearing full armor came out each day for forty days, mocking and challenging the Israelites to fight. His name was Goliath. Saul, the King of Israel, and the whole army were terrified of Goliath.
One day David, the youngest son of Jesse, was sent to the battle lines by his father to bring back news of his brothers. David was probably just a young teenager at the time. While there, David heard Goliath shouting his daily defiance and he saw the great fear stirred within the men of Israel. David responded, "Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of God?"
So David volunteered to fight Goliath.It took some persuasion, but King Saul finally agreed to let David fight against the giant. Dressed in his simple tunic, carrying his shepherd's staff, slingshot and a pouch full of stones, David approached Goliath. The giant cursed at him, hurling threats and insults.
David said to the Philistine, "You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied ... today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air ... and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel ... it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord's, and he will give all of you into our hands."
As Goliath moved in for the kill, David reached into his bag and slung one of his stones at Goliath's head. Finding a hole in the armor, the stone sank into the giant's forehead and he fell face down on the ground. David then took Goliath's sword, killed him and then cut off his head. When the Philistines saw that their hero was dead, they turned and ran. So the Israelites pursued, chasing and killing them and plundering their camp.
Now Goliath was over nine feet tall and David was a teenager which meant that he was probably about 4 ft 11 in. tall just guesting. However tall he was he was no where near 9 ft. tall.
But this is the point! He was not considered about his height, age or his own abilities what he relied on was the power of God.
Listen to what he says: "Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of God?"
Wait a minute! Here is a whole army of God. All these people belonged to God why couldnt they conqueror the giant? They knew they belonged to God. They were taught what God had done for them all through history. Why were they waiting 40 days and allowing a philistine to shout, talk about them like dogs and curse their God?
It simple! They knew God but they evidently didnt have a relationship with him.
So, you mean that there are things that God has for us but we cant get cause we dont know who we are in him so we keep allowing the Giants and our lives to keep us from the promises of God!
Lowd, Have Mercy!
You mean I could have had my stuff along time ago but I am allowing the seemingly unconquerable giants in my life from getting where I have to go?
The haters, backbitters, gossipers, naysayers who keep shouting defiances against what God has promised me.
Oh, you cant do that! You cant say that! That wont work!
"You uncircumcised Philistine shout your mouth who are you to defy and tell me what my God can and can not do?"
I know my God!
My God name is:
"The Lord our provider" - This is also the name Abraham gave to the place where the Lord provided a sacrifice in place of Isaac. (Gen. 22:14).
"Our banner, a banner of love and protection" - Also the name Moses gave to the altar he built after defeating the Amalekites (Ex. 17:15).
"Our perfect peace" - Also the name Gideon gave to the altar he built at Ophrah (Judges 6:24)
"The Lord is our righteousness" - The name is applied to a future Davidic king who would lead his people to do what is right and thus bring peace (Jeremiah 23:6) and to the restored city of Jerusalem (Jeremiah 33:16). The name is possibly a play on the name of Zedekiah ("Righteous [is] the Lord") who reigned from 597 to 587 B.C..
"The One Who is with us everywhere for He is Omnipresent" - The Jerusalem of Ezekiel's vision (see Ezekiel 48:35 margin) was known by this name. Compare text at Isaiah 60:19-20 and Revelation 21:3.
"The Lord of Hosts, our Protector." C.H. Spurgeon said this about the phrase "The Lord of Hosts:
The Lord rules the angels, the stars, the elements, and all the hosts of Heaven; and the Heaven of heavens is under His sway... [the Lord] is on our side -- our august Ally; woe unto those who fight against Him, for they shall flee like smoke before the wind when He gives the word to scatter them."
See text at Psalm 46:7.
"Our Shepherd Who tenderly leads us, loves us and will keep us safe." - the famous Psalm 23 tells us that "The Lord is our Shepherd and we shall not want...." Being illustrated as a shepherd implies a relationship with His sheep (His believers). The term shepherd appears approximately 80 times in the Scriptures, denotating meanings of: feeder, keeper, companion, friend, pastor and herdsman.
JEHOVAH RAPHA â€“
"I am the Lord Your Physician or I am the Lord Your Healer - this name especially was a Name God prophetically spoke about Himself, not one that someone gave Him. Exodus 15:26.
I am learning to stop spending my time trying to convince folk who I am. All I have to do now is walk in it.
All through the bible God places people in authority or makes their name great before they even receive the title.
Look at David:
He was divinely selected to replace Saul after Saul didn't follow God's instructions in the war against the amalekites. The message was delivered prophet Samuel who then annointed David as the next king. However, David did not take over the kingship from Saul immediately. Saul sought to kill David suspecting he was going to succeed him as king. David fled and continued to honor Saul as the king. After Saul was killed in battle, David became the king of his own tribe, Judah. The rest of Israel had taken Ish Boshet, the son of Saul as a king. For 7 years and 6 months he was king of Judah, until he became king of all of Israel Read more: wiki.answers.com/Q/How_did_King_david_be...
Now lets look at Saul:
He also came from humble beginnings and is out looking for a Donkey when the Prophet Samuel proclaims him King.
Saul does not tell his family what Samuel told him and when Samuel gathers the nation to announce that Saul has been chosen has king, Saul goes to hide. When a few people mock Saul as unsuitable to be king he remains silent. When we could say that his actions are a sign of his humility and modesty, in reality this is where we first see the weakness of his character.
You see I can miss my blessing messin' with and listen to folk. You see what it said about Saul he reminds silent cause folk say he's not suitable but God chose him and called him to be King.
Our greatest example is Jesus:
Born poor and in humble beginning but had the greatest ministry there is and people asked how can this be ain't that Joesph's son?
See that's what I mean people don't recognize who you are so why even listen to them?
My girlfriend said when people doubt who she is she says:
I am alive with Christ
I am a new creator in Christ
I am the light of the world
I am washed in the blood'
I am raised up with Christ and seated in heavenly places
I am God's workmanship created in Christ unto good works
We can go on and on but I am taking Jesus stance in the bible when the Scribes and the Pharisees started talkin' crazy the word of God says "HE ANSWERED THEM NOT."
17When Moses sent them to spy out the land of Canaan, he said to them, “Go up there into the Negev; then go up into the hill country. 18“See what the land is like, and whether the people who live in it are strong orweak, whether they are few or many. 19“How is the land in which they live, is it good or bad? And how are the cities in which they live, are they like opencamps or with fortifications? 20“How is the land, is it fat or lean? Are there trees in it or not? Make an effort then to get some of the fruit of the land.” Now the time was the time of the first ripe grapes.
21So they went up and spied out the land from the wilderness of Zin as far as Rehob, at Lebo-hamath. 22When they had gone up into the Negev, they came to Hebron where Ahiman, Sheshai and Talmai, the descendants of Anak were. (Now Hebron was built seven years before Zoan in Egypt.)
23Then they came to the valley of Eshcol and from there cut down a branch with a single cluster of grapes; and they carried it on a pole between two men,with some of the pomegranates and the figs. 24That place was called the valley of Eshcol, because of the cluster which the sons of Israel cut down from there.
The Spies’ Reports
25When they returned from spying out the land, at the end of forty days, 26they proceeded to come to Moses and Aaron and to all the congregation of the sons of Israel in the wilderness of Paran, at Kadesh; and they brought back word to them and to all the congregation and showed them the fruit of the land. 27Thus they told him, and said, “We went in to the land where you sent us; and it certainly does flow with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. 28“Nevertheless, the people who live in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified andvery large; and moreover, we saw the descendants of Anak there. 29“Amalek is living in the land of the Negev and the Hittites and the Jebusites and the Amorites are living in the hill country, and the Canaanites are living by the sea and by the side of the Jordan.”
30Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we will surely overcome it.” 31But the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are too strong for us.”32So they gave out to the sons of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, “The land through which we have gone, in spying it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great size. 33“There also we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak are part of the Nephilim); and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.”
The book of Numbers 13:17-33 talks specifically about the fears of the people of God.
The same people who God had demonstrated so many times before of how he had delivered them so many times before.
Let's see first he(God) told Moses to go set his people free.
Moses turns the rod unto a serpent, EXODUS 7: 10. EXODUS 7:14.
The water of the river became blood. EXODUS 7:17.
Moses smites all the borders of Egypt with frogs. EXODUS 8:2.
Moses smites the dust of the earth and became lice. EXODUS 8:17.
Moses sends a grievous mourner upon the cattle, the Egyptians cattle died but the Israelite did not. EXODUS 9:3. EXODUS 9:6 to 7.
Moses smites the Egyptians by the dust of the furnace. EXODUS 9:8.
Moses sends rain of hail. EXODUS 9:18.
Moses sends the locusts over Egypt. EXODUS 10:14.
Moses sends the darkness in all the land of Egypt for 3 days. EXODUS 10:22.
GOD said, every first born in the land of Egypt from Pharaoh to the first born of the maidservant, And all first born of the beast. EXODUS 12:29.
Pharaoh tells Moses to take his people and go. EXODUS 12: 31 to 32.
The children of Israel journeyed, on the way to the Promised Land. EXODUS 12:37.
Pharaoh changed his mind about letting the Israelite to go he took 600 chariots and went after them. EXODUS 14:5 to 7.
Pharaoh drew nigh by the children of Israel. EXODUS 14:10 to 14.
The LORD said to Moses (LIFT UP YOUR ROD AND DIVIDE THE RED SEA: AND LET THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL SHALL GO ON DRY LAND IN MIDST OF THE SEA) EXODUS 14:15 to 17.
The LORD tells Moses, stretch out your hand over the sea, and cause the sea to go back by A strong wind and let the children of Israel went on dry land in the midst of the sea. EXODUS 14: 21 to 22.
The LORD said to Moses stretch out your hand over the sea, that the waters may come again upon the Egyptians. EXODUS 14: 26 to 29.
After God gets them over to the Promised Land...
Then, on the way to the Promised Land, the children of Israel murmured against Moses, cause of hunger. EXODUS 16:2 to 7.
The LORD shall send rain bread from heaven. EXODUS 16: 31.
The children of Israel did eat MANNA for forty years in the wilderness, during their journey to the Promised Land. EXODUS 16:35
Now, Moses sends twelve men composed of a spy from each tribe and all but two come back saying "WE LOOKED LIKE ANTS IN OUR OWN EYES."
Now here I am God has supplied my every need and I am still looking at my circumstances and not my God.
LORD! DO BRAIN SURGERY ON ME
Some may wonder how could they say that don't they know what God has already done for them?
Yeah, but what about us today? What fear do you have? What are you afraid that God can't or won't do for you?
I just experience three days of self inflicted torture looking at the circumstance instead of looking at God.
And babe believe me FEAR BRINGS ABOUT TORMENT.
Lord, Help My Unbelief.
I will look to the hills from which cometh my help my help cometh from the Lord!
The 12 & 12 dwells on the word, "humility" to some length. Here's what the dictionary says:
hu-mil-i-ty (hyue mil'i tee; often yue-) n.
1. the quality or state of being humble; modest opinion of one's own importance or rank; meekness. [1275-1325; ME humilite < L humilitas; see:
hum-ble (hum'buhl, um'-) adj. <-bler, -blest> v. <-bled, -bling> adj.
1. not proud or arrogant; modest. 2. low in importance, status, or condition; lowly: a humble home. 3. courteously respectful: in my humble opinion.
The root "hum" means earth as in humus and, humor. When the definition says that Humble means "lowly" it does not mean servile or inadequate. It means, simply, not exalted, as is the earth as opposed to heaven.
So, humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less.
The way we have come to look at humility is that it is a virtue, one of the principles that AA teaches us to live. The definition we have adopted pictures us as standing naked before God, without pretense nor reservation. It means hiding nothing, being our real selves, both good and bad. A good synonym for humility is honesty.
Mother Theresa obviously knew precisely what humility means when she said:
"If you are humble nothing can touch you, neither praise nor disgrace, because you know who you are."
In the context of Step 7, then, we find that our taking of Steps 4, 5, and 6 has prepared us to know much of who and what we are. It is our real essence, then, that stands before its Creator with the prayer that its shortcomings be removed. (The expressions exact nature of our wrongs (step 5), defects of character (step 6), and shortcomings (step 7) are to be used interchangeably, according to Bill Wilson.) But, just what does get removed? Does God remove defects that we don't know about? If He did, then steps 4 and 5 might be unnecessary. You have been instructed to go to a great deal of trouble to bring to the surface your defects of character.
Knowing of our defects is only a precursor to becoming willing to stop hanging onto them in step six.
We don't think this effort is all make-work. The Higher Power we have come to know does not intrude into our lives without invitation. He only responds to step seven prayers that are very specific. He wants us to understand which qualities of character are desirable and which are not (within the context of His scheme of things). He wants us to know ourselves well enough to know which character attributes we have and which are missing. Therefore, we believe that there is no catch-all we can invoke that just says, "clean us up".
The point is that we are to ask God to displace our own character with the character He chooses us to have. Does God remove all our defects of character that we ask Him to? It seems not. Sometimes we think something is a defect of character when it might be right for us, like a mole on our cheek. Maybe we haven't yet learned enough from our defects to really be ready to have them removed, even though we think we are.
Most of us take Steps Six and Seven every day. The process of letting go and letting God is not instantaneous. We whittle away at the old self, often painfully, until His magnificent configuration slowly emerges. The principle of Step Seven is___________________.
The Seventh Step PrayerMy 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