Step 7: Humility
The spiritual focus of Step 7 is humility, asking a higher power
to do something that cannot be done by self-will or mere determination.
I worked Step 7 long before I actually realized that I couldn’t fix myself. You see, I’m very motivated. If I see a problem that really bothers me, I can usually study enough materials, come up with a plan and execute on it. I trained for a marathon, for heaven’s sake, in the middle of moving and buying a house. If I really want something, I can figure it out and make myself do it. So, it was hard for me to realize in my heart that I couldn’t fix my codependency, my shortcomings or my addictive behaviors. I just wanted to figure it out, and, I knew if I figured it out, I could change it.
According to the website www.12step.org, Step 7’s “humility” is important for three reasons:
- So that we can recognize the severity of our character defects. One aspect of our addictions is that we tend to deny and minimize the pain they inflict. Therefore as we try to assess our character defects, we may, unless we take a very humble approach, underestimate their severity.
- So that we can acknowledge the limits of human power in addressing these character defects. We cannot do it on our own. We cannot do it by sheer willpower. We cannot do it by our own intellect and reasoning.
- So that we can appreciate the enormity of God’s power to transform lives.
This step is very similar to Step 3 except now we really know what we need to let God handle. We just did the inventory. It’s all there in black and white. It just got real specific on what I couldn’t control. The thing is, there are books on how to stop doing all this stuff. I bought them all. A friend of mine walked into my house during my early recovery, and laughed, “My God, this place looks like a self-help library, a very comprehensive one!” Yeah…haha…
I felt a sense of urgency with some of this stuff because my marriage was falling apart and some of it, of course, was because of my issues. I didn’t want to lose the marriage, so I felt like I had to do it NOW, and I kept hearing I had to do it NOW. I felt scared and helpless. I also felt like a failure because I kept trying to fix what I really couldn’t fix. Lifelong patterns engrave themselves in your brain, and it takes time and practice for patterns to change. It also takes a change of heart and soul that begs you to sit in the puddle of what you’ve done and who you are and just be with it. I really believe that once I started loving myself the way I was, and it took some time, my heart and soul began to change. I believe that was God teaching me to love the one person I had harmed more than anyone else on the planet. And, in learning to love myself, I learned to love Him. I could not love unconditionally if I didn’t love myself unconditionally.
I let go of the books. I let go of the need for therapy to have a certain outcome. I let go of the retreats and their promises of healing. I let myself be scared to death that I would never get better, and followed instructions. I grabbed on to building relationships with God and others. I grabbed on to listening to someone else’s heart and just letting myself feel my feelings. I grabbed on to letting my life swirl around me with the consequences of my former actions. I let it all settle. And, once the dust cleared, I felt humbled…not humiliated…but humbled by the power of God and his plan for me. My heart began to shift, and the desires to control, to change things, to make something happen fell away. I didn’t have to make them disappear….I just didn’t need them or want them anymore. I had connection, support, love and serenity. Why would I need that other stuff? And, if the desires do surface from time to time, I know there is a better way. I just have to Let Go and Let God.