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A Suggestion for Step Six

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Chad Lentscher, Director of Alumni, Origins South Padre Island

I had a profound experience in recent years around Step Six. Following a Fifth Step, I was staring at several pages of character defects, and three things occurred to me. One, the list was almost identical to every other character defect list I had generated. Two, if I handed the list to any other person in recovery, he or she would probably identify with those same character defects. Three, I found those things objectionable and had been willing to let go of them for years.

These thoughts raised a couple of questions. Have I really changed, and if I’m not clinging to anything, why do these defects still exist in me?

I went back to that short paragraph on page 67, and one sentence caught my eye. “Are we now ready to let God remove from us all the things which we have admitted are objectionable?” There were plenty of things in my life that I found objectionable, but those were not the things I was listing. My list contained characteristics like selfish, manipulative, and insecure. These characteristics existed in me, as I believe they exist to some extent in every human being. Could I ever be completely free of selfishness, manipulation, and insecurity?

I realized that I was being too vague.  I began to generate a new Sixth Step list.

This list contained specific actions that continue to hinder my spiritual growth (I eat too much sugar; I avoid doctor’s appointments; I get defensive when I think my work ethic is being questioned; I gossip about others, who I feel are a threat.) Not only did I find them objectionable, but I was clinging to almost all of them. My list was unique to me, rather than characteristics that every human possesses.

I now had a list that God and I could apply to the remaining Steps.

There was clarity around the items I was still clinging to, and the need to ask God to help me be willing. I could see how these things attributed to some harms I had done to others and the amends that needed to be made. The Tenth and Eleventh Steps became incredibly effective. I found myself bringing these specific things to meditation in the morning, watching for them throughout the day, and then reviewing my progress at night.  God was moving me from a position of service to maximum service.

 

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