Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. ~1 Peter 5:6-7
Step 6: Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
The way I see it, there are a couple different ways to work Step 6. First, and maybe easiest, I can truly be ready for God to remove my character defects because I am spinning out of control. I am aware I can’t do it myself, because I keep trying to no avail. In desperation, I become ready for God to do it for me. This is quick and sincere, and I’m sure it’s the motivation for many a Step 6. I believe it may have been my own Step 6 motivation when I worked the steps a decade ago. I would term this method, “running away from the problem.”
The problem with working it this way is, as things begin to get better as a result of working the steps, I begin to feel capable again. Once my life is no longer spinning out of control, I decide I am more than capable of running my own life again, thank you very much. I take the blessing and run with it.
Fortunately, there is another way to work Step 6, with more lasting results. Getting ready for Father to remove my character defects this time around has been an exercise in studying his character, in experiencing his grace, in knowing him well enough to trust him with my life. It’s a longer, more tedious way to work the step, but it’s worth the work. Rather than running away from the problem, I would term this, “running toward the solution.”
In order to truly trust Father with my life, and not take back control later, when I “feel better,” I need to experience his unconditional love. Without knowing in my knower that Father will not cease to love me, will never reject me, will always accept me, I cannot relax in his grace and stop trying to be worthy of love. I will continue to try to earn his acceptance and try to be perfect in everything. I will be reluctant to admit any mistakes, and will ooze defensiveness in all my relationships, including my relationship with him.
It reminds me of when I was in marriage counseling years ago, and the counselor recommended I simply hand over all the household finances, the paying of the bills, and the balancing of the checkbook to my husband. Now, trust had been badly broken between us over the years, and the counselor was not helping us take any steps to know each other better and renew that trust. Without trust, how could it have been possible for me to hand everything over? You can guess that it wasn’t. I gave him the stuff, and I let him start doing things his way, out of desperation, because our marriage sucked and the counselor said this would help. But I watched very closely. If a bill hadn’t been paid in my timing, I went ahead and paid it. Or worse, I nagged my husband to do it sooner, better, MY way. I never truly handed it over and let go of it completely.
If, in my mind, God is the kind of Father who will make me earn love, who will expect me to be perfect, and who might reject me if I mess up, how can I possibly trust him with my life? Simply put, I can’t. I will try to hand it over, in desperation, because I’m not doing a great job myself, but will hold on to one little corner, so that when my life begins to get better again, I can take back the control. I feel safer controlling my own life than leaving it up to a God who might reject me.
One way Father has reached out to me in my Recovery is providing me with a model of his grace. I realized recently that I am blessed to have someone in my life who loves me unconditionally, and serves as a model which shows, on a smaller scale, the steadfastness of Father’s love. I also realized that until recently, I had never been loved unconditionally by an adult. This is a new, very special gift from Father.
My Love is a safe haven with whom I can practice the new skills I am learning in Recovery, because when I mess up, which I do frequently, he doesn’t hold it against me. He don’t remember everything I ever did to him and continue to bring it back up; rather, he allows me to make amends and move forward. He doesn’t let me cross his boundaries, and when I push against those boundaries, he pushes right back, but he doesn’t pull up stakes and leave. He does these things by the grace of God, because he has already worked his 6th Step, and the rest of his steps, and he has already placed his life firmly in Father’s hands and let go.
By placing someone in my life with whom I can practice relating without seeking approval or manipulating, apologizing for real and making amends, forgiving, and responding without reacting, I know Father is preparing me to be able to do those things with others. Because this someone has the grace to allow me to learn and practice loving him imperfectly, Father uses that to help me slowly become better at loving other people in my life who are much harder to love than he is.
As I continue to study the character of God, and how his character impacts my relationship with him, I know him better. As I know Father better, I trust him more. This process of knowing and trusting is the way to work Step 6 with lasting results. Through this process, I truly become entirely ready for God to be Lord of my life, to remove my defects of character, to use me as a model of grace for someone else’s 6th Step, to do whatever he wants with me. I know that I will make lots of mistakes, but because I know and trust Father, I’m certain my mistakes will be used to grow me, not used against me. I become ready to turn over my life to Father, even that last little corner.