Reflections on the 6th Step
What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson
Because it is June, the 6th month of the year, many of the meetings I have attended recently focus on the 6th step, which is:
were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character
I am nowhere near Step 6 in my own recovery, and anything I hear about it overwhelms me, because the idea of trying to even comprehend all of my defects of character seems like an insurmountable task, much less working towards ridding myself of them!
What has been interesting, in studying this step, is thinking about the “less glaring” defects that we all have. When contemplating defects, I imagine most people think of the big ones. For example, addicts belonging to a 12-step program are obviously seeking help in removing the obsession to drink or use drugs. This is a glaring defect, one which causes immense discomfort to the individual, and consequently there is a big motivation to eradicate it.
But what of the smaller defects, ones that bring no real discomfort to our lives, and in fact can bring pleasure? Gossiping is a good example… it is clearly a defect of character, but for those of us who engage in this habit, can we really say we are entirely ready to rid ourselves of it? There are many such examples of lesser defects that we all possess, and should want to eliminate, but that does not mean we actually want to rid ourselves of them!
One of my primary “smaller” character defects, as I understand them at the present time, is impatience. It runs rampant through my life, but does no major damage (of which I am aware, anyway). But it is so ingrained in my life, and has been with me so long, I simply can’t imagine myself as a patient person.
So how do I work on it? Again, I am not on this step yet, so I’m sure my answer will change in time, but for now I have received this piece of advice that makes perfect sense to me, and I am going to try it out and see how it works: ask God to remove your character defect, and then act as if He has already done it. Truthfully, I have laughed each time I have pictured myself trying to act like a patient person, but, as is said all the time in AA, it’s about progress, not perfection!