Probably any member of a 12-step program, anyone who was once hopelessly enslaved to a mind-altering substance, but who now has some sober time within a Fellowship, can attest to the power of this step. For myself, I was once a person who had obsessive thoughts about my addiction from the time I opened my eyes in the morning. Not a moment in a day went by that I was in some stage of planning for my addiction… either I was figuring out how to get it, how to use it, or how to cover up my tracks.
Contrast that to present day, when the obsession is gone. It is hard to describe the miracle that is the release from the compulsion to ingest a drink or drug. So for people seeking recovery, reading this step and thinking it impossible (as I once did), I can tell you from personal experience it works, and it is miraculous.
It is the ongoing application of this step that is a great deal more difficult to practice. Step six, in everyday life, asks you to consider all of your defects, even the ones that are not as glaring as addiction, and suggests that you be entirely willing to have God remove them. When you think about it, that’s a pretty tall order. All defects? So what does that mean, this step is not complete until I am Mother Theresa?
My all-or-nothing thinking trips me up, in a big way, on this step. Since it seems a virtual impossibility to be entirely willing to remove all my defects of character, then why attempt it at all? Therefore I need to look at this step, in everyday living, as a yardstick. If being “entirely ready” is the gold standard, then I measure myself against it, and compare myself to myself. Am I more willing today than I was in active addiction? You better believe it, and I can celebrate that fact. Some days I pull the yardstick out and realize that I have not been nearly as willing today as I was yesterday, so I hit the reset button with which I have been blessed, and I start over.
Now, which of my many character defects should I use as an example? I’ll pick a common one: there are many times when I can be judgmental towards others. I know full well it is not my place to judge, but I do it anyway. I can certainly admit that it is a character defect, so will it work the same way as it did with addiction… I’ll just make myself “entirely ready” and then it will be gone? Maybe it would work that way, but first I have to really and truly be “entirely ready.” And, right or wrong, if I still get something out of this defect, if being judgmental makes me feel a little superior, and I enjoy that feeling, then I am not entirely ready.
The best I can do is to strive for the perfection the step suggests, work to be entirely willing, but all the while aware that, as a flawed human, I will never arrive at that destination. This is one step that is all about the journey. So, on a daily basis, I look at myself, I take stock, and I do the best I can to do the will of God.
Sometimes, it can be a small miracle: my son threw up in a sink full of dishes (including a rag). Cleaning up that mess, and not throwing up myself, is a miracle (came extremely close to not being a miracle, but I made it)!