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Define “Meaningful”

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Step Six: Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character

I just celebrated my fourteenth year in OA. That’s amazing to me and I’m so grateful that my obsessions with food, overeating, and dieting have almost always been lifted—or I can use Tools or white-knuckle it until the obsession passes, which it quickly does.

I have gone through the Steps three times while in OA. Each time I’ve done Step Six differently.

My first OA sponsor had a lot of years of recovery in another Twelve Step program, so he took me through the Steps in that style. My Fourth Step was daunting: I tried to be so thorough, plus I had to cover the wreckage of more than thirty-five years of life. The process was long and intense and scary—did I really want to write that down, knowing I would have to share it with my sponsor? Then I did my Fifth Step. It too was very intimidating, to be fully honest with another human being. Almost everything I shared with him was known by someone in the world, but until then, no one person knew it all.

After taking a few months to write my Fourth Step and then several hours to give away my Fifth Step, I was taken by my sponsor very quickly through Steps Six and Seven. Basically we were standing near my car and he asked if I was ready to have HP remove these character defects. I said yes, and then we said the Seventh Step prayer and moved on.

Three years later, I went through the Steps again with a new sponsor. This time, I didn’t have as many years to cover, so my Fourth Step inventory was shorter. Also, I was less scared because I’d done Four and Five before and survived. But in going through Step Six this time, I realized that being entirely ready and willing is not that easy. Maybe I’d given away my easy, obnoxious, unpleasant character defects the first time, but now I had ones I was a little more attached to! I did a Sixth Step Prayer: “God, please help me to be willing to let go those things I still cling to.” I was journaling and meditating on how to really be ready and willing to let HP remove all my character defects. I then had a very strange, moving, intense experience. I was sitting there at the dining-room table and distinctly felt that I truly was entirely ready to have God remove all my defects. That sensation lasted less than a minute. I was entirely willing to turn over everything that made me “me” to HP. This experience was special because it wasn’t done at a time of desperation but instead at a time of complete acceptance and trust. I just was willing. One of the things that most surprised me in Steps Four and Five this time was how unwilling I really was to have HP remove my addictions. I was still holding on, only willing to turn them over partially to have them be more manageable. I just don’t think I was truly willing to have and let HP remove my fear, addictions, and tendencies to be controlling and judgmental.

The third time I went through Step Six, my sponsor had me look up definitions of words. That’s a really good process for me to see a Step differently and more deeply. Step Six says, “entirely ready to have God remove these defects of character.” “Entirely” can mean “to the full extent, to the exclusion of others, wholly, to a complete degree.” “Ready” can mean “poised for action, completely prepared mentally and physically for some experience or action, willing to do or having a desire for, prepared and suitable for an action or use.” “Character” can mean “the inherent complex of attributes that determine a person’s moral and ethical actions and reactions.” “Defects” can mean “imperfections that impair worth or utility.” Also, in becoming ready to be willing to let go of these character defects, it helped to figure out the contrary action to each. I needed to know what was going to fill my Swiss cheese holes, the me I thought would exist if these core characteristics were removed. My sponsor suggested I use a thesaurus to look up antonyms. Opposite words for “anger” are “affection, calm, glee, goodwill;” opposites of “control” are “risk, relinquish, let go, give up;” some antonyms associated with “fear” are “bold, brave, courage, calm, composed, nonchalant, peaceful, optimistic.” This latest version of my Step Six was much slower than my first and less “spiritual” than my second, but it was also meaningful. It helped me appreciate Step Six on a new level.

I am so grateful for the gift of sponsors to help me work through all the wisdom contained in the written Twelve Step literature!

— Paul

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