From the June 2011 magazine.

June 2011: It Beats Being a Jerk

Reading the “Twelve and Twelve” helped this nonalcoholic trustee to finally embrace Step Six

It is not easy to write on the Sixth Step. So I shall have to do some sharing. My first response is resistance. I greatly admire and approve of all Twelve Traditions. Although I am not an alcoholic, I have also tried to incorporate Steps Two through Twelve as part of my discipline of daily living--with one exception. I find myself bridling and resisting Step Six. I most certainly do not feel “entirely ready to have God remove all my defects of character.” True, I certainly admit to having defects of character, and I am more than ready to rely on a power greater than myself to provide me with the strength to admit them and to provide me with forgiveness. I am more than willing to work Steps Four and Five, but to assert that I am entirely ready to have God remove all my defects of character just goes against my grain.

It goes against my grain for several reasons. First, I feel my defects of character are my responsibility. I would be a wuss to ask for help removing them. Second, we are talking about my underlying defects of character. Over the years I have grown attached to some of them. If I decide to give them up, okay; but I am not sure that I want to have any third party meddling with them. Third, the Sixth Step in its short form just fills me with unbelief and makes me feel hopeless. Acknowledging God’s capacity to help me with hope strengthens my faith. My capacity to love and receive love I perceive as largely God’s work, as I understand him/her. But. I don’t believe God can just remove my defects of character any more than he is about to make the sun shine when it’s raining. Thus, although there is a great deal in life that fills me with hope, the Sixth Step is not one of them. I believe that a Higher Power can remove an alcoholic’s obsession with alcohol; that belief fills me with hope and explains why, as a physician, I love the Fellowship of AA. But to say that I am ready for “God, as I understand him” to give me release from just being a jerk, just makes me dig my heels in deeper. So the short version of the Sixth Step fills me with unbelief.

-- George E.

Vaillant, Maryland

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