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July 1988

Unwanted Guests

Step Ten Keeps our defects at the door

For some reason, I gave little thought to Step Ten in my sometimes painful journey toward emotional sobriety. Perhaps it was because not many AA meetings seemed to be on this Step, and when it was the topic, I had cotton in my ears.

I was always careful to thank God each day for my sobriety and to ask for his guidance in helping me meet each day's situations in a manner which reflected his will. But my failure in continuing to take a frequent personal inventory, admitting my wrongs, and treating Step Ten as a viable, stabilizing entity had left a gaping hole in my program.

By asking a lot of questions, listening closely at meetings, and expanding my AA reading program, I developed a clearer understanding of what this Step can do for me today if I let it.

First of all, the Step allows me to be exactly what I am--a fallible, error-prone, less-than-perfect human being. In using Step Seven and asking God to remove my shortcomings (as I was able to define them in Step Six), I immediately started building new defects by not following through with Step Ten's suggestions. In addition, the identifiable defects which I asked to be removed were repeated within an alarmingly short period of time.

Just as my alcoholic ego is never dead and buried, my defects have a remarkable capacity for rebirth, and new ones appear as unwanted guests. If I'm not alert, they'll make themselves comfortably at home, often without my immediate knowledge.

Steps One through Nine helped me reach a point where I felt pretty good about myself. I wasn't such a bad person after all. It was time for me to start working the program and Step Ten has become solid bedrock for letting it take place. My failure to activate the Step at frequent intervals during my early months of sobriety inhibited my growth in the program. As someone once said, "When God seems far away, who moved?" Invariably, I was, and am, the one out of sync.

A most gracious lady put it very aptly at a meeting when she summed up the meaning of the AA program by saying, "The program lets me rest." There's great beauty in those five short words. Proper program maintenance, using Step Ten, keeps this beauty flowing in its proper perspective as I prepare to complete my third year of sobriety, a day at a time. It permits me to be gentle with myself.

For me today, the Tenth Step is truly remarkable. When I keep it up front, it helps me to more easily use the entire Twelve Steps, thereby providing me with the reasonable assurance that progress can be maintained at an acceptable level, provided I use the suggestions contained in this miraculous program.

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