The 7th step of the A.A. program is:
“Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.”
“Humbly asked” – that might sound simple. But to be truly humble, I had to let go of pride. My drinking and drugging was in part a mask to hide how unsure and unloved I felt inside. You might wonder, then, what I had to be proud about.
In fact, in my using days, pride was one of the things that got in my way. Pride that I could hold down a good job and be active in the community. Pride that I could drink and toke all night and go to work the next day – not fully sober, but that was “no big deal.” Pride that I could roll and smoke a joint while driving. Pride that I could drink and drive and “not hurt anybody.” How crazy! What poor judgement! At work, I could have made serious mistakes while under the influence. While drinking and drugging and driving, I could have killed someone (or myself).
Working through some of the earlier steps of the A.A. program helped me get ready for Step 7, helped me see that my alcoholic and using behaviour really was insane. It was no fun to look at what I used to think was normal, to see that it was crazy and dangerous. Those actions and my attitude that were nothing to be proud about!
In A.A., “let go and let God” is said often – in meetings, in readings, and in stories one alcoholic tells another as we each work on our sobriety. This expression really describes what I had to do in working Step 7. I had to let go of my pride, and I had to let go of the bad things I had done when drinking and drugging. For this, I really leaned on my Higher Power, learning to let go, to surrender, without arrogance and in true humility.
It was not easy, and it took many times of trying this step over years but it was so worth it. I have learned from doing this work that surrendering to a Higher Power is a richly rewarding experience. For me, the act of surrendering, of letting go, means becoming very present. Instead of thinking about what will/might/should happen next or what had happened in the past, I have learned to focus on this very moment, to be truly present and intentional in my thoughts and actions. By surrendering, I can connect deeply with what is happening, and be humbly present. Only then is it possible to ask my Higher Power to remove my shortcomings. No need for excuses, no distractions, just truly in a state of grace at that moment.
I don’t mean to say that I live in a state of grace and surrender all the time – far from it. But through A.A., I have learned how to get there. Surrendering – letting go and letting God – has become a very important part of working my program and living the intentional life I wish to lead. For me, it is a deeply spiritual and wondrous part of my life.