Twelve-Step Spirituality: Week 3
Step 7: Letting Go
Sunday, November 29, 2015
We humbly asked [God] to remove our shortcomings. —Step 7 of the Twelve Steps
We can never engineer or guide our own transformation or conversion. If we try, our so-called conversion will be self-centered and well-controlled, with most of our preferences and addictions still fully in place but now well disguised. Any attempts at self-conversion would be like an active alcoholic trying to determine his own rules for sobriety. God has to radically change the central reference point of our lives. We do not even know where to look for another reference point because up to now it has all been about me! Too much “me” can never find “you”—or anything beyond itself.
So Step 7 says that we must “humbly ask God to remove our shortcomings.” Don’t ever bother to go after your faults yourself because you will usually go after the wrong thing (the real thing remains denied in the unconscious). Or you might actually obstruct your “golden shadow” which is your gift. “If you try to pull out the weeds, you might pull out the wheat along with it,” as Jesus puts it (Matthew 13:29).
Instead you have to let God reveal your real faults to you, usually by falling many times, and by other peoples’ opinions of you. You must allow God to remove those faults in God’s way and in God’s time. If you go after them with an angry stick, you will soon be left with only an angry stick—and the same faults at a deeper level of disguise and denial. Thus most people at early stages in alcoholic recovery just replace one addiction with another. Now it’s nicotine, caffeine, shopping, “stinkin’ thinkin’,” or the angry stick itself, which is supposedly okay because it is a Christian angry stick.
Jesus said, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7). He was telling us to stay in the position of a beggar, a petitioner, a radical dependent. This is always our spiritual posture, if we are honest. To know that you don’t know, to know that you are always in need, keeps you situated in right relationship with Life itself. Life is a gift, totally given to you without cost. A daily and chosen “attitude of gratitude” will keep your hands open to allow and receive life at ever-deeper levels of satisfaction. But don’t ever think you deserve or have earned it. Humility is foundational. Those who live with such open and humble hands receive life’s gifts in abundance and throughout their years, “full measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over into their lap” (Luke 6:38).
Gateway to Silence:
One day at a time
Adapted from Richard Rohr, Breathing Under Water: Spirituality and the Twelve Steps (Franciscan Media: 2011), 62-65.