When I finished my first Step Five, I was eager to continue. After all I was nine months sober, and ready to work my way through Step Twelve and get the step process behind me. I asked my sponsor what I should be doing, and he reminded me with his slow Mississippi drawl to read Steps One through Five again to be sure I had done them to the best of my ability. After confirming that I thought I had, I asked him what I needed to do with Step Six. At this point I was reminded that at the end of the essay on Step Five in the Twelve and Twelve, it suggested that this “brings us to a resting place”.
If you are reading this you probably know that there’s more to that sentence, but that’s all I heard, so I proceeded to get comfortable in my mental “resting place”.
Several months later I found myself becoming antsy, so I approached Bob and asked what I needed to do to move forward to and through Step Six. Like almost everything else I had imagined that early in the program, it was not what I thought it was.
First, he pointed out that in both the Big Book and the 12 and 12 the word “willingness” was used in the very beginning of the written discourses, and that willingness was the principle behind Step Six. Then he reminded me that I had uncovered some character “defects” when I wrote my Fourth and shared my Fifth. He further reminded me that I’d made a decision to have faith in Step Three, and I was going to have to lean on that faith again in this step.
Now I know that I’ve heard no truer words, for this step was going to ask me not only to “aim for perfection”, but as I was to read later in the steps, that “nothing but persistent effort on this (and all the) step(s) would bring about the desired results”. So my first lesson was that this step was not going to be a slam-dunk that I had thought it was going to be. After all, I didn’t remember hearing much discussion on this step in the rooms.
So in order for me to “aim for perfection”, I had to have some sort of vision or idea of what that meant to me. That sounds simple enough, but it’s really asking me do decide what I wanted to be when I grew up, and I had a lot of growing up to do. I had to determine who and what that person was. As importantly, I had to figure out what I was as a person. Hopefully those two characters would intersect, and they did. I found my answers in all the principles behind the steps, as well as in the Prayer of St Francis, found in the Eleventh Step essay in the 12 and 12.
I have come to realize how enormous an opportunity Step Six was (and is) for me. As much as abstinence changed my life, this is the step where I get to choose the values for my life, and what the man I want to be looks like and how he acts, and with that vision in my mind, and the rest of the Steps as tools, my value goals seem within my reach. I’m not the complicated person I once thought I was, I’m just a man who takes great joy in doing the next right thing and helping others if I can.
~ The New Yorker Group
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