Step 7: Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
Student: “What is Zen?”
Teacher replied, “Attention, Attention, Attention!”
When we do Step 7 we’re asking for help.
Yet, at meetings, how often have you heard people say, “I hate asking for help?' It’s ego deflating to admit that I can’t do this by myself. It’s a stumbling block for us, and our AA ancestors knew this. No wonder that the Big Book makes no bones that our ego must be smashed.
We also don’t like admitting things. It’s the pulling of our covers that leaves us exposed; and a smidge of honesty is required, too. We’ve already done some admitting early on in Step 1 when we admitted we were powerless over alcohol. Now we’re taking it to another level, not with our sponsor; but instead, a one-on-one asking for help from our Higher Power. This is not the time to let one’s guard down. Our alcoholic mind and its pact with our ego will tell us, “You don’t need to do this…you can do this on your own…we’re a team…we’ve done it before…hey, remember that other time when we…?”
Instead, it’s the tapping into my True Self, my innermost self who is open to Step 7 (and all the Steps for that matter). How? (1) By attending to what’s at hand and (2) by recognizing the importance of conversing with a personal God.
Step 6 is where our attention begins as a condition of readiness. The 7th Step Prayer on page 76 begins with a retelling of Step 6: ”My Creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad.”
In Step 7 we’ve begun applying our mind, a focusing of consciousness with a view to action, with asking being the action, “I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows.” (p 76) Attention requires effort and control. Yes, we actually have control over our attention.
My friend gives a good example of this. At a grocery store, he waited and waited, thinking that he had being ignored by a worker at the meat counter. He could feel his irritation level rise, and when a different worker said something to him, blistering rude remarks spewed out at the man. Immediately he knew his behavior was way out of line and promptly made his amends.
He told us that he knows had he been paying attention to how things unfolded; by recognizing an old character defect of his, by stepping back and doing a short Step 7, he could have stopped his fuming irritability before erupting.
What is Zen? What is Step 7?
· We’re paying attention to our Higher Power.
· We’re paying attention to what is troubling us.
· We’re paying attention to lessening the grip on who we think we are. This brings about some humility.
· We’re paying attention to the sincerity of our words in asking God to remove our shortcomings.
· We take it easy after asking, allowing spaciousness within for relief to rest – a relief from the load we’ve been carrying to dissipate.
· Paying attention to the details of one’s life.
Coming up next month is another opportunity for attention and Step 8.