Saturday, July 16, 2022

Steps 6 and 7: A spiritual Get out of jail FREE card

Step 6:  Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.  

Step 7:  Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.  


Koan: “How many steps did it take to get to this room?”

~ Pacific Zen Miscellaneous Koans

 [“…to get to this room?”, the teacher is asking about the room where they are sitting for one-on-one teaching. On a larger scale, how did we arrive at this place and time in our lives?

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If I had only applied myself better to my studies and not been so immature, I probably would not have flunked out of college on my first try. This likely would have resulted in getting a different degree, possibly working for the US Forest Service in a different state. Being a 22-year-old recent graduate, I would have been ripe for the Draft and off to Viet Nam. If I survived that, I’d most likely be married to a different woman. 

·     But I did flunk out of college, a step that directed my life.

·     Following my cousin’s choice, I joined the Naval Reserve – six months of active duty training, then a commitment of one weekend a month plus two weeks in the summer, for 5 years. I was one of those Weekend Warriors.

·    Then I found myself back living with my parents and taking classes at the local Junior College, to make up for all the Ds and Fs. 

·    Went back to the school that I had flunked out of, but it was no longer a fit. I dropped out which is better than flunking out.

     Summer school and one quarter at another college, this time my grades were good enough and all is well.

·    Early January, 1968, Beth and I had our first date. In my essentially zero experience of dating, she seemed like a pretty nice girl. So I asked her out again...

·    January 19th, my reserve unit was recalled to active duty, report to NAS Alameda immediately! Oh no! Do you remember the USS Pueblo, the naval destroyer captured by North Korea? That’s why we were recalled. I would spend the week on the base and drive three hours north to see Beth on weekends.

I’ll speed things up. Getting called up to active duty was the catalyst that led to us getting married in July. We got an apartment in Walnut Creek. Beth would drive me to the base in the morning and pick me up after work. By December, our unit was released from active duty. In January I was back in school, and as they say, the rest is history – we will be celebrating our 54th anniversary next week.

I’ll date myself bringing up a 1950s TV show called “The Life of Riley”, where the star, William Bendix, would inevitably say, “what a revolt’n development this is.” How did my difficult development come to be? 

With some reflection, I can usually retrace my steps back to reveal the evolution of my troubles; either (a) a way comes to me via AA principles for resolving my problem or (b) it does not. Others may ask or I ask myself, “Have you tried Steps 6 and 7?” Caught in my self-imposed jail, Steps 6 and 7 are a spiritual Get Out of Jail FREE card.

Step 6 greases the skids to Step 7…and the ideal lubricant for greasing the skids is admitting my powerlessness over it all. When in doubt, go to your Higher Power.

The steps I might have taken had I not flunked out; the steps I did take have led me to writing this blog; and what about the steps it took for me to become an alcoholic, and the steps it took for me to get sober, and the steps it takes for me to stay sober…every one of these developments has required taking certain steps – some leading to revolt’n developments – and some leading to gratifying developments.


Bill K.

Barbara F-K writes: 

I truly believe that I am a sum of my “ growing “ steps.
 I have not shut down the door to my past.  Instead, I am grateful for all those learning experiences because it brought me to where I am today.
Today I can continue to take the steps , necessary to not only keep me sober, but keep me in “the sunlight of the Spirit.”
And that includes steps six and seven.

Thank you for being part of my recovery.