RA offers hope, sanity, and recovery, especially to those who, despite their best efforts, have yet to find full recoveries, no matter what their problems or behaviors may be and their family and friends.
V Broaden and Deepen Your Understanding of the Twelve Steps
7) Step Seven
Broaden and deepen your understanding of Step Seven.


“Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.”

1. It was suggested that you pre-read all the pages devoted to Step Seven from the12 & 12.

2. Please remember that we don't want to convince you of anything. R.A.'s experience has been that if you read this material, you will come to the same conclusions that we have. We want to endorse your conclusions, not convince you of ours.

3. In the 12 & 12, please turn to page 70, the first page of Step Seven.

4. Starting in the second paragraph, the second sentence says:

“For without some degree of humility, no alcoholic can stay sober at all.”

5. On page 72, in the first paragraph, in the middle of the seventh line from the top of the page, it says:

“Seldom did we look at character-building as something desirable in itself, something we would like to strive for whether our instinctual needs were met or not. We never thought of making honesty, tolerance, and true love of man and God the daily basis of living.”

Skipping a sentence:

“For just so long as we were convinced that we could live exclusively by our own individual strength and intelligence, for just that long was a working faith in a Higher Power impossible.”

Skipping two sentences:

“As long as we placed self-reliance first, a genuine reliance upon a Higher Power was out of the question. That basic ingredient of all humility, a desire to seek and do God's will, was missing.”

6. One of R.A.'s members shares:

A working faith now allows me to know what God's will for me is. What happens, the way something turns out, that's what His will for me is.

7. When she didn't accept God's will, when she fought it, when she placed self-reliance first, and believed she knew better than God, it was impossible for her to be humble, or get humility.

8. When she determined what she should do, and how she should do it, when she insisted on discipline and self-control, when she insisted that the responsibility, the recovery was up to her, where did God come in? She now recognizes that praying “God, give me the power to do it my way!” is not humility!

9. Here, the same points that were in the first three steps are brought up again: “As long as we place self-reliance first…”

10. Another one of R.A.'s members shares:

"I needed to stop telling God what to do and how to do it. I can't keep relying upon myself to know what's good for me.

"I need to remember that when I came into program I looked at myself in a mirror, and at 250 pounds thought that I could stand to lose five or ten pounds. I also have to remember that when I reached 150 pounds, I looked in the same mirror, and still thought that if I could only lose another five or ten pounds, everything will be fine.

"I didn't see myself as fat, and I didn't see myself as thin. I now recognize that I can't trust my own perceptions. With such tangible evidence that I don't know what's good for myself, how can I presume to tell God what's good for me? I now recognize that I can't rely on myself; I never could.

11. We could never depend upon ourselves, we could never rely upon ourselves and we could never control ourselves before. There's no reason to think WE can do it now.

12. Step Seven humbly asks HIM to remove our shortcomings. It is not a question of our removing our own shortcomings, or of asking Him to give us the power or the ability to remove our own shortcomings. We're not even asking Him to help us to remove our shortcomings. We're actually allowing Him to do it for us. We're actually allowing God to do for us what we could never do for ourselves.

13. One of R.A.'s members shares:

"I had always thought the responsibility for dealing with my defects rested squarely on my own shoulders.

"I thought I had to be responsible for taking the actions needed to remove my shortcomings. Then I actually read Step Seven. It says, 'Humbly asked Him…' God—not me—to remove my defects. With humility, I then requested that God remove my defects of character. The responsibility rested with God, not with me.

"I realized that if, for example, I went into a restaurant and humbly asked the waiter to bring me a meal that would be prepared by the chef, and then I jumped up, ran into the kitchen, prepared it myself, and brought it to the table myself, then I had not humbly asked anyone anything."

14. Step Seven allowed her to recognize that the responsibility for removing her shortcomings rested on God's shoulders instead of her own. She never had the ability to remove her own defects; God does. She could louse it up and fail; God can't.

15. It may not be easy to let go of the old idea, the belief that we are responsible for removing our defects. This erroneous belief inevitably results in our having painful feelings of failure when we don't succeed. But, we try to give up these old ideas in order to thoroughly follow the path the pioneers followed, because that's how it worked for them and how it works for us.

16. In the 12 & 12, on page 74, in the first paragraph, in the middle of the third line, it says:

“We are obliged to choose between the pains of trying and the certain penalties of failing to do so. These initial steps along the road are taken grudgingly, yet we do take them. We may still have no very high opinion of humility as a desirable personal virtue, but we do recognize it as a necessary aid to our survival.”

17. The humility in this step was coming to recognize that, as it tells us in the Second Step, many of us for our entire lives prayed wrong. We had always prayed for God to grant us our wishes."God, please do what I tell you. You be nice to me, and I'll accept and love and worship you. If you do this for me, I'll do something for you."

18. By always bargaining, by praying wrong, we were frustrated because God did not carry out our wishes. God does not have to follow OUR good orderly directions.

19. With our unreasonable expectations, we inevitably set ourselves up for those feelings of failure. Trying to control the things that we had proven, time after time, to be impossible for us to control, could only lead to failure.

20. One of R.A.'s members shares how she got so much out of the story “Doctor, Alcoholic, Addict,” in the Third Edition of the Big Book.This story is now called "Acceptance was the Answer" in the Fourth Edition of the Big Book. She shares:

Acceptance is the key to this step for me. Many people tend to start quoting from this story on page 449 (page 417 in the Fourth Edition), where it says, “And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today.” I, however, like to start quoting from the bottom of page 448 (page 416 in the Fourth Edition), where the author says:

“Okay, God. It is true that I—of all people, strange as it may seem, and even though I didn't give my permission—really, really am an alcoholic of sorts. And it's all right with me. Now what am I going to do about it? When I stopped living in the problem and began living in the answer, the problem went away. From that moment on, I have not had a single compulsion to drink.

And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today.”

The author is saying that when he began living in the answer, the problem went away. Living in the answer, and acceptance IS the answer. When we begin living in acceptance, the problem goes away.

When I accept the world as it IS, when I accept people, places, and things as they ARE, they're no longer a problem for me.

I can accept that it's God's will for things to be the way they are. When I accept that things are as they should be, then I am putting myself in tune with God's will. It is with humility that I finally accept that God does not have to do what I tell Him to do.

When I humbly ask God to remove my shortcomings, I now accept that He is going to do it His way, not mine.

21. In the third edition of the Big Book, at the bottom of page 449 (page 417 in the Fourth Edition), the story continues. It says:

“When I complain about me or about you, I am complaining about God's handiwork. I am saying that I know better than God.

“For years, I was sure that the worst thing that could happen to a nice guy like me would be that I would turn out to be an alcoholic. Today, I find it's the best thing that has ever happened to me. This proves I don't know what's good for me. And if I don't know what's good for me, then I don't know what's good or bad for you or for anyone.”

22. In the 12 & 12, on page 75, in the second paragraph, in the middle of the fourth line, it says:

“We began to get over the idea that the Higher Power was a sort of bush-league pinch hitter, to be called upon only in an emergency. The notion that we would still live our own lives, God helping a little now and then, began to evaporate. Many of us who had thought ourselves religious awoke to the limitations of this attitude. Refusing to place God first, we had deprived ourselves of His help. But now the words ‘Of myself I am nothing, the Father doeth the works' began to carry great promise and meaning.

“We saw we needn't always be bludgeoned and beaten into humility. It could come quite as much from our voluntary reaching for it as it could from unremitting suffering. A great turning point in our lives came when we sought for humility as something we really wanted, rather than as something we must have.”

23. One of R.A.'s members shares:

"I would turn to God only in an emergency. I would say, 'God, I don't want to drink now. Please help!' Or 'God, I don't want to eat now. Please help!' Or 'God, I don't want to be depressed now, please help me!'

"I never thought of turning to God and praying 'God, I'd really rather not eat right now, but if you want me to eat now, I trust you're not going to let me hurt myself.' Or 'God, I'd really rather not drink right now, but if you want me to take a drink now, I must trust that you're not going to let me hurt myself." Or "God, I'd really rather not be depressed right now, but if you want me to be depressed now, I know you're not going to let me hurt myself.' I never thought of saying 'Thy will, not mine, be done,' and then accepting the results."

24. We say, “Thy will, not mine, be done.”

25. Whatever GOD wants, WHATEVER His will is, that's what we adjust to. If things were meant to be different, they would be different.

26. Our energy needs to go into accepting what IS as what's right for this moment. Most of the time we've been able to see that our feelings about a situation were not necessarily the reality. It was just our perception.

27. There is the story of two men on a mountainside.

It starts raining, and one of them starts jumping up and down, cursing God because it's raining on his picnic. The other man starts jumping up and down and shouting “Hallelujah” because it's raining on his crops.

The same rain, the same mountainside—different perspectives, different needs—which did not make either man right or wrong. It was from their own individual perspective that it was good or bad—not the reality of the situation.

28. One of R.A.'s members shares that he's experienced this many times in his recovery.

"I can now look at the times when I eat, drink, or react emotionally more than I'm now comfortable with, and can see that compared to how I used to behave, I am not hurting myself or others as I would have before program. I can now trust how God has me act and react in life.

"What I can't trust is my own perspective. Acting in trust has sometimes led me to do things that I perceived as being harmful. The reality of the situation is this: after years of frequently doing things that I am not always comfortable with, the proof that I have reacted sanely and normally is demonstrated by the fact that I have not hurt myself or others.

"I need to look at the result of turning things over to God. I can now look back at the things that didn't turn out the way I wanted them to, and see with 20/20 hindsight that God's will turned out better than my own way would have. I can now see that my solution would not have produced results as good as the result that God's solution achieved.

"I now recognize the difference between asking God to give me a hand to carry out my own will, and actually letting God do things His way. I now recognize the difference between trying to direct and guide God, and allowing myself to be directed and guided by God."

29. In the 12 & 12, on page 76, the first paragraph, starting with the second word of the sixth line, it says:

“We have seen that character defects based upon shortsighted or unworthy desires are the obstacles that block our path toward these objectives. We now clearly see that we have been making unreasonable demands upon ourselves, upon others, and upon God.”

30. By expecting God to remove natural instinctive drives, by expecting ourselves to be perfect at doing something that we're powerless to do, by expecting people to be there for us when they have no obligation to be (our sponsors, the meetings, etc.), we're making unreasonable demands upon ourselves, upon others, and upon God.

31. Asking Him to remove a natural instinctive drive is certainly an unreasonable demand. Asking God to give us a hand, a little help now and then, to do our will, is an unreasonable demand.

32. One of R.A.'s members shares that when he first heard the Serenity Prayer, he thought it was a demand.

“God, you damn well better grant me the serenity to accept, and if you don't grant me that, you damn well better grant me the courage to change, and if you don't grant me that, you damn well better grant me the wisdom to know what's going on.”

It wasn't until I read it the way it is in the 12 & 12 at the end of the Third Step, on page 41, where the fourth line, “Thy will, not mine, be done” is included, that I was able to recognize it as a request. I then saw that whatever I got, whether it was serenity, or courage, or acceptance, or wisdom, was up to God, not up to me. Then I started getting results.

33. The deeper objective of Step Seven is to recognize what humility is so that we can begin to practice it. Basically, humility means to stop making demands upon God and to start making simple requests.

34. In the 12 & 12, on page 76, in the second paragraph, the last three lines, say:

“Therefore, no peace was to be had unless we could find a means of reducing these demands. The difference between a demand and a simple request is plain to anyone.


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