The Nodding Steps


Step 6, the first of the Nodding Steps:

I found after the cathartic release of completing (if we ever complete anything) the 5th step with my sponsor, that I was eager to move on to make my amends list and the direct amends to persons I had harmed. I only had one or two reservations on a couple as to how and if I was going to approach them.

So, I quickly and as well as I could “did” the 6th and 7th steps, or rather, nodded to them on the way past to get on with my list. I asked my sponsor what the differences were between 6 and 7. His short answer was that defects of character were doing things I should not be doing, and shortcomings were things I should be doing but was not.

“Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character”

I never paid any attention to the ominous start of step 6: “This is the step that separates the men from the boys.” (Women from the girls.) Had my Higher Power not already removed my obsession for alcohol which had ruled and dominated my life for years? Surely, He must be capable of anything if I am willing? I was willing to be less angry, shameful, resentful, jealous, irrational, etc. But I was willing to be be less . . . not not at all. Some of these defects were surely only exaggerated parts of God-given instincts to live? To be alive, to eat, to reproduce, to be safe and secure, to be part of society . . . So if my HP was to take them away, would I have any will to live?

In the 12 & 12 it also says, “but in no case does He render us as white as snow and keep us that way without our cooperation.” We need natural drives and desires in order to live. It talks about the defects of character and I find myself again in all of them, to a greater or lesser degree. Feeling superior, sex excursions dressed up as being romance, the most enjoyable self-righteousness, gossip tinged with anger to politely attack someone’s character, glutton in comfort eating, envious living, and finally the sloth of daily life.

Today I ask my HP to save me from indulging in those behaviours, and when I am feeling good and everything is going my way, it’s a doddle, I can even be self-righteous about how righteous I am. But on other days, when I am not at my best, in some sort of pain, or someone has pushed my buttons, I can find these feeling coming back. Over time, I have learned to recognise them quicker and do something about them. I am still a work in progress, striving for spiritual growth, not perfection.

I sometimes speak with people who, after doing their 5th step, think that maybe they didn’t do it right and should do it all over again. In some cases, they’re right. But in other cases, like mine, it was a matter of going back to steps 6 and 7 and trying to understand them more, instead of just nodding past them on my hurry to move on.

I had a conversation with a sponsee recently about this step. Does God remove our character defects, never to have them return, or do we keep them buried deep within?

Has God removed all my defects of character? I suppose it depends on how willing I am on a daily basis to have them removed? Maybe one day they will be removed and never return? I don’t know . . .

Arthur Z.