To me getting rid of or lowering my character defects is a daily exercise. When I first completed Steps Six and Seven I went home and did the suggested prayer:
I am now ready that you should have all of me.
Good and bad.
I pray for you to remove all my defects of character that stand in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows.
Grant me strength to go out from here to do your bidding.
Due to those that went before me I know that ‘removing my character defects’ doesn’t happen just because I pray for them. I have a lot of work to do. The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous states, “Faith without works is dead”. This means I have to realize what my defects of character are (Steps Four and Five) and start to do something about them. My Higher Power gives me the willingness and strength to do this.
An important part of the Step Seven prayer is the part that states,”… remove all my defects of character that stand in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows.” This means that some of my character defects will be left behind as they could aid me or another human being in some way unbeknownst to me. I have found this to be true.
Recently I have found myself embroiled in a battle with a group of very unscrupulous individuals. As a result of this I’ve had character defects springing up around me. These defects include anger, anxiety and distrustfulness and, yes, even a little bit of resentment. However, due to these character defects I believe I have been able to stand up for myself and others against a group of spiritually sick individuals whom mean harm. This fight is almost over and I have already begun the work of lowering/ridding myself of these defects once again.
Edmund Burke once said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” I feel, in my soul, that the battle I’ve been talking about is just such a time. I have faith that what is meant to be will happen.
As a person of long-term recovery I’ve realized that it’s easier to concentrate on ridding myself of one specific character defect (while keeping the others in mind) then trying to rid myself of all of them at once. So far this has worked for me. Most recently I’ve been working on my patience in traffic. My character defect of impatience (and maybe intolerance of other people’s driving) has been coming out a lot. The result is a loss of my serenity and a great deal of expletives within my car. I often find myself having to start over my day by reciting the Serenity Prayer while driving. The last few weeks I have made a concerted effort to work on this issue. While it has not totally gone away I find the problem has lessened considerably.
Prior to practicing the 12 Steps I would never have tried this, or if I had, I would have been extremely self-critical for not getting it100 per cent correct. Today I know that as long as I do my best I’m okay. My acceptance of what is – is greater than the expectations I place on myself and others.