Delegate's Bulletin Board
Step 7 Serenity Prayer -- 6 September 2020
Ed L., email@example.com, (760) 964-0012
Personal Mission Statement: “I’m committed to being totally available and responsible to Mid-Southern California Area 09 members, to help provide a healthy infrastructure to communicate among individuals, Groups, Districts, Area, and the General Service Office, while using as few acronyms as possible!”
After years of invariably seeing the Serenity Prayer with the enlarged words, SERENITY, COURAGE, and WISDOM, I was sitting in a meeting about nine months ago, looking at three of the littler words: accept, know, and change. Since then, I’ve capitalized them as well: ACCEPT, KNOW, and CHANGE. I now think of them as the secret formula for working Step 7, embedded (until now) in the Serenity Prayer. I guess the word, “secret,” may not be entirely appropriate, because it’s there for all the world to see; it’s more like “more will be revealed.”
A few years ago, in Phoenix, AZ on the evening of a La Viña celebration, I attended a meeting with my late sponsor, John W, where I heard a lady share that she is in partnership with God when it comes to Step 7. That God shows her character defects to her, but it’s entirely up to her as to whether she continues to exercise them or not, whether they get better or worse. My evolving understanding of Steps 6 and 7 is that Step 6 asks for my willingness (“entirely ready”) and Step 7 asks for my action (“humbly ask”). These, in turn, relate back to Step 3, where I’ve turned my will (“intentions”) and my life (“actions”) over to God. Pretty interconnected, huh?
Nowhere in Steps 6 or 7 is it implied that God will snap his (or her) big white fingers and remove my character defects. Some of us think that we ought not work on removing our character defects, at all, and I agree. Rather, I think we ought to work on replacing our defects with their opposites until they become “character assets.” On the surface this may seem like removal, but is it? How exactly do I remove a behavior? I either do it or I don’t, and once I do, it can’t be removed (except by an amends…which is a new behavior exercised in Step 9). I believe that right action replaces wrong; that bad behavior is not removed, rather it is replaced by good behavior (or not, for those defects we knowingly or unknowingly cherish).
So, how does this relate to the Step 7 version of the Serenity Prayer? First, we have to ACCEPT that a given behavior is defective. I finally accepted that my alcoholism was a defect of character easily enough (although it did take me 28 years); the last two times I drank, I fell asleep at the wheel of my wife’s speeding car, and I went to jail. Voila (French for “ah ah”), I’d worked Step 1! There must have been a CHANGE because I haven’t had a drink since. And, believe me or not, I KNOW that I haven’t had a drink since. For another example, let’s say I ACCEPT the fact that I’m fat because I eat a half dozen doughnuts for breakfast three times a week, so I CHANGE by not eating so many doughnuts, and (voila, French for “light bulb moment”) frequent trips to my bathroom scale let me KNOW.
In Love and Service,