Working the Steps: Step 7

Step Seven:  We humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.



Step Seven is critical to the cleansing process and prepares us for the next stages of recovery. In the first six steps we became aware of our problems, looked at ourselves honestly, revealed hidden parts of ourselves, and became ready to change.




Step Seven is the opportunity for God to remove the hidden areas that need changing.If you’re anything like me, your list is long and painful to reflect on. That pain may bring us to our knees, but what better place to begin with the Lord than in prayer.


If we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong. ~ 1 John 1:9

Don’t hold anything back. It’s only in surrendering everything to God that we will find healing and freedom. With our inventory list in hand, we prayerfully give each item to God. This is the painful beginning we must experience to reach the peace and joy we seek.
The list of shortcomings may cause us to dwell on our self. Meditating on Christ’s presence in our life helps change our state of mind. Soon we begin to care more for others and put our self in proper perspective. As we accept who we are today we find joy in becoming the person God wants us to be in the future.
To humble ourselves we must see ourselves as God see us. This can be difficult when our entire life has been spent seeing our self as a worthless piece of dirt. By reading and meditating on God’s word regularly we will find the value God sees in us and His plan for our life.
It takes faith and courage to ask God to remove our shortcomings. We must trust that God hears us when we pray and believe He wants to answer us. We may not feel or sense an immediate change, but in thankful expectancy we go forward confessing that God has heard our request and has begun the change in us. In time change will manifest itself visibly.
Empty of self, surrendering to God’s will and serving others; we fulfill His plan for our life.
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. — Psalm 51:10-12

Find strength to work with our theme song video by @Bryan_Duncan http://youtu.be/swNgb9ya6WM

Resources:
Life Recovery Bible
The Twelve Steps for Christians
Follow The Solid Rock Road: Pathway to Radical Recovery by Jamee Rae Pineda and Sherry Colby
Recovery: The Twelve Steps as Spiritual Practice by Rami Shapiro

Working the Steps: Step 3

“Step by step, I’m walking on water to a land no man can see.” Bryan Duncan



Step Three: We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God.


Because Step 3 is so critical, we must check our progress on the previous steps. If we haven’t done the work of Step One and Step Two we can’t go forward. If we still think we have everything under control and our sanity isn’t a problem, we probably aren’t ready to turn our lives over to God.
To prepare ourselves for Step Three we fully accept our inability to manage our lives and receive the seeds of faith God planted in our hearts. Having done those things we are ready to turn our life and our will over to God’s loving care.

Just as a building needs a firm foundation, Step Three is central to all of the steps.  We need this important cornerstone for an effective, peaceful life in recovery.

Without God in control our lives will be just as they’ve always been… a mess!

With a clear mind we commit ourselves to the decision, surrendering to God and His outcome. The more we learn to trust in the Lord, the more we will trust ourselves and that trust then extends to others. Now free from the bondage of self-will, our negative behaviors fall away; daily routines improve and life begins anew.

With God’s presence in our lives our sense of self improves, we begin to believe we are worthy human beings. We are able to give and receive love again.


I urge you, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–which is your spiritual worship. ~ Romans 12:1

You may want to pray this prayer:
God I humbly offer myself to You, build me and do with me what You want. Remove this bondage of self, so I can do Your will. Give me victory over my difficulties so others will see Your power and Love in my life.

Our theme song for Working the Steps: Step by Step by @Bryan_Duncan

**Excerpts from The Twelve Steps for Christians

Working the Steps: Step Two

“Step by step… I’m walkin’ on water to a land no man can see” ~ Bryan Duncan

Having recognized our brokenness in Step One we may feel empty and lost…

“O.K., I’ve admitted I’m powerless. Now what!?” 

Our next step will birth hope in us.

Step 2: Came to believe that God could restore us to sanity.

At this stage we are still hurting and fearful of trusting God about anything. But before we can see evidence of real change in our lives, we have to take a step of faith.

We have to step out to find out. Take the leap. Walk out on that branch.

We’ll never know what’s there until we do.

In my experience God honors that courage and meets us at the level of our expectations. Did you catch the little condition here? If our expectations are low, our results will be low. In the same way, if our expectations are high, the results will be high.

For God is working in you, giving you the desire to obey Him and the power to do what pleases Him. ~ Philippians 2:13

This Scripture is one of my favorite verses in the Bible. I like to break it down like this:

First of all, God’s going to give me the desire to do what He wants me to do. It doesn’t stop there. He’s going to give me the power to do it, too.

You may say, “That’s awesome! But it  looks like God’s doing all the work. What do I have to do?”

Believe.

Step Two gives us new hope as we begin to see help is available. We must simply reach out and accept what God has to offer. Here a spiritual foundation forms that will help us grow into the person we want to be. All we need to do is be willing to take the step.

Remember, God never asks us to do anything without first giving us the ability to do it.

You may want to pray this prayer:
In humility I pray to believe in the only Power greater than myself–God. Give me increased faith so I won’t be crazy any more.

I hope you enjoy the theme song for our Working the Twelve Steps Series:
Step by Step by @Bryan_Duncan

Copyright © 2012 Reaching Hurting Women Ministry

Working the Steps: Step 12

December… the perfect month to focus on Step 12:

Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

We are all recovering from something: hurts, habits or hang-ups. And if we’re recovering, that means someone helped us overcome our problem. And if it was Christ, we must tell others.

When I was homeschooling my children in the 90’s we had The 21 Rules of This House by Gregg Harris on our refrigerator. (still do by the way) One of my favorites is Rule #11: When we have something nice to share, we share it.

What better gift to give someone who’s hurting than your story out of bondage into freedom! 

This Christmas season, give hope to someone; take an opportunity to share what God has done in your life. I believe people are more receptive to The Good News this time of year than any other. 

For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, and wrong… slaves to passions and pleasures of all kinds… But when the kindness and love of God our Savior was revealed, he saved us… God poured out the Holy Spirit abundantly on us through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that by his grace we might be put right with God and come into possession of the eternal life we hope for. This is a true saying. ~Titus 3:3-8

Photo Courtesy 123RF Stock Photo

Working the Steps: Step 11

In preparation for Thanksgiving it’s appropriate that we focus on Step 11:


We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, praying only for knowledge of His will and the power to carry it out.

Many of us struggle with the holiday season; fighting through memories of bad choices that have left us alone, even estranged from loved ones. It is in these times that Step 11 can be most helpful.

Seeking God through prayer and meditation on His Word we will find the strength to press on…

Working the Steps: Step 10

As a part of my morning devotions I focus on a particular step as it relates to the month on the calendar.

October is Step 10…

 Continued to take personal inventory and, when we were wrong, promptly admitted it. 

Anyone who has planted a garden knows the work required to keep it healthy. We must remove rocks and weeds, nourish the soil, plant the seeds, water them and then guard them from bugs.  Most gardens once belonged to the weeds first before we began planting other flowers or vegetation. And those weeds want their space back and are willing to fight for it. Continuous care is needed to keep the garden free of weeds that will take over if allowed.

The life of recovery is much like that garden. Our lives were once ruled by weeds, our addictive habits and unhealthy behaviors. But Praise God, He has planted a new garden in our life. He pulled all the weeds and instead has planted some beautiful things in their place. He has used the 12 Steps as tools and has showed us how to do things differently. But we mustn’t let our guard down. As long as we live, we will have the weeds, our past behaviors, trying to creep back in. That is why Step 10 is critical. We must be diligent and continually take personal inventory to see if we have allowed any old habits to sneak back into our lives.*

So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall. ~ 1 Corinthians 10:12

*Excerpts taken from The Twelve Steps for Christians.

Photo courtesy of 123RF Stock Photos

Working the Steps: Step 9

Step 9: 
Made direct amends to people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

Step 9 is a culmination of the forgiveness process: forgiving ourselves and others, receiving forgiveness from God and others. But before we can forgive ourselves fully, we must first acknowledge the pain others have suffered because of our actions. Once through this process we will be closer to our goal of peace with ourselves and peace with others.

By taking inventory with Step 4 we’ve purged ourselves of hidden secrets and wrongs doings but maintained balance by looking for the good as well. In Step 5 we pressed through the shame confessing our faults to another person. Now armed with the list of persons we harmed from Step 8, we prepare to personally make amends for the things we have done.  

There are going to be people that we can’t make amends to for various reasons, but where possible we must take this important step.  A commitment to changed behavior can be an acceptable substitute when personal contact to make amends isn’t appropriate.

While painful and difficult, the amends process is critical in the healing process. Prayerfully seek God’s wisdom and discernment before making amends. Phone calls and letters are perfectly acceptable ways of making contact when face to face isn’t possible.

Some basic guidelines:

  • Pray. Turn your anxiety over to God.
  • Keep a loving attitude toward yourself and the person you’re contacting.
  • Know what you want to say. Keep it simple. Avoid details.
  • Take responsibility for your actions. Don’t make it about them.
  • Manage your expectations regarding the other person’s response. 

Remember God is a God of restoration. He will give you just the right words and timing to say what needs to be said. Give it all to Him!

If you take your gift to the altar and remember your brother has something against you, leave your gift on the altar. Go and make right what is wrong between you and him. Then come back and give your gift. ~ Matthew 5:23-24 New Life Version

Photo courtesy of 123RF Stock Photos

Working the Steps: Step 8

In my personal recovery walk I focus my daily devotions on the Step that coincides with the month of the year. For the month of August I’m focusing on Step 8. 

Step 8: Made a list of all persons we harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

In Step 8 we start to grow up. We begin doing things that mature people do–taking responsibility for our actions and the wrongs we committed.

Prior to this we have focused mostly on ourselves. In Step 4 we took our moral inventory. In Step 5 we admitted our wrongs. In Step 8 it’s time to look beyond our self to see how we affected those around us.

Step 8 is a very humbling experience. We must recognize our part in the harm that has been done to others. Removing our need to blame others and accepting full responsibility for our actions.

Like our personal inventory, remembering the faces of those we have hurt, can be a very painful process. We must write their names down, carefully considering our relationships and how we harmed them.

Total honesty with ourselves is important in making restitution and going forward with peace of mind. But along with the pain of recognizing the damage we have done, comes a welcome relief that we’ll no longer cause these injuries to our self and others.

Once the list of those we have harmed is prepared, we must ask God for the willingness needed to make the amends. With His help and in His time we can. 

 Do to others as you would have them do to you. ~ Luke 6:31

Working the Steps–Step 7

Continuing my goal to work The Twelve Steps, one Step for each month of the year; focusing on Step 7 for July…

Step Seven:
Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.

Step Seven is critical to the cleansing process and will prepare us for the next stages of our recovery. In the first six steps, we became aware of our problems, looked at ourselves honestly, revealed hidden parts of ourselves and became ready to change.

Step Seven is the opportunity for God to remove these hidden areas. If you are anything like me, your list is long and painful to reflect on. That pain may bring us to our knees, but what better place to humble ourselves before the Lord in prayer.

We must not hold anything back. It is only in surrendering everything to Him, that we will find true healing and freedom. We must take the inventory list and give each item to God; only then will we experience the serenity that brings the true joy we seek.

Going down the list of shortcomings can cause us to dwell on our self. To take our mind off self, we can meditate on Christ’s presence in our life, on being free to live life following His example. We will soon begin to care more for others and put our self in proper perspective. We will begin to understand who we are and find joy in becoming the person God wants us to be.

To truly humble ourselves in the biblical sense, we must see ourselves as God see us. This can be difficult when our entire life as been spent seeing our self as worthless. By reading and meditating on God’s word regularly we will find the value God sees in us and His plan for our life. We must empty our self like Christ did, surrender to God’s will, serve others and thereby fulfill God’s plan for our life.

It takes faith and courage to ask God to remove our shortcomings. We must trust that God hears us when we pray and believe He wants to answer us. We may not feel or sense an immediate change, but in thankfulness we can go forward confessing that God has heard our request and has begun the change in us. In time change will come to our sight.

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. — Psalm 51:10-12

Originally posted January, 9, 2009

Working the Steps: Step 6

Having been out of town the better part of the month, I’m late posting June’s 12 Step work. Better late than never 😉 Blessings…

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

Getting ready for God to remove character defects in itself is a process. Some character defects are like old friends, comfortable and available.

We can’t even get ready with out God’s help!

In Steps One and Two we realized our powerlessness and found God’s Power to be greater than ours. Step Three we turned our life and our will over to God. Steps Four and Five we admitted hard truths to God, to ourselves and to another person.

Now in Step 6 we wait for God to do some internal work on our hearts. It’s not an action step on our part, but rather preparation that will enable us to become ready to release our character faults when the time comes in Step 7.

This is not quick work. Most of our character defects have been deeply ingrained in us since childhood. These patterns of behavior were often used as coping mechanisms in a traumatic environment. It will take time and practice to switch from our comfortable character defect to trusting God and allowing Him to be completely in control.

We must see our faults not as comfortable friends but harmful behaviors that have begun to control our lives. Once we know the truth about our faults and what must be removed; we can overcome our fears and with God’s help, gather our self in readiness to go forward in recovery.

Humble yourself before the Lord and He will lift you up.~ James 4:10