I was afraid that if I asked God to remove my shortcomings, I would have nothing left. I was particularly fearful about shortcomings I had gotten a lot of mileage out of —- sarcasm, arguing with my spouse, being resentful over his acting-out with men, etc. What would I do with all the time I spent thinking about the other person, the time I spent obsessing about the “problem,” the time I spent telling people how unfair it was? Indeed, that time could be better spent in countless other ways, but letting go of shortcomings can be difficult. S-Anon helped me find the clarity to ask myself, “Is this defect really so useful — particularly when it also brings up the hurt, humiliation and guilt of my past?” Even though my answer is usually “No,” I sometimes still hesitate to ask God to remove my shortcomings.
I remember one incident very clearly. I was in a restaurant observing (actually judging) people around me. I was consumed with thoughts of how people should order, should look, should dress, should, should and more should. I was so preoccupied with“correcting”all these people that I lost sight of the reason I was at the restaurant — to enjoy myself and my dinner companions! Feeling my serenity disrupted, I momentarily stopped myself and thought about what was happening. I became aware that being judgmental of others was a real problem in my daily life and that this lack of humility prevented me from enjoying my own life and appreciating others as God created them. I tried to think of good things about the people in the restaurant but quickly again fell into self-righteous “correcting” instead of concentrating on what was in front of me. Finally, I remembered Step Seven and silently said, “God, please take these thoughts.” Amazingly, relief was just a prayer away! God removed the obsessive, judgmental thoughts, and I finally focused on enjoying my dinner companions.
Sometimes it feels as if I am on an island surrounded by my defects of character and I will never be rid of them all. Then I remember that Step Seven tells me I am not able personally to eliminate my shortcomings. All I need is willingness to have them removed and a humble heart to ask the God of my understanding to release me from the self-defeating shortcomings from which I want to be free.
Reprinted from S-Anon Twelve Steps, page 77.