Step seven of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) states “Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.” Humbly is the operative word in this step. Humility is the absence of arrogance and pride. Humility is sadly lacking in most alcoholics. We come into AA with a chip on our shoulder. We are angry at the world for the mess our lives are in. We are a physical and emotional mess and now we are being told that we need a higher power and that we have to become humble. Our pride takes a hit on both counts. This step is about surrendering our lives to something else. This surrendering of our lives does not mean we are absolved from work or that this something will do the work for us. We have to take responsibility and surrender at the same time. We need to do all of it with humility. At times it probably seems like these steps are too hard and ask too much from us. Fortunately, we take them one day and one step at a time. When we ask God to remove our shortcomings we have to mean it.
One of the definitions of remove is to eliminate something. In this step we are asking God to eliminate are shortcomings. As we have discovered in the previous steps, our shortcomings have been instrumental in causing us to drink. Alcoholics Anonymous calls alcoholism the disease of the attitudes. As in most diseases there are things we can do to prevent or recover from the illness. If we have lactose intolerance, we eliminate dairy products from our diet. In acid reflex, we take an antacid and watch our diet. In alcoholism we get rid of the character defects to the best of our ability.
Asking God to remove our shortcomings isn’t a one shot deal. We initially do this step with our sponsor. After that we sometimes need to do it daily. Often we find ourselves with a bad attitude and we immediately ask God to remove it. If we are angry with someone we need to confront the anger and find a healthy outlet for it. There are times for legitimate anger. However, we don’t need to yell and scream to get our point across. Often we will need to apologize for how we handled it not for the anger. This step doesn’t remove the human emotions we feel, we just learn how not to be so aggressive with the things that bother us. As time goes on, we will find this step easier to do on a daily basis. Alcoholics lived in chaos for a long time. Some of us even thrived on the anger and bad attitudes. As we get more sobriety under our belt, we find that doing this step everyday is welcome. We no longer thrive on the chaos but welcome the mundane things we do everyday. We begin to like the new person we are becoming.