Follower: a 6th

It’s an old story/illustration. Trappers, seeking a way to catch some brand of monkeys without harming them, would cut a small hole in a coconut and stick a candy inside as bait. The coconut would be attached to a chain that kept it from being carried away. The story is that a monkey would reach inside the coconut to get at the candy. Once its paw grabbed the candy it couldn’t fit back out of the hole with the candy. The monkey would still be there, grasping its’ candy, unwilling to let go when the trappers came back the next day.

It seems intuitive that when you realize that something is bad for you – not just ‘bad’ in some moral sense but “bad for you” as in “this will kill you or make you wish you were dead” – that you would run away from it.

Turns out…no so much.

There’s an old proverb that runs it this way, “In the same way a dog returns to its vomit, a fool goes back to what hurts him.” Graphic image. Hard truth.

After listing our defects of character and sharing them with a trustworthy human being we come up against this 6th step.

“Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.”

The hard part: ENTIRELY ready. I’ve met a lot of people mostly ready, kind of ready and even a lot ready. Seldom do we get to ENTIRELY ready. The Big Book of AA says, “Half measures availed us nothing. We stood at the turning point. We asked His protection and care with complete abandon.” I can’t even begin to list all of the defects I’ve offered to God and asked him to remove while I steadfastly gripped them with the other hand. Even when God offers something better in return I’m so afraid to let go of the crap I hold on to that the only word for it is ‘crazy’. I’m just a monkey it would seem.

But when I wake up and I’m entirely ready it’s not about me cleaning the defects out of my life. That’s religion. It’s about God removing them. He just lets us have our way until we’re finally entirely ready to let him have his.

And then the next hard part – because we enter a process that sometimes stretches us, sometimes scrapes crap off of us, sometimes cuts through the layers of dead skin we’ve grown to protect our hearts, sometimes burns us with a passion for us that is so intense that it actually hurts. And this process sets us free.


About brianmpei

Stumbling towards what comes next.
This entry was posted in 12 steps, Christianity, Church, denial, God, recovery, religion, theology, truth. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Follower: a 6th

  1. Dede Nicholson says:

    Also makes me think of Eustace with his dragon skin.

  2. Judy says:

    Step 6 has a BIG Step 1 inside of it. Powerless to do it on our own. Only God can. As “How it works” says, “…. God could and would if He were sought. (italics mine). Many of us believe firmly that God CAN do something. Not everyone believes that He WILL do it. That hesitation comes from our own insecurity and woundedness.

    We were entirely ready. Sick to death of the defects, powerless to remove them, desperate for God to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves (I know; I tried; I failed. Again and again.) The apostle Paul knew all too well this dilemma. “Oh wretched man that I am! who will deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Rom 7) He accepted the duality, knew that it doesn’t happen in a moment of time.

    But he was entirely ready for God to remove those defects of character. And he lived one day at a time, believing that God would remove them, confident in the knowledge that if any condemnation came down the ‘pike, it didn’t come from Him. In relationship with God – with a small child’s trust that calls out, “Daddy!” and knows that Daddy hears and loves.

    I’m only beginning this lifestyle, after decades of living in religiosity and churchianity. I only learned how to live it by going to AA – (how’s that for irony!!) It’s an exciting lifestyle, lived progressively in layer after layer of depth of relationship and intimacy with the One who is beyond Time. Always enough, always more….

  3. TJ says:

    I’m really losing my taste for vomit, but I still catch myself licking the’s stupid and disgusting…so much time, so much life wasted.
    Each time I am ETIRELY ready for God to remove ONE defect at a time, and I (capital I) get to pick which one…
    But surprise, surprise and Oh Spit….It’s not the one He picks….and He always tosses in a few extra…So I learn to roll with it…to trust…that this is going to be hard, painful, sad, and eventually over. That I will come out different, changed, and oddly excited about the next time, the next lesson. And calm at the same time…that’s the strangest part…calm…
    i’m re-reading these posts…to put this, me, in perspective…i don’t have a substance abuse, not addicted to sex or porn, not raging…no big story here….i don’t stand out, i don’t speak out, i just blend in the backgroud, try to make myself small, take up as small a space as possible…i’ve been told that will be my downfall….there are people out there who have life-changing stories that inspire and encourage…my story is for those like me, who have had God in their life so long, it’s like breathing…you don’t remember when it started but it did or you wouldn’t be here…for those who have lived quietly, just under the radar, thinking you’re ok, no problems here, good lil girl, never hurt anyone…my story for you who don’t think you have a story…cuz if i have one then you most certainly do…i found my voice when i turned 51…don’t wait that long…don’t waste your time…
    End of rambling… >”< Great posts Brian…thank you.

  4. Michelle says:

    I’ve found the sixth and seventh steps to be profound, life-changing stuff.

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