Parent Caregivers – 12 Step Program Step 6: Allowing God to Fix our Flaws
This series Parent Caregivers 12 Step Program is adapting the “Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous” to caregiving from the book Self-Care for Caregivers: A Twelve Step Approach. In last week’s post we discussed admitting we were wrong. This week we discuss being ready for God to take over our flaws.
The authors of the book suggest using a journal to write down your thoughts, feelings, and observations as you move through the steps. You can pick one up right here at a reasonable price.
Entirely Ready for God
“We’re entirely ready to have God remove all our defects of character.”
Step 6 is all about being ready to have God remove all our defects of character. The reason that we took an inventory in earlier steps was so that we knew what to ask God to help us with. While he knows what we need, its important for us to also know so we can help ourselves improve.
The idea that we need to be ready to allow God to work in our lives can similar to a farmer picking oranges. We are beautiful and growing into what we are meant to become. However, if we are not ripe and ready to pick, then the farmer will leave the us on the vine to ripen. The farmer has no reason to intervene. Being ready for God to help take our defect of character is a state of being. It is similar to Step 3, but it a deeper surrender that gives God complete charge of our lives so that we can produce what is rich and valuable to those that we love and that we are caring for.
This is one of the hardest stages of caregiving. We are called to make change, to do or be something that we are not at this moment. The reason this step doesn’t ask us to do something physical is because of how great the effort is internally to do the work. The only thing we are called to do is change. Yet, biologically we want to stay the same, as change is scary. What will we have to give up if we change, will we have to give up who we really are? Will I discover something hidden behind my flaws? Will it be worse? All of this takes tremendous courage.
Yet, to be the best caregiver or parent we can be, we must find a way to assume this state of readiness, this state of receptivity. The end result will be finding our deeper purpose within it all, but it is still very challenging.
It is a Slow Process
This step is asking a lot of us. It is good to know that it really takes a lot of time to do it. You cannot change decades of habits and behaviors in only a short time without some struggles and some difficulty. As I mentioned, this was a hard stage for me. Honestly, it still is. It isn’t necessarily like all the other steps, as it is a step that will continually be revisited throughout your journey. You will move forward and backward, but that is all completely natural.
For me, changing meant that I was not already doing enough as a parent. I feared what changing would say about me now. Did I do enough before now? Was I impatient before now? Was I angry at my child before today? Of course the answer to all of those things was that I did enough for the person I was at that time, I was indeed impatient and angry before. But in order to progress, one must change.
I tried to look at it like “if I improved, what would that look like?” If I could forgive who I was to be able to become what I could – then would leaving behind the old be worth it? Some days it felt worth it, others it didn’t. If you think this might be hard for you as well, or the idea of getting ready to let go seems a bit obtuse, here are some suggested actions that might help take you along the path.
Consider what it takes to get ready for an event. What do you need to do if you are going to a show with a friend? What do you need to do if you are going to a gala or a dance? Think of maybe 5 to 10 events that you have had to take some time to prepare for in the past. Now consider what you did before the performance started. Then ask these types of questions:
- What did it take to become ready?
- What did you have to give up to be ready in time?
- How much did you need to change to be ready?
- What was the possible result of not being ready?
- What was the consequence of not being ready?
- Was getting ready worth it?
Now, pick just one of the events you thought of and the answers to the questions and visualize what ready looked like and felt like. Once you do that, pick one of the character flaws from your list and visual what being ready for God would look like. What did it take to be ready, did you have to give anything up?
Once you visualize it, then open your eyes and put into place the things you need to be able to receive the blessing of God. Then rinse and repeat for all the problems on the list. Be sure to do this slow and steady. It is not a race and lasting change will not result from you rushing the exercise. Slow and steady wins the race in this case.
I am still doing this, as I do it everyday as part of my prayers. I ask that God help me work on whatever the most pressing weakness of character I have at the moment. Sometimes I really feel the weight lift from my shoulders, other times I know that my hands are closed tight and I am not open to receiving. Some days I still get angry or resentful, while others I show up better and act as if I am the person that I want to be for my child. Over all, I think I am a better parent because I do the internal work.
What do you think of this step? Did it bring up good or bad feelings for you? What comes up for you here? What works for you?
Source: Loosely Adapted from “Self-Care for Caregivers: A Twelve Step Approach” by Pat Samples, Diane Larsen, Marvin Larsen
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