Deborah has several alcoholic relatives. She became active in Al-anon, for families of alcoholics, over 37 years ago, often helping others.
Al-anon Members Put Their Faith in a Higher Power and Turn Their Alcoholic Over to a Higher Power, Too!
What is the Al-anon Seventh Step and How Do We Apply It?
When an Alanon member works their Twelve Step program, the first three steps involve realizing that our lives have become chaotic because of the way we have reacted to an alcoholic or drug addict, and that only the God of our Understanding can help us get our lives back on track. In fact, some people sum up the first three steps this way: "I Can't, God Can, I Think I'll Let Him."
I have found that this belief system has made my life easier. I no longer feel responsible for the actions of other people.
In the next three steps we examine our own strengths and shortcomings, rather than continue to stay focused on the alcoholic or addict. Focusing on ourselves rather than someone else can be life-changing. We take pressure off other people and we explore our own interests and personalities.
Next, in the Alanon Seventh step, we turn to the God of our Understanding and “humbly ask Him to remove our shortcomings.”
By now, we know that we can’t change other people, places or things. At this point in our program we begin to realize that we can’t change ourselves, either, without the help of our Higher Power. This is the moment when we pause to ask Him to make those changes as He sees fit. We are focused on becoming the best person we can be ... kind, tolerant and patient, but also someone who sticks up for ourselves and has definite, clear boundaries and able to express those boundaries confidently.
Now that we have acknowledged the mistakes we made in the past, both in dealing with the alcoholic and in other areas of our lives, we are ready to move forward with a new attitude and a new approach to life in the future. This is what we ask God to help us do. Change is scary. It helps to have faith that we will receive spiritual support in making those changes.
Living the 12 Steps is a wonderful way to move forward with our life, whether the alcoholics we know are still drinking or not.
This Book Gives a Wonderful Explanation of all the Alanon Steps
Turning our Lives Over to God
When we did our Alanon Sixth Step, we realized that we had to be ready to let God remove our defects of character. We had to be fully prepared to release our loved ones, to stop trying to control or change them, to stop nagging, reminding and “helping” them. Once we felt ready to honestly ask God to change these things about ourselves, we also became ready to take the Seventh Step. In essence, we decided to turn our weaknesses over to God.
Seeing the Changes in Ourselves
When we say our Seventh Step Prayer, and humbly ask God to remove our defects of character, we cannot expect a burning bush or a sudden change in the way we feel. Instead, we will slowly notice that things begin to be a bit different. Perhaps we let go of an issue or behavior that used to trouble us. A few days later we may notice that we were able to remain calm and refuse to take the bait when our alcoholic seemed determined to start a fight.
As the years go by, we should notice that we are enjoying our lives more. We have begun to stop worrying so much about the alcoholic. We are beginning to live our own lives, and we are giving others the dignity to live theirs. None of this will happen overnight. In addition, things will not always go smoothly. We will have days when we feel as if we have forgotten everything we ever learned in Alanon. That is normal.
You simply have to believe that the God of your understanding is working in your heart and mind to bring about change. Usually, the only way we can see how much we have changed is to look back at how our lives have improved over the years.
Using a Prayer Box
One way we can observe how much we have changed is to start a Prayer Box. Take any small box you want, and keep it in a drawer. Whenever you have a worry or concern, write it down and date it. Pray about it. Then, put the slip of paper with your concern written on it into your prayer box.
In six months or a year, open your prayer box and take out all the slips of paper that represent your past worries. You will find that God resolved most of them, and possibly all of them. He may still be working on a few, but most of the issues you worried about will have worked been out.
As you look at these old worries, you will also see how much you have changed. Those problems that seemed so overwhelming at the time will often seem less important now. What made the difference? The only thing we can attribute it to is that we humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings. For most of us, one of our shortcomings has often been constant worry. Other shortcomings you may have had were a lack of faith, impatience, or constantly nagging others because of your worries. As you have developed a stronger faith, become more patient, nagged less, and worried less, you can now look back and see how much you have improved over the year. You may not have become perfect, but you have certainly made progress! Progress is the goal of the Twelve Steps, and all of us can make progress.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2012 Deborah-Diane
Deborah-Diane (author) from Orange County, California on May 09, 2015:
Thank you, ezzly. I have found that it is very helpful to use a prayer box. It is a great way to release my problems. My husband and I each have one.
ezzly on March 12, 2015:
A prayer box is truly a wonderful idea, beautiful hub, voted up.
Deborah-Diane (author) from Orange County, California on September 16, 2014:
Thank you, Au Fait. Prayer is the best way to make changes in your life. Your faith can transform you in surprising ways.
C E Clark from North Texas on October 20, 2013:
Going to share this important article again. Prayer can make such an amazing difference in a person's life and hopefully this article will help get people started . . .
Deborah-Diane (author) from Orange County, California on July 25, 2013:
Thank you for your comments. Al Anon has helped many people survive a relationship with an alcoholic ... whether it is a spouse, parent, child or other family member or friend. It is terrible what alcoholism can do to a family. I am always happy when I hear that people found help!
Sondra Rochelle from USA on July 25, 2013:
This is a lovely and inspiring hub. Many years ago I was married to a violent, psychotic alcoholic and if it had not been for Al Anon, I would not be alive today. Thanks for this one.
C E Clark from North Texas on July 25, 2013:
Letting God work through us to accomplish good things is perhaps one of the most difficult things to do. Trusting that He will make the right decisions at the right time, etc., can be hard, especially if we think things aren't going as we think they should.
Prayer is also important and doesn't really require anything special. I always advise people to talk with God as they would with their best friend, because He is. He is always with us so we can share our thoughts and concerns anytime just as we would with a friend who was beside us. It is a great way to develop a close relationship. There is nothing in this world that can compete with the incredible feeling of being wrapped in God's love. Not even chocolate.
Voted up, interesting, useful, and will share.
Deborah-Diane (author) from Orange County, California on June 16, 2013:
Thank you, Au fait. I agree that God can do amazing things through us, if we pray and if we are willing to let Him. I agree that prayer is an important part of our lives. Thanks for reading and commenting!
C E Clark from North Texas on June 16, 2013:
God can do amazing things through us, but of ourselves, we can do nothing of any worth. Praying is (or should be) such an important part of everyday life. A good step to keep up. Voted up and useful.
Deborah-Diane (author) from Orange County, California on April 25, 2013:
The Alanon Seventh Step encourages us to accept that we have not always handled the stress in our lives in the best possible way and that we need to ask God to remove our shortcomings. It is a simple, but important part of the 12 Steps. In a way it is a step that forces us to accept that, although we are not perfect, God can help us get our lives back on track.
moonlake from America on April 24, 2013:
Interesting hub. Voted up.