I recently had the opportunity to present on Step Six in my home group and I was blessed with a way of presenting Defects of Character that were true to both our tradition and to my personal spirituality at this time.
I mentioned how Bill W. in 12 Steps & 12 Traditions relies on the Judaeo-Christian tradition of the Capital Sins to delineate what he means by “defects of character.” I took each of those defects and gave them a contemporary spin.
Here is my spin:
Pride — Addicts and alcoholics tend to be “ego-maniacs with low self-esteem.” Co-dependents tend to be “ego-deniers with low self-esteem.” Both are manifestations of pride, either elevating oneself above others or lowering oneself beneath them. The Chippewa community has a saying: “In this community we are all of the same height.” That is true humility and so the question is: Do I need, by the grace of God, to lower myself to the level of my brothers and sisters or might I need to pray to raise myself to their level?
Greed — The code word for greed is “MORE.” It is basically the desire for material wealth at the expense of spiritual wealth. As spirituality becomes more important to me in recovery, material wealth will become less significant.
Lust — The code word for lust is “NOW.” I want it and I want it for my own pleasure and I want it right now. Lust confuses sex with intimacy. As I become more intimate with myself and others, sex becomes less significant.
Anger — The code word for anger is “justice.” I have a heightened sense of injustices done, especially to me. As I continue to recover, I am more aware of injustices done to others, often by me, and more ready to forgive.
Gluttony — This is a first cousin to greed. I want to consume more than my body requires, more food or anything else. And the more I consume, the hungrier I get. As I recover, I am more attentive to what my body is asking. I used to tell my body what I was going to give it, now I listen as my body tells me what it needs.
Envy —I want what you have. I desire your ability or situation without attending to my own. The more I walk my side of the street, the more grateful I become for the one life that is mine and less envious of your life.
Sloth — The code word is “INERTIA.” I keep continuing in the same direction and trajectory, whether it be work or sleep. I do not wake up to realize that “if I keep doing what I am doing, I will probably keep getting what I am getting.” In recovery I quit avoiding and procrastinating and begin the hard work that is real life.
Such is my spin on “defects of character” today. I trust you will take what is helpful and leave the rest.
Peace on the journey,