Perspective: Taking the Garbage Out

by Tony A.

God drives the garbage truck … and I pray for the willingness to take the garbage out.

My very first attempt at working Step Six was a bit convoluted, I must say.  I was so delighted with the feelings of release and elation from just having done Step Five with my sponsor, and was so dreading my coming work with Steps Eight and Nine, that I think I really did not understand the impact of Steps Six and Seven at the time. I also don’t think that I fully trusted God or the power of the steps in the manner that was necessary to really embrace the work of change, but I made a beginning and that was important.

Having learned very clearly of my character defects from a rigorous and thorough examination with my sponsor in my Step Five work, I was then asked to reflect upon them and become “entirely ready” to have all of them removed.  In theory, this seems like a walk in the park.  However, this hasn’t been the case with me.

Many of these defects I have lived with for much of my life, both the really objectionable ones that cause me grief and the ones that give me benefit or pleasure.  As I’ve journeyed along in sobriety, the more sublime character defects that “seemed” to not be so glaring at the time have reared their ugliness as I’ve continued uncovering and discovering what is actually blocking me.  I work and rework these steps, and each time the truth becomes more visible and real for me, and more is revealed.

The process is really so exciting and fundamentally good for an alcoholic of my type.  What I at first thought was a process of becoming perfect and “getting good” has really been a process of letting go and surrendering, particularly in terms of perfection and ego.

I have heard it said our defects are like survival skills that are no longer serving us.  Many of these defects will cause me pain and suffering in my sober life, in particular with my personal relations.  This is very true for me, as many of my defects are an offshoot of the “parent” defects of selfishness and self-centredness.  When the pain of living in these defects becomes more unbearable and embarrassing than the fear of letting them go, I am then in a ripened position to be entirely ready to have my higher power remove them.

My work in Step Six really depends on how earnestly I have made the decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of God as I understand God in Step Three.  Step Six reminds me that I am powerless to remove these defects on my own and that I am in a partnership with a Power greater than myself.  I really need to make the commitment to have God remove these defects – this is the deal in Step Six.  I am to accept myself as I am, flaws and all, and become willing to let go of all that stands in the way of my health, growth and usefulness.  No other action is needed, as the rest is really up to my higher power.

Let Go and Let God is the essence of Step 6 for me, and I use this mantra in my meditation practice as a reinforcement to continue with my willingness to be entirely ready.  When I fall short of my values and ideals in my spiritual journey, I continue to pray for this willingness. Today there certainly is more depth and weight to this practice, cultivating much deeper layers of honesty and willingness.

I am also reminded that my higher power removes these defects, not me, and my part really is to try to remain open and willing and to stay on course.  All that I can do is pack up the garbage and bring it to the curb to keep my house from getting smelly.  I then need to exercise patience, since God is in charge and he really does do the work in the next step.

The inner blessing of Step Six through its spiritual principle of “willingness” is that of deepening my faith and trust in a higher power.   I need not struggle alone, attempting the impossible.  I am reminded that God can and will do for me what I cannot do for myself – when I let him.

About the Authors

Renascent Alumni
Members of Renascent's alumni community carry the message by sharing their experiences and perspectives on addiction and recovery. To contribute your alumni perspective, please email