Alcoholics Anonymous has as an honest and noble goal, one that isn’t too daunting for most people – that progress is the goal, not perfection. We can’t turn ourselves into perfect little people by reading a book and following the steps. No amount of pleading or divulging or surrendering will keep us from what we are – fallible, erring human beings.

Step 7 of AA is a small progression from Step 6, involving the move from accepting your character defects to asking God or your higher power to remove them. To “humbly ask him to remove our shortcomings,” we are accepting our failings and surrendering the power to him to heal us.

For some people, Step 6 and Step 7 occur simultaneously. In fact, if Steps 2 and 3 were completed easily (belief in a higher power, and willingness to turn our lives over to that power), then Steps 6 and 7 are a piece of cake. A true belief in a higher power makes these steps a natural progression.

For people like me, however, without that faith in a higher power of any kind, these steps almost have to be omitted from the search for sobriety. I’m not talking about an atheist or an agnostic, I am talking about someone who simply does not believe there is anything out there beyond the sky and the stars. We live our lives, we die. That’s it. An extremely self-centered and small-minded approach, I know, but one that I believe to be true – at least until proven otherwise.

My friend Joe has taken Steps 6 and 7 sincerely to heart. He prays to a higher power to continue to manage his life and his sobriety. He fully accepts that he is not in charge. I admire his faith but don’t share it. Sometimes I wish I did – it might make all of this a lot easier