Working steps 6 and 7 with humility enables us to access the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ to turn our weaknesses and shortcomings over to God so He can remove them. An important aspect of this process is to understand is the difference between sins (deliberate choices to turn away from God) and weaknesses (lack of skill or ability). God gives us weakness (Ether 12:27). It is a part of the human condition.
In “It Isn’t a Sin to Be Weak,” in the April 2015 issue of the Ensign and Liahona, Wendy Ulrich has written a masterful explanation of the difference between sin and weakness. In it she explains important concepts relating to the purpose of weakness (to lead us to God), how to distinguish sin from weakness, and how we should handle each in our lives. She says:
“We cannot simply repent of being weak—nor does weakness itself make us unclean. We cannot grow spiritually unless we reject sin, but we also do not grow spiritually unless we accept our state of human weakness, respond to it with humility and faith, and learn through our weakness to trust in God… As we are meek and faithful, God offers grace—not forgiveness—as the remedy for weakness. Grace is an enabling power from God to do what we cannot do on our own (see Bible Dictionary, “Grace”)—the appropriate godly remedy by which He can ‘make weak things become strong.’”
Overcoming Weakness through Humility
We can overcome some weaknesses by hard work and practice. But what about character weakness? What about interpersonal skills that continue to create problems in our relationships despite our own best efforts to overcome them?
When we turn to the Lord, in humility and faith, and acknowledge our weakness, he can give us grace. Through His grace we can first become willing to let go of the weakness and then actually ask Him to remove it.
In the parable of the vine (John 15:1-11), the Lord does not say that the branches must prune themselves in order to become more fruitful. He says that God, who is the husbandman (see verses 1-2) will purge the branches so that they will bring forth more fruit. Do you believe that you would bring forth more spiritual fruit if your weakness was removed? Then you need to become willing to let go of it and ask God to remove it. This is a two step process.
Step 6: Becoming Ready
“Become entirely ready to have God remove all your character weaknesses.”
Recognizing a shortcoming or weakness is a prerequisite to asking for it to be removed. But identifying it is not enough. We must become entirely ready to have God remove it.
In a previous post on Step 6 I have suggested that one approach to becoming entirely ready is to visualize what new behaviors will take the place of the one you are trying to eliminate. Yet most of us still want to make these changes by ourselves. And after all, what if God’s idea of what I will be like without this shortcoming is different than mine? A Guide to Addiction Recovery and Healing says “Probably the most humbling thing to acknowledge is that you still harbor a prideful desire to change without the help of God.” (p. 35). If this is because we don’t trust Him to deliver the outcome we envision, we might need to review step 3.
If trust is not the issue, it may be feelings of unworthiness. We may think, how can I ask God to help me when I haven’t done all that is humanly possibly to overcome this by myself? The truth, as Brad Wilcox describes so well in “His Grace is Sufficient,” is that any and all of our own efforts are not really our own anyway. God has given us every bit of power we have to do anything. We need to let go of pride, admit our powerlessness (see step 1) and face our shortcomings and weaknesses with humility.
Step 7: Asking God for His Help
“Humbly ask Heavenly Father to remove your shortcomings.”
Humility is the key to step 7. If we go through the motions of asking Him to remove our shortcomings without sincerity and humility, we are wasting our time and breath. He will not—indeed he cannot remove our shortcomings unless we let them go. He will not override our agency. So long as we are stubbornly or fearfully holding on to our weaknesses, He will not remove them.
What does humility look like in taking step 7? Total surrender. Acceptance of God’s will even when we don’t know what it is. Unconditional willingness to become clay in the Master’s hands, to be molded and formed as He sees fit. Acknowledgement that we have failed to live up to our God-given potential, and that we are ready to allow God to enable us to do so, no matter what.
I testify that when we take steps 6 and 7 in true humility, even if it is born of desperation, God will help us to experience the change of heart spoken of in the scriptures. In so doing, we will begin to blossom and bloom in ways we could not have imagined. I have seen it in myself. I have witnessed it in those who have shared their stories in ARP meetings. I have nurtured it in the lives of those I sponsor.
- What shortcomings or weaknesses are you ready to let go of?
- Do you trust the Lord to remove them?
- What are you willing to do to let them go?
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