We've been reading the chronicles of Narnia with our kids for the last couple years and recently finished The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. There is a scene in that book that just pierced me. The symbolism is powerful and I really couldn't think of a better way to explain Step 7. So I'm just going to share the passage here. [It will be a condensed version but it will still be long.]
For background- Eustace is the boy cousin of Edmund and Lucy Pevensie. He is obnoxious, selfish and arrogant. He ends up being transported to Narnia with his cousins and they find themselves on board a ship. The ship makes landfall on an enchanted island, where Eustace drinks from a pond and is transformed into a dragon. As a dragon, he is miserable and lonely, and his heart is softened and changed. He describes to Edmund being transformed back into a boy.
"I looked up and saw the very last thing I expected; a huge lion. I shut my eyes tight. But that wasn't any good because it told me to follow it."
"You mean it spoke?"
"I don't know. I don't think it did. But it told me all the same. And so I followed it. And it led me a long way into the mountains where there was a garden and a well. The water was clear and I thought I could bathe in it. But the lion told me I must undress first. I suddenly thought that dragons are snaky sort of things and snakes can cast their skins. So I started scratching myself and my scales began coming off all over. I scratched deeper and my whole skin started peeling off beautifully. I stepped out of it and I could see it there lying beside me, looking rather nasty. It was a most lovely feeling.
But just as I was going to put my feet into the water I looked down and saw that they are all hard and rough and wrinkled and skaly just as they had before. So I scratched and tore again and this peeled off beautifully and out I stepped.
Well exactly the same thing happened again. So I scratched away for the third time. But I knew it had been no good. Then the lion said
'You will have to let me undress you.'
I was afraid of his claws, but I was desperate so I just lay flat down on my back and let him do it. The very first tear was so deep I though it had gone right to my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off it hurt worse than anything I've ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off.
Well he peeled the beastly stuff right off- just as I thought I had done. And there I was, smooth and soft. Then he caught hold of me and threw me into the water. It smarted like anything but only for a moment. After that it became perfectly delicious. And then I saw that I'd turned into a boy again.
What do you think it was?"
"I think you've seen Aslan," said Edmund.
"Aslan! I've heard that name mentioned several times. I hated it. But I was hating everything then. And by the way, I'd like to apologize. I'm afraid I've been pretty beastly.
But who is Aslan? Do you know him?
"He is the great lion, the son of the Emperor. He saved me."
Change can be excruciating. There is a quote from Step 7 that I love.
"We begin to notice that behavior. We bump into it, over and over again. We begin to feel the pain from that behavior, the helplessness, the hopelessness, our own inability to change. And we wonder how things will or can ever be any different."
I think that's what Eustace went through as the dragon. Finally he realized how horrible he had been, and yet now he was totally helpless to do anything about it. I think for many addicts when they hit rock bottom and realize their powerlessness, they feel like Eustace. It is totally obvious that they can't change on their own.
But for me, I hadn't been totally horrible, it wasn't so obvious that I even NEEDED to change. But Steps 4-6 filled me with awareness of my own behaviors that were making me miserable and sabotaging my relationships. And with a little humility I realized that I wanted to change. Becoming refined and feeling redemption is precipitated by pain and suffering, the only way is through. But ultimately I'm looking for some joy and "delicious" relief.