October 23, 2015
We made a fearless and searching moral inventory of our lives.
“I’m too scared to do an inventory of my life. I’m afraid of what I will discover.”
It’s appropriate to be cautious, setting out on an exploration of one’s life, and I always suggest that having a wise and experienced sponsor and having taken those first three steps to persons interested in such an undertaking.
It’s wise to consider the challenge ahead seriously. It’s important to set aside enough time for reflection and a plan for doing an inventory.
It’s helpful to plan ahead so that you give yourself the time to take as long as it takes, and it is a good idea to have a start-up time and a flexible end-time, and when you get bogged down or if you move from doing an inventory either to flogging yourself or making excuses for yourself, a good sponsor can help keep you on the course.
It makes a lot of sense, as well, to realize from the beginning that it’s pretty easy to slide over into telling yourself that “it wasn’t that bad” or “I am the worst person in the world”.
Either response to a moral inventory leads to a dead end.
It’s a good idea to have a sponsor who knows the program really well and who knows you really well so that he or she can tell you when you are blaming someone or something else for the pain you’re in.
Children blame. Adults take responsibility.
* * * * *
There are all kinds of barriers that will seemingly rise up out of nowhere to keep you from moving through this step. Here are some I’ve had to face:
Inability or unwillingness to see or to own responsibility for one’s own actions.
Over-responsibility that makes a person take all the blame for a situation.
Misunderstanding of the purpose of the Fourth Step….or of the whole program of recovery.
Fear Fear Fear
of doing it wrong
of finding out something that is too terrible to admit
of having to change
of thinking that self-awareness and self-knowledge will lead you to self-disgust
of thinking that following this program will somehow give others control over you
Commitment to living as a victim
Lack of practical aids — a sponsor, a guide, a plan, good support
Flawed understanding of God and sin and self-knowledge
Seeing only your liabilities, defects and sins
Fear of discovering the gifts and assets that are yours and taking responsibility for them
You may have your own unique and self-designed resistance to this moral inventory, but at the heart of the process lies the question, “Do I want to recover from my ________________?”
If the answer is no, then you can keep on keeping on down the road you’re on, and with this reality:
We always arrive at the destination that is at the end of the road we’ve chosen to walk.
* * * * *
Question: “Can’t we just leave well enough alone?”
Answer: “Yes, when it is well enough.”
Here’s what I know for sure: Cleaning up the inner toxicity of my life — my guilt or shame, inferiority or inadequacy, anger or hate and fear — is one of the most loving things I can do for my family and the world — and for myself.
That which is not worked out or talked out will either be projected out, taken out or acted out onto others, often the ones we love the most.
Guilt that is not forgiven will either be self-punished or repeated. Count on it.
This step isn’t punishment, for crying out loud. It is about live in grace and mercy and freedom.
Step Four is about liberation, healing, transformation and empowerment to live the “one wild and precious life” you have been given.
So, have courage. Go boldly, and yes as fearlessly as you can into a clear-eyed, loving examination of your life — your strengths and your weaknesses, your successes and your failures, your good deeds and your mistakes, your loving acts of kindness and your sins against yourself and others.
My guess is that knowing oneself as one really is opens the possibility of loving oneself — one’s True Self — as one is taught to love one’s neighbor.
* * * * *
What about you? What is your experience with the whole issue of admitting your defects, sins, flaws, mistakes to yourself?
Have you ever “gone to confession”, only to have it be a forced, phony expression of contrived contrition?
Have you ever done a “Daily Examen”?
What is your biggest fear in knowing yourself as you really are?
A Prayer for Self-Honesty
how can I ever see myself
as I really am? I am so good at hiding
How can I stop
the wide spring, back
being too hard and too harsh on myself
on the one hand,
letting myself off the
justifying my behavior,
turning a blind eye
to the things
I don’t want to see?
(How can I finally understand
that just because I refuse to see
myself as I am
doesn’t mean that others
are as blind as I choose to be?)
Please grant me the grace
to see myself as You see me.
Please grant me the mercy
to accept all of mySelf…..even as You do….
And Please give me the courage
to come to You….as I am.
Show me who You made me to be
and who You intend for me to be today….
and help me to accept mySelf,
no matter how wonderful I might
turn out to be.