Step 4, Honesty and Truth Before God
Step four is tricky. It's a real tough step, it requires of us to dig down deep into our souls, and attempt to understand our shortcomings.
Step four reveals truth, and this revelation of truth - however painful the process may be - creates a beautiful foundation of honesty for a redeveloping relationship with God. Step four allows us to open our souls with real honesty to the Lord, and for the first time in a long while (for most of us) it allows us to really start feeling His love.
Step four calls for you to make a searching and fearless moral inventory of yourself.
Searching and fearless, not something you do in an hour, and something that requires real courage to do well. We don’t tend to enjoy looking at our faults, but if we are to have any chance of getting better, we have to.
How Is It Done?
Both AA and the Christian 12 steps have you examine how you deal with resentment, fear and sex.
You create a page with four columns running down, and you start with the first column, and in this column you list all of your resentments. Resentments you have towards people, institutions and even ideas; and you continue writing until you have exhausted all you can think of.
Then you move to column two, and you list for each of your resentments why it is that you resent it, and you complete column two before moving onto the next column. Column three has you list how the resentment has affected your life. Has it affected your pride, your finances, your relationships or your ambitions? You finish this column before starting the last, and arguably most important column.
The fourth column has you look at how you dealt with each situation, each resentment. For each resentment, you are asked to fearlessly examine how you reacted with dishonesty, selfishness, fear or self seeking behaviors.
When you have finished with resentment you move onto fear and then sex, and repeat the same process twice more.
An Exercise in Humility!
Wow, talk about finding out - in detail - our flaws of character! It's a very painful but very liberating process of self discovery, and it's always humbling; and it does for us two incredible things.
Firstly, it forces us to turn the tables on how we have long looked at resentments we harbor. Instead of looking at "what they did to me" you start to examine "How did my actions in that situation make things worse". Once you can honestly let go of your one sided perceptions of resentments harbored, you begin to realize that all situations exist from a two sided dynamic, a dynamic between two fundamentally flawed people. Neither of you are perfect, only Christ is, and it's not your responsibility to judge anyone, that's God's job! Once you can see that you share some blame for the resentments you harbor, it becomes very easy to let go of your blame for others; and once you can do that, you will experience an incredible freedom!
These negative emotions just drag us down, and if we can free ourselves from them, we take a giant step forwards in our recovery, and a giant step forward to better lives of Christian Humility.
Understand Your Need for God
A lot of our behaviors as alcoholics and addicts are probably best described as selfishness, and this is something we really start to see as we make our fearless and searching moral inventory. We start to see very clearly the ways in which we are flawed, and we see very clearly how we so desperately need Christ's guidance and strength.
Oddly, although we might think that a realization of how flawed we truly are would feel bad, the realization of much we truly need God feels wonderful!
We need help and we know where to get it!
Prayer starts to feel a lot more real. Once we have been honest with ourselves and with God, we open ourselves up to hear His message, and that feels good too.
Step four is tough. It takes courage, determination and time to do it right, and we rarely like what we see of ourselves once finished. Step four is also beautiful. It's the first concrete action a lot of us have taken in a while that truly brings us closer to Christ, and the power of that is indescribable.
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