After going through my Step Four Inventory the first time in 2010, I was scared to death to actually share it with another person. I had read in my recovery book early in my program that I had to confess my deepest, darkest secrets to God and to a trusted sponsor, pastor or unbiased friend.
At that time I remember thinking: “HUH? How humiliating! Wasn’t it good enough to give it to God in prayer and trust that He was Healing me? Why would I tell my shameful past to another person? Besides, they would just hurt me like everyone else…right? How in the WORLD could I truly trust blindly someone else. I knew it, here was the catch. I knew this recovery program was too good to be true, everything always is. No one and nothing is ever to be trusted. There is always fine print.” And I thought like this for about, oh, a good six months or so the first time I went through Steps 4 and attempted to go through Step 5. And I backtracked in my recovery and slipped into old habits because of FEAR. Do you know what fear really stands for? F.E.A.R. False Evidence Appearing Real.
I was so afraid of the false scenarios I spent more time making up in my mind about sharing my mess with my sponsor than actually DOING it for the healing that I needed to get, that I ended up having a relapse. Now, relapse can be a part of recovery, but do you see what I am saying that if we just learn to take hold of the fearful thoughts and know that God is with us and for us, and just DO the things that are being asked of us, surrender and get the help we need, we would see so much victory in our recovery and lives.
Fast forward, three years later, strong in recovery, Praise the Lord I did regain victory over the relapse and did end up completing Steps 4 and 5 (a few times). I had gotten a wonderful sponsor and life coach who really worked and worked with me and never gave up. I would never be where I am without my sponsor and without working with her and continually taking inventory and telling her about my messes. I believe that we generally give up too easily in life and we can give up on others too soon also. You never know what you can do for another person’s life if you just keep praying for them, working with them, and helping them in any way you can.
In the Catholic religion, confession is very similar to step five, you know, going and releasing your sins to the priest and being relieved of your burdens. Well in recovery, your past and the things underlying your addiction truly have to be inventoried and shared with God and another person because if not, they continued to get buried. Our secrets, pains, traumas, defects and past fuel our addiction if we do not get healing for them. This is what I consider to be the most critical step of any 12 step program.
So as I continue in sharing from the Life Recovery Workbook, here are the questions from Step Five.
1. What am I avoiding in Step Four by delaying Step Five?
2. What is the exact nature of my wrongs as listed in Step Four?
3. What interferes with my being honest about myself?
1. How do I react/respond to the truth that God does not give up on me?
2. What keeps me from being truthful with God?
3. What makes me think that I can hide anything from God?
The Plumb Line
1. Have my morals and values been in line with God’s? Explain.
2. Have I had morals and values without being able to apply them to my life? Explain:
3. What has kept me from staying in line with God’s and my own morals and values?
4. Am I ready to surrender to God’s moral “plumb line” and share my Step Four Inventory? If not, why am I hesitating?
Feelings of Shame
1. What scares me about sharing “the exact nature of (my) wrongs” with another human being?
2. Who is my fear related to in my past? How did this fear develop?
3. Has there ever been a time in my life when I felt the fear and took action anyway?
4. Have I set the appointment for completing Step Five by sharing my Step Four Inventory? My commitment to myself:
1. Why would God want reconciliation before praise when we bring gifts to him?
2. Does anyone have anything against you that needs to be reconciled? Who and why?
3. What would be the impact on your life if you opened yourself up to forgiveness of others and from others?
Freedom through Confession
1. Lack of confession and openness with others results in a self-constructed prison. Do you know what that is like? Describe it here.
2. How can confession result in such profound healing?
3. Reflect it here on God’s command to be open not just to Him but also with each other.
1. As you examine yourself, can you admit to some self-deception in the past?
2. Does anyone have the freedom to speak truth into your life on a regular basis? Who?
3. Ask three or four trusted friends to write five words describing your strengths and five words describing your weaknesses. Record them here and examine them to discover areas you can work on within your small group of trusted fellow strugglers.”
Thank you to The Life Recovery Workbook by Stephen Arterburn and David Stoop for letting me reprint the above questions to help further the recovery process for those still suffering.