Step 4

The purpose of a searching and fearless moral inventory is to sort through the confusion and contradiction that we have experienced in our lives.  We have begun a new way of life and need to rid ourselves of the burdens and traps that controlled us and prevented us from growing.  Through step four, we will begin our journey of finding out who we really are.  Up to this point, we have been experts at self-deception and rationalization.  By writing an inventory, we can overcome these obstacles.  Honest self-assessment is one of the keys to our new lives.

The fourth step is the beginning of a new era in our recovery.  Working steps 4-9 can be thought of as a process within a process, where we use the information we learned from the previous step to help us get through the next.  This method of learning about ourselves is as much about learning our character assets as it is about learning the nature of our wrongs.  It will help us to highlight the unresolved pain and conflicts of our past so that we are no longer at their mercy.  It provides us with a choice and a measure of freedom. 

So you might wonder what it means to take “searching and fearless” “moral” inventory.  Within this step, the word “moral” has nothing to do with specific codes of behavior, societal norms, or the judgment of an authority figure.  A moral inventory is something we can use to discover ourselves morally, our own morals, principles, and values.  They don’t have to relate in any way to the principles, morals, or values of others.  A searching and fearless inventory involves continuing with the inventory despite our fears.  It means having the courage to be honest, no matter how we feel about it, even if it makes us cringe inside.  It requires determination to be thorough, even when it seems as though we have written enough.  Finally, it means having enough faith to trust the process and trust our Higher Power to give us the ability to make it through.   

Ultimately, an inventory becomes a sort of relief, because, as you will learn, the pain of doing it is less than the pain of not doing it.  Through step four, we learn that pain can be a motivating force in recovery.  It can motivate us to remain sober so that we no longer feel the need to isolate or let the things that are bothering us build up.  When issues surface, we acknowledge them.  We begin to really enjoy our recovery because we have discovered a way to resolve shame, guilt, and resentment.  By acknowledging them, we have released the stress that was once trapped inside of us.  We have developed an ability to survive our emotions!  Today you can have relief from the stress you have been carrying around.  Today you can become or remain motivated to overcome your past.  Today you can remain sober!

(Photo by Fuu J on Unsplash)

Step 3

In the first two steps, we engaged in reflection.  We realized that we were powerless over addiction, but also realized that faith is possible.  Although they required our acceptance, these conclusions did not require any action.  Starting with step three, the remaining steps require affirmative action.  Faith is certainly necessary, however, it will not be sufficient to achieve a successful recovery on its own.  In step three we are asked to make a decision.  This decision is based on faith.  Specifically, a decision to believe that there is a force for spiritual growth that can help us in obtaining and maintaining a successful recovery.  A decision to change direction, to stop rebelling at the natural and logical flow of events in our lives.  A decision to stop wearing ourselves out trying to make everything happen as if we were in charge of the world.  Ultimately, we are accepting that a Power greater than ourselves will do a better job of caring for our will and our lives than we have. 

Prior to becoming sober, our will and our lives were often times controlled by our addiction.  We were trapped by our need for instant gratification that alcohol gave us.  At first, this may have been a pleasurable experience, but after some time, the euphoria wore off and we saw the ugly side of our addiction.  We discovered that the better alcohol made us feel when we were consuming it, the worse it made us feel when we weren’t.  It is at this point that we have to make a decision.  Either we can suffer through the pain of withdrawal or drink more; or we can look for another way.  In step three it is suggested that “another way” can be obtained by turning our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand him.  At this point you might wonder what will happen to you if you continually turn your will over to something/someone else.  It is this kind of thinking that takes no account of the facts.  The facts, in this instance, seem to be that the more we are willing to depend on a Higher Power, the more independent we will be.  

We might wonder at this time who our Higher Power is and what our Higher Power’s will is for us.  Our Higher Power’s will for us will manifest as we work the steps, however, it is suggested that we choose an understanding of a Higher Power that is loving, caring, and greater than ourselves.  This could be a variety of things.  Some examples include God, nature, the twelve-step group, the spiritual principles of the twelve-step group, or any personal power or being in which we can communicate.  Once we begin to have an understanding of what/who our Higher Power is, it is important that we begin to form a relationship with that Higher power.  This will include being able to communicate with our Higher Power, being open to communication from our Higher Power, and having feelings about our Higher Power.  As we mature in our recovery, we will begin to form an understanding of our Higher Power that gives us peace and serenity.  At this point, if we are willing to surrender and be open-minded, our fear starts to lessen and faith starts to grow.  We no longer have to fight fear, anger, guilt, self-pity, or depression.  We are slowly beginning to lose the paralyzing fear of hopelessness.   Today you can turn your life and your will over to the God of your understanding.  Today you can shed the weight that self-will carries with it.  Today you can overcome hopelessness! 

(Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash)

Life

When you should be dead by rights and death is in your sights.
When you wake up from a coma and you still smell death’s aroma
When you can’t eat, and it hurts to speak, and comfort is all you seek.
When you can’t walk, and people can’t understand you when you talk.
You can’t drink, you can barely think, and every color looks pink.
When you lose fifty pounds and don’t understand certain sounds.
When you are weak, and your future looks bleak.
When you can barely lift a pound, and a wheelchair is your only way around.
When you can’t write, and people tear up at your sight.
When you don’t have control, and you feel all alone.
When your passion is taken, and you feel mistaken.
Then you see life in a different way, you thank God for every day.
Your thoughts grow deep, and you are thankful for sleep.
You are thankful for every meal and are grateful to be able to feel.
You think before you speak and wisdom is what you seek.
You try to make people smile and help them through any trial.
You are happy to be alive, and for great things, you strive.
You appreciate the little things in life, and that brings you less strife.
You appreciate your family more, and you don’t mind being a little sore.
Happy you will be, be patient, you will see!
If you let it, life will be great. Just wait! Do your best and God will take care of the rest.

(Life is a poem by Justin Heupel) (Photo by Greg Rakozy )