Spiritual Draino

Apprehensive, yet ready, I looked at the past in a new way.  As I arrived at Step Five, I was ready to leave behind that within me which has kept me from the Sunlight of the Spirit. To humble myself was not easy, especially for the "real alcoholic", who know little of healthy introspection. It was unimaginable to tell another our whole life story, when I began this life-changing process. Still, without a solitary self-appraisal, I was doomed. I learned without a Power greater than ourselves, this self-revealing process might never happen. If I had attempted to go it alone, it would be unlikely I would arrive at Step Five. Why, because without faith in a Power greater than myself, Step Four would never reach completion, left to my own devices, an honest and thorough Step Four inventory would be impossible.

Early on in my Twelve Step journey, I suspected my alcoholism was more than drinking alcohol. In the first 164 pages of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, and through attendance at Big Book Step Study meetings, I understood my unresolved inner conflict as the real issue of my alcoholism. Clearly, this maladjustment to life made it difficult to recognize and accept my responsibility yet a new found willingness somehow carried me along.  As stated in the Big Book, several life-long conceptions needed to be thrown out to recover from alcoholism. If I were to live and be free, something in me had to change.

My sponsor presented the twelve step directions straight from the Big Book.  She told me to list the people, institutions, and principles with which I was angry. In this inventory, it was soon clear that fear/anger (emotionalism) fueled my resentment.  Next, she spoke of the "turn-a-round" process.  Now I was to ask myself, where had I been selfish, dishonest, self-seeking, and fearful?  This was counterintuitive to my nature. Still, with the support of my sponsor and spiritual perseverance, I recognized my problem was willfulness; the mistaken idea life and its people were wrong. I saw fear, sadness, and anger ruled my life. In this belief, I convinced myself it's best "not to care" about anything, including God. This belief was a set-up for disaster, not only for myself but for those around me.

In the fifth step, I understood how a willingness to believe in God made a difference. Through this heart healing experience, I asked the Creator to release me from resentment, I listened to those who had walked the path before me, and I received the gift of inward grace. And as they say, "the work has just begun..."

Please note, Inward Grace maintains a clear distinction between spirituality and religion.  The Inward Grace disclaimer:

"The word 'spiritual' does not refer to religious matters.  All activity which drives the human being forward towards some form of development-physical, emotional, mental, intuitional, social--if it is in advance of her/his present state, is essentially spiritual in nature and is indicative of the livingness of an inner divine entity."

Step Five

We admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs

From Breathing Under Water by Richard Rohr:

As any good therapist will tell you, you cannot heal what you do not acknowledge, and what you do not consciously acknowledge will remain in control of you from within, festering and destroying you and those around you.

Step Five fits the biblical notion of "restorative justice" -- to restore relationships themselves, to restore integrity with oneself, and to restore a sense of communion with God.  Humanity needs such an honest exposure of the truth, and true accountability and responsibility for what has happened.  Only then can human beings move ahead with dignity.

Only mutual apology, healing, and forgiveness offer a sustainable future for humanity.  Otherwise, we are controlled by the past, individually and corporately.  We all need to apologize, and we all need to forgive or this human project will surely self-destruct.  No wonder that almost two-thirds of Jesus teaching is directly or indirectly about forgiveness.  Otherwise, history winds down into the taking of sides, deep bitterness, and remembered hurts, plus the violence that inevitably follows.  As others have said, "forgiveness is to let go of our hope for a different past."  It is what it is, and such acceptance leads to great freedom, as long as there is accountability and healing in the process.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference