Although the journey of recovery began in Step One, when “We admitted powerlessness over alcohol and that life had become unmanageable”, for many Step Four is where the rubber meets the road. Sadly, many real alcoholics never move beyond Step One. For me, the illusion I could manage life (control life) is a strong force and without forward movement, the necessary desperation recedes and resentment (emotionality) once again regains control. This happened many times before I was ready to face my “self”.
To continue, immediate action is required. In Step Two, I believed in the possibility of a “Power greater than ourselves could return us to sanity”. Tragically, there are many desperately ill people, who are unable to release imagined control (as I had been for years) and move on to the second step of recovery. Yet, when a simple belief in “something” is considered possible and even a partial surrender is made, the sufferer is somehow carried forward.
As I moved on to Step Three, I sensed this unfamiliar Source, carried me forward. I also began to recognize the return of uncomfortable and long-forgotten feelings. With a fragile acceptance of my pain, a portal of grace opened. When I spoke the Third Step prayer aloud, a change within moved me and an experience of newfound hope and a strange momentum propelled me onward.
In the Fourth Step, a solitary self-appraisal of the causes and conditions, which underlie the malady are searched out. As mentioned in previous entries, the Twelve Steps are effective in the recovery from any addiction symptoms, i.e., alcohol, drugs, food, etc. In our ongoing recovery journey, support from an experienced traveler “sponsor” is helpful. Still, even on one’s own, the plan of recovery, located on the first (164) pages of the Big Book, aka the Twelve Steps, are a proven remedy “from a hopeless state of body and mind”. Certainly, a Twelve Step sponsor may share their experience, strength, and hope to ease the passage however the Twelve Steps offer an individual journey with God and can and have been taken with God alone. Entrance into this uncharted territory, takes blind faith and with this faith, one soon finds all things are possible…
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.”
We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves
From Breathing Under Water by Richard Rohr
Rohr on Step Four:
Jesus seems to have preceded modern depth psychology and Step Four by two thousand years. He says, “Why do you observe the splinter in your brother’s eye and never notice the plank in your own? How dare you say to your sister, ‘Let me take the splinter out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a log in your own? Tale the log out of your own eye first, and then you will see clearly enough to take the splinter of you brother’s or sister’s eye” (see Matthew 7:4-5).
Step Four is about seeing your own log first, so you can stop blaming, accusing, and denying, and thus displacing the problem. It is about seeing truthfully and fully. Note that Jesus does not just praise good moral behavior or criticize immoral behavior, as you might expect from a lesser teacher, but instead he talks about something caught in the eye. He knows that if you see rightly, the actions and behavior will eventually take care of themselves.
Jesus also says, “The lamp of the body is the eye. If your eye is sound, your whole body will be filled with light.” (see Matthew 6:22). Step Four is about creating a good and trustworthy lamp inside of us that reveals what is really there, knowing that “anything exposed to the light will itself become light” (see Ephesians 5:13). God brings us-through failure-from unconsciousness to ever deeper consciousness and conscience. Full consciousness always includes the dark side; it somehow allows it, forgives it, and thus makes use of it for good.
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I can not change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.