4th Step

I’m beginning my 4th  step. It will be the third time I’ve done a complete 4th step. I think everybody should do one once every few years.

A lot of people think the 4th step is about revealing your sins. That’s a part of it, but it misses the point.

The 4th Step according to Alcoholics Anonymous is: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

An inventory includes both strengths and weaknesses, virtues and character defects. You look at yourself honestly. In the bible, in Romans 12:3,  it says:

Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.

In some translations it says to judge yourself using ‘sober judgment.’ I think that’s humorous as an alcoholic, but essentially it says to evaluate yourself fairly. Which is what I think a step 4 attempts to do.

I have a relatively new sponsor, and I trust her implicitly. That’s crucial for a good 4th step. Right now I’m in the ‘putting it to paper’ phase. She’s pushing me a long. I’ll admit, I haven’t put a lot of energy into getting it all down on paper. But I’m not dragging my feet because it’s too difficult.

We speak of ‘clearing the wreckage’ in AA. I think everybody has wreckage. Perhaps it’s more obvious in alcoholics. Maybe people like me need it broken down into easy steps. It gives us a place to start when the dust is starting to clear.

When I was active in my addiction, I went through periods of longing to have a confession. There was a lot of crap in me, and I had this feeling it would be a relief to get it out of me. I don’t know if that’s something other people experience, but I have found that sharing myself with someone I trust is not only very healing, but helpful in knowing how to proceed.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Tyndale House Publishers. (2013). Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Ro 12:3). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.

4th Step

Sometimes I Get a Resentment

Yes, it’s true, I get resentments against God. I know I shouldn’t. I know they are misplaced, but when I have discomfort or pain, I can very easily lapse into resenting God for my problems.

Struggling through my boyfriend’s horrible loss of his brother has brought that flame up in my heart from time to time as I’ve walked through this with him. I want to help. I want the pain to go away. I want for it never to have happened. But it happened, and it’s left so many people ravaged with pain. I hate it.

I think in my heart, I have this idea that there is a certain amount of acceptable pain in a person’s life. Every time I get through something or someone I know gets through it, I think ‘that’s it. that’s enough.’ I suppose I think I know better than God.

Pain hurts so much. I hate it. I hate feeling it and I hate witnessing it even worse. So, I do get resentments toward God about it.

I do understand that God is so much bigger than I am, and knows so much more. I’m quite sure what I know isn’t even as big as an atom compared to the universe not even containing the  knowledge of God.  So, in the end it comes down to trust.

It also comes down to gratitude. I could write a book about the things that should have happened to me but didn’t. Praise God for his protection and care!

In AA a favorite thing for a sponsor to tell their sponsee is to write a gratitude list. If I can’t fill a page up with things to be grateful for, there’s something wrong.

I was reading the story of Jonah today. There is a chapter about how Jonah was angry that God spared Nineveh, and he sat on a hill brooding. God caused a plant to grow and give him shade. He was grateful. Then God sent a worm to kill the plant and Jonah was angry. He sounds entitled to me. But then I realized I get annoyed when the ice maker is putting out the cubes too slowly. That’s a real example from this week. I think I sound a little entitled.

So, I am grateful if I have ice cubes at all. I’m grateful to have shoes that don’t have holes in the soles. I’m grateful to have a nice, big  mattress and not have to sleep on a dirt floor. Half the population lives below the poverty line. They have real problems.

I don’t want to minimize the horror of what my boyfriend is going through as well as his family. I’m just trying to grapple with it and have perspective. I’m reaching out to God and asking him to give me some understanding. The answer might not come in this lifetime. I am so grateful; however, that there will be an answer someday.

Sometimes I Get a Resentment

Pitfalls

I’m guilty of falling into every kind of cliche there is. It’s human nature. Most of us do it and we admire the people who manage not to.

What I’m talking about things like ‘money won’t make you happy.’ Everybody has heard that and really honestly nobody believes it. Granted we need to make enough to live, but don’t you secretly long to win the lotttery or discover a distant cousin who leaves you millions?

Over and over it has been shown that people generally don’t do well when they win a lot of money. They spend it frivalously and stupidly, and it is quickly gone.

We get upset about aging. I’m talking about Christians here. We feel like time is running out. I saw a great Beth Moore dvd the other day talking about the fact that time isn’t winding down, it’s going forward forever. We don’t have an expiration date. Yes  there is a day we will pass over, but that’s the beginning of a new life. But we worry about gray hair and wrinkles. We don’t have a kingdom perspective. We’re blessed to live each day. Hopefully having wrinkles and gray hair means we have grand children or great grandchildren.

I fell into the trap of thinking a man would make me happy. When I got married I had no doubts.  I knew we’d be together forever. God’s version of the story went another direction. Now he’s showing me there’s life after all of that. I think at the time it felt like a failure I would never recover from.God showed me different.But the point was the cliche about living happily ever after.

What I’ve learned is that God doesn’t talk to me about being happy either through prayer or His word. He talks about me being obedient and holy. He talks to me about becoming more like Jesus. And remember, Jesus was ‘a man of sorrows.’

It’s not that God wants us to be miserable. He promises joy. But Paul had joy in prison and among all other heaps of abuse. I’m not sure I’d say he was happy exactly.

So when I hear people say ‘I think God wants me to be happy,’ I sigh inwardly. I felt that way at one time. It has taken years of toiling with the Lord to realize that my circumstances are just not always going to be a lot of fun. The blessing is that I get to be with Jesus while I’m toiling. I get to listen to the Holy Spirit and talk to the Father. My countenance might not always be lifted, but I truly believe that in the end, the redemption we experience will be beyond our wildest dreams. We only have to suffer for a little while.

Pitfalls

Guilty of Jealousy

I have a lot of Christian friends….naturally. Many of them inspire me. Most do. But I have a bad habit. I compare.

In AA they say don’t compare someone’s outsides to your insides. I’m guilty of doing that with Christians.

I have a really good friend who has lived her life with the Lord to the best of her ability on the outside. Naturally, she has her own sin issues and areas the Lord is working on with her. I don’t know what those are.

She homeschooled her kids and they are now attending very high quality schools and by all appearances are brilliant. They are obedient, kind and exhibit the qualities I’d love to have cultivated in my children.

On Thursday nights, her family has a bible study together. It never occurred to me to do that. The best I could do was try to have a family devotion after dinner which never went well.

I could give many examples of friends who I am proud of. But I can’t let that get me down. My path is not theirs. I was given an illness and a disease, and I’ve had to muddle through. But that doesn’t mean God doesn’t have a great plan of redemption for me. He’s already redeemed me from so much.

Maybe the trick is to let people inspire me instead of having envy for them. We all have our own story. Most people don’t care too much for their story. But when we are with the Father, we will see how beautiful our story was.

Guilty of Jealousy