Summary: Step four focuses on our taking an moral inventory of ourselves.
Twelve Steps To Recovery Part 4
To date in this series we have discussed the first three steps in the twelve step process. We began by admitting that we were powerless over our dependencies and that there was a God greater than ourselves who could restore us to sanity. After reaching that point, in step three we made the decision to turn our lives over to the care of God. This was a conscious choice and made freely. Having made the first three steps, we are ready to move on to step four. In step four we make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. If you have not picked up on this yet, this whole process is one where each person must deal with themselves. Your restoration cannot rest on how anyone else completes the steps, it rests on you. Step four takes it up a notch because having decided to turn our life over to God; we are ready to pull back the layers to expose the filth that lies underneath. In step four, we dig deep to uncover what is within us that has such a strong hold on our lives. To accomplish this, we must do it without the fear of what will be uncovered – whatever we find is what we must deal with.
I. Soul Searching – The Family Influence
As we begin our soul searching we cannot over look the impact that our family has had on us. Our family origin has had an influence on who we are today. Some of us would rather pretend that our family was, or is, perfect while others of us may tend to avoid the responsibility for our actions by blaming our actions on our family. Whatever the case, when we think about our own life, we also need to deal with our family and the effects its members have had on who we are today. Let me give you an example. Several years ago I watch the movie “The Nutty Professor” starring Eddie Murphy. If you have seen the movie, I want you to think about the Klump family. Everyone in that family was overweight, even the grandmother. Being overweight in that family was considered healthy yet Sherman (the “nutty professor” played by Eddie Murphy) was trying to find a cure for being overweight. There was one scene in the movie where they were all sitting around the dinner table. In this scene there was this overweight kid whose mother referred to his fatness as muscles. The kid made a muscle to which his mother smiled and clapped her hands while screaming “Hercules, Hercules, Hercules!” This kid thought his being fat was normal since everyone in the family was fat. If this was a “real” family, this kid would probably spend his whole life grossly overweight because of being addicted to food and overeating. His family would wholeheartedly support his addiction because they caused it and suffered from the same addiction. Are you starting to see the impact that family has on our addictions?
In the book of Nehemiah there is a wonderful story of the children of Israel doing a deep soul searching of their lives. In Nehemiah chapter nine, when the Jewish nation returned from exile, they confessed their sins. But here is the kicker, as you read the chapter; they confessed not only their sins, but the sins of their ancestors who were already dead. You see, they blamed their ancestors (rightfully so) for their captivity and the difficult situation they were facing. In this chapter, they recant all of the things God did for their ancestors when He brought them up out of Egypt, fulfilling every promise that He had made to them. They also confessed that at every opportunity, those same ancestors chose to turn their backs on God and sin. Look at Nehemiah 9:34-38.
“For our kings, our leaders, our priests and our fathers have not kept Thy law. Or paid attention to Thy commandments and Thine admonitions with which Thou hast admonished them. But they, in their own kingdom, with thy great goodness which thou didst give them, with the broad and rich land which Thou didst set before them, did not serve Thee or turn from their evil deeds. Behold, we are slaves today, and as to the land which Thou didst give to our fathers to eat of its fruit and its bounty, behold we are slaves on it. And its abundant produce is for the kings whom Thou hast set over us because of our sins; they also rule over our bodies and over our cattle as they please, so we are in great distress. Now because of all this we are making an agreement in writing; and on the sealed document are the names of our leaders, our Levites and our priests.”