“A Christ-centered approach to recovery and coordinating small group meetings”

Step Four 

“Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of our selves.” 

Before this step, most of our efforts were in the thinking process.  This is where we get a chance for some real action in the physical realm.  This step requires writing down the stories of our lives.  We write the good and the bad. 

The actual work of this step may only take several hours, but often the real work is in working up the courage to do it.  That is why it is called a fearless moral inventory.  It takes courage to put into writing the bad and embarrassing areas of our lives. 

There may be a number of obstacles in our minds to keep us from swinging into action on this step.  Some fear having to share the information as is suggested in a future step.  We need to take this step as if no other person is ever going to see what we write.  We need to take one step at a time at this point. 

Maybe we did something illegal or so embarrassing that we are worried that someone will find the writing and know what we did and we will get in trouble.  If necessary, we can write these things down in a code that is only understood by ourselves. 

This step is for our benefit.  It is not a frivolous exercise to give us some busy work to do.  We yield to the Lord and begin to write.  There is a great healing that takes place simply from the garbage flowing from our minds onto a piece of paper. 

As we write, things appear on paper that we didn’t realize were inside us.  The Lord prompts us in this effort and we begin to see behavior patterns for the first time.  Some have realized such immediate help from this step that they said, “It was like poison flowing right out of me onto the sheet of paper.” 

Another fear in writing a moral inventory is looking at things we did in the past that may stir up painful guilt.  Maybe there is a concern that we will stir up painful hurts from what others have done to us.   These things from the past may seem too painful to bear and we would rather just keep them buried.  We can’t stir what is not there.  Time does not heal all wounds.  Jesus does! 

Keeping things buried got us in much of the trouble we got into.  In recovery we learn that the problems of the past continue to deal with us in a negative way until we face up to them.  We need to own up to the truth and resolve the issues.  When we resolve these issues in recovery, we can put them behind us in a way that they won’t hurt or control us any more. 

There is a saying in recovery that, “We are only as sick as our secrets.”   As we get out the things that have been stuffed inside for many years it allows us room to breathe.  We can begin to relax a little bit and face the truth head on.  “The truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32) 

Some people get hung up about where to start for fear that they will get everything out of order and messed up.  If we have this concern, writing the events of our lives on a 3×5 card could be a help.  This way we can rearrange the cards in chronological order if we are worried about having events in sequence.  Another advantage of the card method is that we can carry around some blank ones and write as things come to mind and time permits. 

One suggestion is to write about every significant thing in our lives.  When we write of what went wrong, we can add how it affected us and what we may have done to bring it about.  Just do it!

Go to Step 5