“There are some secrets I will take to my grave.”
Have you ever said the statement above? I have. It is a sentiment that keeps sickness active and recovery stunted. Step Four helped us form an inventory and delve into the wrongs done to us and done by us to others. What to do with the indiscretions laid bare by the hardscrabble work of the fourth step?
Step Five is clear about taking action.
Words have power. What you speak from your mouth can change the trajectory of your healthy recovery, even change the world around you. Speak light and life over people, and their lives change. Speak darkness and it attracts darkness. Let’s not confuse admitting the exact nature of our wrongs to another human being as speaking darkness. To the contrary, as our searching and fearless moral inventories, they can be cleanly dealt with. It’s hard to see in the dark. But whatever the light touches is seen. And can be grasped to be fully put behind you.
Some items on our inventories might be harder to admit than others. Some may seem impossible to own before God, much less a sponsor or accountability partner. But our wrongs – our sins – stay powerful unless confessed to those we trust. Confessing them deflates them so that we can step over them and move forward.
The exact nature of our wrongs, taking responsibility for those things so shameful we vowed never to admit them on this side of the dirt. You really are only as sick as your secrets.
The problem with taking secrets to your grave is that it requires you to lead a grave-tender’s life to some degree. It forces you to spend your lifetime keeping something destructive underground, making sure it stays covered up. Part of you is always tending to that, protecting it. Digging it back up to make sure it is still there so that you can flog yourself with it’s shame, reburying it twice as deep. It’s a lot of work to keep secrets.
“You don’t know what I’ve done,” you might be saying.
And you’re right, I don’t. But I do know that – in order to live victoriously in recovery – you must not keep it to yourself. All the things you’ve done in active disease and otherwise are covered under the blood of Christ Jesus if you accept Him and His love.
You see, God already knows what you’ve done, and is crazy in love with you anyway. If you are in a 12 Step program, you already know people who are equipped to help you admit the exact nature of your wrongs.
“I’ve done bad things” doesn’t cut it when working Step Five. Share your heart with someone who is trustworthy and then burn or bury your past indiscretions in the place of the secrets that have required you to tend to your grave as you are in the living.
So that you can say “Grave? What grave?”
So that you can get on with this big, juicy life you’ve been given and ask “What’s next, Papa?”
“This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him!” – Romans 8:15-17 (MSG)
Happy Sunday, all!
Today is the final day to enter the Goodreads book contest in which I am giving away two autographed copies of “Edgewise: Plunging off the Brink of Drink and into the Love of God.” You have until midnight to enter.
There is no obligation whatsoever to enter the giveaway.
Just click on the link below and follow the “Enter to Win” tab instructions.
God bless us, everyone. I hope your weekend is safe and happy.
I will continue the 12 Step series tomorrow. Thanks!
You are probably realizing by now that Step Four is not a “quickie” step. At all. Seek through prayer and meditation the most honest inventory you can take. And then camp out there for a while. Step Four cannot be rushed.
Examine your ways honestly and return to the Lord.
He is waiting for you with open arms!
We made a decision to turn our lives and our wills over to the care of God.
Biblical Comparison: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.” – Romans 12:1
Standing at the counter of the DMV among the throng of other vehicle owners at the License Plate Tag Office, I was feeling more than a little stressed out. I’d formed an emotional attachment to the car whose tags I would be turning in today. In turning in the license plates, I was essentially saying, “She’d been a good little car, I’ve had lots of good memories with her. But she isn’t safe anymore. The car was no longer getting the job of getting me where I need to be reliably anymore. It was time to turn in the tags.
How do you know it’s time to turn in your way of living? Is your life unmanageable? Turning can be hard, but a life driven by peace and love under the care of God is so much better than one driven by our own devices.
Step Three assures us that God is worthy to turn to. In much the same way you would turn license plates in to the DMV after a car has stopped working for you, you can turn your life and will over to the care of a loving and redeeming God if it isn’t working.
We often form emotional attachments to things, making “letting go” difficult.
“Well, my situation may suck, but at least it’s familiar to me.”
“How do I know sobriety will ‘stick’ this time? I’ve turned my will over to God Before, and I am using again. (Answer: Put that thing down and don’t pick it up again no matter what happens…and trust Him to help you!)
Turning away from the hurts, habits, and hangups that have put you in this despondent place? Well, they just aren’t worth going back to look for and picking back up.
God is a gentleman. He will allow you to choose what you hang on to, and what you lose. He will not keep you from turning back around and resurrecting the addiction or pain you are trying to overcome. It’s your choice to turn your life over to His care.
If you desire a lifetime driven by peace and love, make the conscious decision to turn your will and life over to the care of God is yours and yours alone. Turn in those tags! The vehicle isn’t keeping you safe; in fact, it is causing you harm.
And don’t look back, my friend.
Musicians The Byrds had a great song, pulled from the book of Ecclesiastics about this very thing:
To Everything Turn Turn Turn
To everything – turn, turn, turn
There is a season – turn, turn, turn
And a time for every purpose under Heaven.
A time to build up, a time to break down
A time to dance, a time to mourn
A time to cast away stones
A time to gather stones together.
A time to turn.
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, you know the innermost parts of our spirits, and you long for us to be free of our hurts, habits, and hangups. We cannot do this alone. We ask humbly for your help to take our character defects, and give us beauty for ashes for each one of our issues. Thank you for always being accessible. We love you. We trust you.
By: Jana Greene
We admitted we were powerless over our addictions and compulsive behaviors, that our lives had become unmanageable. – Celebrate Recovery
Biblical comparison: “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.” – Romans 7:18
I don’t know if you are supposed to play favorites with the Steps, but I am rather fond of Steps One and Twelve – One because it gives you the opportunity to admit “defeat” over a substance or habit, and Twelve because – having become victorious over an issue or addiction in Steps 2-11 – you actively become the person paying your new life forward by giving yourself to others. From “It’s all about me and what I cannot handle” to “It’s all about you and I think I can help!”
In some of my 12th Step work, I have been given opportunities to help others get involved in the programs, and nothing brings me joy quite like seeing someone pick up their “Surrender Chip” at a meeting. Each of the plastic chips designates a different amount of “clean time,” and the “Surrender” chip is the very first one taken as an act of letting go and letting God. I can feel the energy coming off of my friend, the Newcomer, who is here for the first time tonight. Although I’ve seen it 100 times, the it’s all new to her. She is waging a war in her own mind about accepting the “Surrender” chip.
I cannot do this. There are so many people here. What if someone knows me? There is no going back once I stand up.
But I must do it. My way isn’t working. How many times have I tried to get sober on my own? I need to find another way.
If I surrender, I am giving it up. There will be a hole left where my drug of choice took up space…..a lot of space.
But these people seem to know another way. Some of them are even laughing and joking!
It’s all I know, drinking.
But it’s crushing my relationships and killing me from the inside out.
Every day I say NO MORE! But every day I find myself right back in the center of drunkenness and drama.
I think I need to surrender.
Yeah, I know I need to surrender.
And with legs shaking and heart palpitating, she rises from her chair and excuses herself as she walks past the people in her row. They are clapping and cheering, like surrendering her addiction was a GOOD thing.
A gentleman holds out the blue chip to her, and embraces her as she takes it. She didn’t realize that she was crying, but she was – tears streaming down her face. When she turns to walk back to her seat, all attendees are on their feet, applauding. They know how hard it is to surrender an addiction. They, too, are powerless over their addictions and compulsive behaviors, and as their lives became unmanageable, they had mustered the courage to walk up and pick up a “Surrender” chip.
Many folks get caught up on the powerlessness angle of the First Step. How DARE anyone refer to me as powerless? We live in an age in which we are all expected to be super heroes in our lives, figure it all out, and certainly be the conquerors of our own worlds. Being powerful is highly esteemed by society (although society holds equal disdain for the powerful among us, too) because being “in control” is where it’s at, right?
Wrong. The only way for an addict or alcoholic to regain control of his or her life is to surrender. My Highest Power is Jesus Christ. When I surrendered my will to him in regards to getting sober fourteen years ago, it was not an occasion taken lightly. I was giving him my very own will, since my will was only serving to make me sicker and sicker. I tried many times to do it “my way,” with abysmal results. Like Paul wrote in the book of Romans in the Bible, “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.”
Ever tried really hard to do something you knew would result in destruction? I’ve tried thousands of times. Why can I not carry it out?
Because complete Surrender must precede the abstinence from alcohol, the drug. Not partaking in drugs and alcohol is a nifty concept, but it just doesn’t work. Unless you want to live the rest of your life as a “Dry Drunk,” it’s essential. Surrender to God has to stay strategy #1, or my life becomes unmanageable all over again.
Admitting “defeat” over the drugs and drink is the most powerful thing you can do.
And in the not-to-distant future, you will be paying your life and gratitude forward by helping a shaky-legged, tearful Newcomer take that First Step