Putting off that moral inventory

Step 4: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.


IMG_0913So how is your moral inventory going? Mine isn’t going very well primarily because I haven’t started it. Oh, I’ve started it in my head so many times, I’m telling myself I don’t need to do it because I already know what my flaws are. Something tells me, however, that this step is not going to work in my head. I need to get this down on paper or in a document on my computer. My head is completely unreliable to record my moral inventory especially when I spend most of the time explaining away my flaws to myself. Plus, one of my flaws is that I’m a procrastinator, so that one is kicking in right now.

I’m deciding that I’m going to complete my inventory over the weekend. I’m planning on sharing some of it with you, but not all of it. I have a feeling the sharing part will come with later steps. I’m also thinking that this work will be done over time. I’m not going to sit down and pop off my fearless moral inventory in a few minutes. It’s going to take coming back to again and again as I run into things I neglected to put down, sometimes conveniently.

This inventory is accurately called “searching” and “fearless.” “Searching” because it’s going to take a while to search and uncover what is so well buried, and “fearless” because it is going to take courage to be totally honest with myself.

We will never cease to learn from the Twelve Steps because we will never cease to run from ourselves. For this reason, Step Four is critical. It’s where we stop running and face ourselves. As Jens Christy, our BlogTalkRadio guest this week (see below for link) said, “We know less about ourselves than anybody does.” And since others may know more about us that we do, we should ask each other for help on this one. Let other people who know you be a part of this moral inventory. Others can see what we may be refusing to see. Just don’t defend yourself when they tell you.

Look for humility. One of the end results of this, if we’ve done it right, should be humility. But humility is a true sign of ongoing recovery. As Jens Christy says, “Show me someone who has lost his humility and I’ll show you someone who is going to relapse in about 30 days.”

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13 Responses to Putting off that moral inventory

  1. peter leenheer says:

    My moral inventory wasn’t even on my radar screen. Then I attended a Holy Spirit encounter weekend at my church. At one point we were asked to pray for something that had severely wounded our souls. Because I couldn’t think of something immediately, God was consulted in prayer. If anyone knows what I need he does.

    My whole life has been filled with insecurity, anxiety, over thinking, looking at endless options and no decision, low self esteem etc. This has colored my relationship and my characer, yet I had falsely concluded that it was not a major issue. So my mind was blank until in the circle of five that we were offering these problems to God, it was my turn.

    My mother, while pregnant with me was in a bombing raid in Rotterdam, Holland in ww II. A bomb fell and exploded not 30 feet away. Miraculously my Mom and Dad were saved, although they were hit but not injured by flying glass.
    After I was born, people stopped asking about me, because it looked like I would not live. Out of kindness of perhaps further agitating an already grieving mother. My mom had to stand in a food line in order to get one half loaf of white bread from the Red Cross as a food ration for the week. She left me at home sometimes, because she couldn’t stand my constant crying. Two single ladies took pity on my Mom and gave her their food stamps. As a result my health improved. At the end of the war I was in better health than most neighborhood and related children my age.
    Then the communicable diseases started. By age 6 I had experienced, chicken pox, mumps, german measles, red measles and whooping cough plus whatever flu bug was flying around.
    Imagine the worry, and anxiety my mom experienced. Today we might call it post traumatic stress disorder. While she and my Dad prayed to God to alleviate their troubles, there seemed to be no end to them.
    That anxiety was transferred to me. So at prayer request time I asked that all those insecurities be removed. They were. God says you can experience the peace that passes all understanding….well for a day and a half I was aglow with that. That was two weeks ago. What a healing. Praise God!!!

  2. lindastapleton7 says:

    I haven’t started a new inventory this time around but have done a fair number over the years, and try to work on self-examination on an ongoing basis. I think it is so hard because we all like to think well of ourselves. Even if we have low self-esteem and tend to judge ourselves, there is still a part of us that cannot bear to face up to what we are really like. We all have those dark corners that we are ashamed of and would prefer others not to know about. Of course, as John says, they probably already know much more about us than we care to imagine, but we hang on to this fantasy.

    I have found the breakthrough and freedom comes in realizing that God still loves us and forgives us and that the person we finally choose to share this inventory with will no doubt do the same. When I have heard other people’s inventories I have been overwhelmed with love and respect for them and for their courage in going through the process. It is hard to admit to ourselves, God and another human being the exact nature of our wrongs, which comes next, but oh so worth it.

    May God bless everyone on this journey.

  3. Gary says:

    Ok I hope this doesn’t sound judgmental. It might be prudent to be careful with being totally honest with some situations. At least with another human being. I guess I’m saying someone might get hurt by the truth. You might wait till your on your death bed. But that would be selfish. That person would go on living with being hurt as long as they live. Not good. That hurt will be forgiven by the Lord, if you ask. Sparing someone that hurt is the right thing to do, or am I missing something? I have really been help with how you are approaching this subject. Causing me to open the Trash Bag and start digging, with a more robust effort to throw out ALL of the stuff that guilt is fertilize with. This has nothing to do with, as you said ” I won’t share everything with you” or us. This is a personal inventory. Your light sure helps me see what’s in the shadows. Thank You !!

    • lindastapleton7 says:

      No, that doesn’t sound judgmental at all and a valid concern. That’s where this programme is so awesome and God inspired. Down the road, Step 8 says:
      “Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.”
      I agree with your concern, but Step 9 then says:
      “Made direct amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.”

      Everything is in a set order and is progressive and you will have been talking with a trusted friend or helper, and hopefully praying, to guide you as to if and when you should contact these people. In practice, I have found it truly miraculous how God has guided me and presented opportunities at just the right moment, and closed doors if it would not be helpful. The other human being who you share your Step 4 with is usually not someone who has been someone you may have harmed in the past, so they are neutral about what you disclose to the. However, I am guilty of jumping ahead, which may not be helpful but I find this programme so amazing in how it works and fits together perfectly.

  4. Jesus Aguilar says:

    Today I like to share my A A anniversary
    Time to be still
    and be with God,
    my innermost being
    it’s temple,
    its word was written
    in my heart
    while in my mother’s womb
    and now I am following word
    by word with diligence and awe!
    New horizons, awesome sun-rises
    and peaceful sunsets
    all and all a new vision
    trudging the road less traveled
    following the steps of St. Francis
    and facing scorns
    that no longer touch me
    for God is my protector and he
    does the fighting for me
    the rivers of tears are no longer
    of self-pity or remorse
    they are tears of mourning
    all of my sins that have died
    in the midst of my awakening
    today I am a new man
    born again in the Spirit
    and under his guide and direction
    my choice is to carry this message
    of sobriety is for all of the people
    that want to break away from the
    chains of addiction
    God made this happen and we are
    the messengers
    today is a day of redemption
    and I come to you with an invitation
    to live a life free of addiction.

    Now that you know that God has grace me with 28 years of sobriety and the opportunity to take others thru the twelve steps.
    The four steps is a “MORAL” inventory, we go over the list in the Big Book and we put the names on the first list, as many as we can remember. This is very important, we are doing this by “MEMORY” when finished with the first column we go to the next, your sponsor will guide you step by step. By the way, we chose our sponsor at the beginning, before we take the steps and we make him our confidant, our brother, we become accountable to him/her if you are a female. Your sponsor is the only other human being that is going to know, we make this agreement at the beginning. I have been taken people thru the steps for 28 years and with God’s help, never have I revealed any thing I have heard. We find ourselves in a position of trust and understanding, what we thought we are never going to reveal this secret, becomes imperative to be reveal. Once we do it is such a relief, we cry, we laugh, we sing. Freeeedoooom!! I have cried rivers with another brother and then there is a peace that surpasses all understanding. We just walk from the dark to the light. Step four reveals our most glaring character defects – (sins) – We are the prodigal son that comes back to his father. We come back to our Father, the Creator of all and thru to sacrifice on the cross of his only Son we are forgiving for all our sins. A new man is born and the old is dead.
    Praise be to God.
    Be wise in choosing your sponsor
    Be hard on yourself
    Be aware that the truth sets you free, but before is going to hurt and if it hurts, my recommendation is to hurt, cry because of the hurt, until you run out of tears, your sponsor should be crying with you if is the right sponsor, but never, ever run. stand. Today we stand in the light of the Creator of all our Loving Father, the Holy Spirit and his Son. Be strong, because you are.

  5. Jesus Aguilar says:

    Thank you Linda.
    If any body have any question about what we need to take step four, here is one of many answers but this one defines us:
    We have a problem and the root is only one: — ego — says we are separate from God. Are you with me? Step four deflates ego. We uncover, discover, and discard all the many ways that ego made us act so we can remain separate from God. The moment we uncover all the little and big tricks ego starts to deflate and by God’s mercy we find our way home, back to the Father, then thru the next steps we will experience our unity with God. Ge hold of your seat because if you stay with the program we are going for a magnificent ride.

  6. Sandie says:

    We are like the story about the emperor who had no clothes. He deceived himself that he was royally dressed…while the rest of the world saw him as he truly was…naked and pitiful. Until we realize our how pitiful we are in our sin and denial, we cannot experience the cleansing and grace that come with God’s forgiveness and restoration.Thank God for his never-ending patience and love! And thank God for all of you sharing your stories…what courage that only exists in His Grace!

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