So far in our thoughts on the Twelve Steps, we have mostly been involved in introspection…looking inside. But now it is time to bring another human being into the process. The Twelve Steps provide challenges that can intimidate the addicted, but step 5 can make you break out into a cold sweat.
On our journey toward healing, we have learned to admit our weakness, turn to God, and write our failures and struggles on paper. The self-awareness that this brings is very powerful. But there is something that is more powerful: our secrets. Our secrets have a strong grip on our hearts. Our secrets cause us to act in defensive ways. Our secrets can motivate us to cover our tracks. Secrets have the power to make us hold back when we would like to stretch out. Secrets have amazing life-altering power. The only way to dismantle the power structure they have in our lives is to reveal them. It is time to be found.
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. James 5:16
Confession is not a practice for most of us. Our confessions are often glossed-over or even generic in nature. And this time of confession is not meant to answer for everything we’ve ever done. It is meant to expose to the light the areas of darkness in our life.
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. Ephesians 5:8-13
Darkness needs to be exposed for the sake of gentle healing from one heart to another. “Telling our story to another person can be a frightening experience. Many of us have spent a major portion of our lives building defenses to keep others out. Living in isolation has been a way of protecting ourselves from further hurt. Step Five is our pathway out…” (The Twelve Steps for Christians, RPI Publishing, p. 92)
There are obvious dangers here. The biggest danger is trusting someone who is not trustworthy. If that happens we may find our secrets not very secret any more. This could not only hurt ourselves, but others who are also impacted. We fear that our confession may even mean the loss of a friend.
A few guidelines.
- Find someone that you trust fully.
- It is best if it is someone who has been through this same struggle and overcome.
- It is best if it is someone who is of the same sex.
- Find someone who is a good listener.
- Schedule some time away from cell phones, children, other appointments and other distractions.
- Remember you are not looking for solutions and answers. You are not soliciting advice.
Don Humphries writes, “Another advantage of this one-on-one Fifth Step relationship is that the confessor can receive feedback if he or she is less than totally honest in the confession” (12 Steps To A Closer Walk With God, p. 68). Addiction really is all about lying to ourselves. Having an honest and bold person to hold us accountable is a blessing.
When we are ‘found’, then we will be free from the secret. Without it’s powerful grip on our lives, we are able to move on a little further towards recovery.
Reflections on the Twelve Steps are previously found in the following posts: