Step 4

Every man carries a wound. I have never met a man without one. No matter how good your life may have seemed to you, you live in a broken world full of broken people. Your mother and father, no matter how wonderful, couldn’t have been perfect. She is a daughter of Eve, and he is a son of Adam. So there is no crossing through this country without taking a wound. And every wound, whether it’s assaultive or passive, delivers with it a message. The message feels final and true, absolutely true, because it is delivered with such force. Our reaction to it shapes our personality in very significant ways. From that flows the false self. Most of the men you meet are living out a false self, a pose, which is directly related to his wound.” John Eldredge, Wild At Heart

I have made a promise not to reveal things that are said in our twelve-step addictions program. I will keep that promise. However, I want to tell you that tonight we talked about Step 4: Take Inventory. The first three steps relate to the beginning stages of making a decision. Step 4 moves one into a new field, one of searching yourself. In this stage we become acutely aware of the struggles we have faced in life, the painful events that drive us to addictive behavior. We take inventory of the things we like … and do not like … about ourselves. This is done with a view to breaking through old habits by revealing the source from which they came. If Eldredge is right, we are all carrying about wounds that have altered the way we would have liked to have lived.

The goal of Step 4 is not simply to make a list of things about ourselves we do not like, but it is to face the truth. In facing the truth we have opportunity to confess it to God and receive forgiveness. When I first started to prepare for this class I had an idea that it would be interesting. Really, I never expected it to be so powerful. God had a surprise for me. And ultimately I think it’s a good one, though it requires a walk through the dark valley of guilt and confession.

The twelve steps are a powerful tool in fighting addiction, but they also present a pathway that would be good for every Christian to follow. Romans 8 tells us that the creation is groaning and waiting, and so are we … waiting for something else. While we are waiting, our “…enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” Jesus said to Simon, “Satan has asked to sift you as wheat.” I can’t help but believe that many of my brothers and sisters have been sifted … devoured … left for dead … smiling in front of wounded interiors. But what to do? Walk around with eternally sour faces so as to give testimony to our wounds? No. Work through them with God’s help, accept his grace and forgiveness, and never look back. Don’t forget, though, that there is an enemy. He is real. He knows how to do his work. We would be best prepared if we are self-aware. Step 4: Take Inventory. Telling ourselves the truth may be the most difficult task of all.


Jason writes about his trip to Pascagoula.

John Alan Turner Ponders Adult Sunday School. If the horse is dead, may we dismount?

Seth discusses dependency.

The Gifts of Addiction.

The Twelve Rewards of Sobriety.

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