Still working on my inventory

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So this morning, with two more days left on Step 5, I figured I’d better do my moral inventory (Step 4, and procrastination is definitely on my list of character flaws) before I can share it with someone (Step 5). It flowed pretty easily only because I’d been thinking a lot about what I would put down. I did discover that once I got started, a number of other things I hadn’t thought about came to mind. As we’ve said before, and as veteran AA people have confirmed, this will be a running list. We’ll be continually adding to it, and perhaps we’ll be able to take some things off in time, although it might be good to keep them there since we are often prone to relapse.

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Dear Catch Community,

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Today’s Catch is more of a letter than a Catch. We have a little family business to take care of. So far almost all of our feedback on this 12-Step series has been from people who have been in AA for some time, and have already had the 12 Steps affect them in a major way. We are hearing some wonderful life-changing stories, not just in terms of power over addiction, but in terms of coming to a deeper knowledge and relationship with God through the 12-Step experience.

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Don’t wait until Monday

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

5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

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Have you taken your moral inventory yet? I have things rolling around in my head that I intend to write down whenever I do this, but I’m avoiding the actual thing. I think having them in my head is worse than writing them down. Writing them down is the first step in facing them. You can identify them. You might even find you have fewer things on your list than you thought. In your head they seem to float around and take up much more space.

Why is this step so hard? Why do we not want to face ourselves? What do we think we will find that will be so difficult to look at? Are we afraid we won’t be able to do anything about what we find? Or do we not want to uncover our rationalizations, justifications and denials because then we will have to do something about what they hide?

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Stepping in the ring

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

5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

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I’m listing two steps this week because I, for one, am not ready to move on to Step 5, and I do not think that I am alone. Besides, Step 4 looks like it could take a lot more time than Step 5. Step 5 seems to be what you do with the information you get from Step 4 once you get it.

Come on, now, I know a lot of you are looking on curiously, wondering where this is all going to lead. You’re interested enough to keep reading, but not interested enough to actually take part. This will obviously take an emotional and spiritual commitment that some of you may simply not be willing to make right now.

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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.

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Addicted to isolation

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

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“Hi, my name is John, and I’m not an alcoholic, but it’s very complicated. In some ways, I kind of wish I was, because then I would be among friends. But that’s not quite true either, because if I were among friends, I wouldn’t know what to do. I do not like fitting in. I’ve always avoided it. I think it’s because I think of myself as above or beyond most groups. So every group I’m near, I find some way to not really be a part of it. I’ve tried to figure out where this comes from, and the best I can do is surmise it has to do with being told I was special as a child, and God had set me apart for a reason. Of course I believed it in ways that set me over others and made for different (more lenient) rules for me than for them.

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Living in the light

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

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Search me, O God, and know my heart;

    test me and know my anxious thoughts.

Point out anything in me that offends you,

    and lead me along the path of everlasting life. (Psalm 139:23-24)

 

Let us test and examine our ways.

    Let us turn back to the Lord. (Lamentations 3:40)

 

You should examine yourself before eating the bread and drinking the cup. (1 Corinthians 11:28)

Seeing the scriptures printed above, is there any question as to whether this moral inventory step is something that is important to God? Like all the steps, however they are worded, this one is biblically sound. Self-examination is mentioned at least by David and Jeremiah in the Old Testament, and Paul in the New.  And it is important to include a warning here. As Jens Christy, Recovery Pastor at Capo Beach Church and guest on our BlogTalkRadio show last night taught us, we probably know less about ourselves than anybody. Why is that? Because we have a tendency to bury our sins, addictions and poor choices deeply underneath shovels full of denial, blame, rationalizations and justifications. We see other’s sins before we see our own. That’s why Jesus told us not to judge, because we will most likely be judging what we are guilty of.

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‘Hi John!’

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

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This is a difficult step but there are a number of things that will make it a lot easier. One of those I want to talk about today is one of those things that makes the AA environment for change more suitable than your typical church environment. In AA, this kind of moral assessment is going on all the time. You’re not the odd man out when you come up with damaging realities on your moral inventory list. No one’s going to go, “You did what? Well at least I haven’t dropped that far!” No, it’s quite the opposite. More like, “That’s nothing. Wait until you hear what I did.” It’s an exercise in “one-downmanship” instead of one-upmanship.

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