April 2: Step Four

Topic for the week: Step 4

We are all invited to share on Step 4. The steps are our blueprint for living sober lives.

*** Step 4 ***
“Made a searching and fearless inventory of ourselves.”

This step is listed in Chapter 5, How it Works, from the book, “Alcoholics Anonymous” (affectionately known as the Big Book) (see p. 59). There’s a lot more in Chapter 5, starting on p. 64. And there’s even more about it in the book, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions.

I’m currently on my second time through the Steps, and I’m finding it much less intimidating than the first time around. Before I got sober, I wouldn’t let my brain go to scary places to do scary things like inventorying my flaws and weaknesses, my resentments and anger. That’s what drinking was for! When I did Step 4 the first time, I was afraid – a fairly permanent state of being for me then – that I’d (a.) forget something and it had to be perfect (of course) or I’d flunk, and (b.) I’d shock the sh*t out of my sponsor and she’d run for the hills screaming. Neither of these things happened. My list wasn’t perfect, (of course,) and I had to fill in some gaps as I reviewed my inventory with my sponsor, including one of the most heinous of my crimes against humanity which I guess my mind suppressed subconsciously at first. And my sponsor didn’t run for the hills, screaming or otherwise! Instead she graciously shared much of her Step Four with me. I was the one who was shocked, because of our many shared or similar experiences. It reinforced for me that I’d found my people, my tribe, the ones who “get” me. Finally, I belong.

This second time through the Steps, I have far fewer qualms about seeking out my flaws, weaknesses, resentments, and anger. Instead of my brain bouncing off these uglies, I’m able to engage and think through them to find understanding and, more importantly, the antidote to the poison they can brew, turning them over to my HP to do with what He will, and making appropriate amends. It’s a cleansing, and ultimately a refreshing, process that will last a lifetime. A prayer that I’ve been saying daily lately asks my HP to illuminate the darkness within me and around me. Where before I preferred to keep the lights off and just fly blind, now I choose to invite the light to see the tangle of cobwebs and the sticky corners so that we, my HP and I, can get to work scrubbing and cleaning, chasing the eternal sunshine of the spotless mind, and heart and soul, too. Through the filter of the HP of my understanding and some kind of amazing AA alchemy, those dark places and ugly cancers within me are spun into gold to be shared with other folks. It magically multiplies when I give it away!

What was your greatest fear about Step 4? What has been your greatest satisfaction as a result of it? Please share your experience, strength, and hope around Step 4.

Thank you for the privilege of chairing this meeting.

*** Where to get the books, Alcoholics Anonymous and Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions ***

You can find these books at many f2f AA meetings; you can order them online from many places. And they are available from the AA General Service office, to read online, in English, French, and Spanish. See www.aa.org/