Addiction Step Four: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
If you have made it through the first three steps and you’re thinking of Addiction Step Four, this is where some of the heavy lifting begins.
Just as it is difficult to admit that we have a problem, that we need help outside of ourselves and that we need to turn our will over, we still have to face ourselves. That isn’t easy.
You might be thinking to yourself that you’re not such a bad person. You never killed anybody, robbed a bank or committed any other criminal act. But if you’ve gotten this far down the addiction path to the point that you’re taking brave new strides to recovery, you have to admit that your way hasn’t been the most productive.
Don’t think of this moral inventory in terms of positive and negative, as much as just determining what’s going on, at least in the beginning. Take a step back, look at yourself the way someone else would look at you. Just the facts, no explanations, excuses or blaming someone else, and you might want to consider jotting this down on a piece of paper.
This step is not designed to shame you into anything, or lay a guilt trip on you. Instead, you need to know what you are dealing with and how to face the problem head on. If it’s sugar-coated, or even avoided, how does a problem get solved?
God already knows!
In the Old Testament, the prophet Jeremiah had an understanding of his own nature and facing his own situation. He writes in his prophesy, Chapter 17 and verses 9 and 10: “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? ‘I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve.’”
This is included because it illustrates a couple of important points—one that we are not necessarily honest about ourselves and two, that God already knows!
Imagine yourself as a child and you’ve broken a window. There’s dad waiting to deal with the situation. If you scurry through the back door, run up and stairs and hide under the bed, maybe the whole incident will blow away. The first part of the plan works marvelously, as there is no detection of your scurrying, and you’ve successfully made it to the warmth and security of that little crawl space under your bed. You wait and hope.
Maybe divine intervention will bless you and the window will magically be fixed. Maybe you can convince dad that the neighbor kid did it. Maybe nobody saw you do it and how can you be blamed if there are no eye witnesses? No, dad knew what happened. He patiently waits for you to slither back out from under your bed and come clean. Nobody needs to tell him. He just wants to hear it from you. Before that can happen however, you have to deal with yourself.
Keeping track of your inventory is a key part of addiction step four
Yet another way of looking at this is my experience in business. I had a friend who owned an auto racing speed shop. It started in his garage, and soon became this massive 10,000 square foot facility, which shipped parts and equipment all over the country. My friend used to race cars himself, but most importantly knew everybody in the business. I asked him what the most important component to his business was and he readily replied, “I stock what guys need.” He kept careful track of his inventory and always had the stuff that guys needed on his shelves. At any given point during the business day, he knew what he had and what he needed to order from the manufacturers. I later would create his product catalog, and so I got a first-hand look at his inventory process. Wow. Other guys had tried their own speed shop, but had failed. I suspect they failed mostly because they didn’t have a handle in inventory.
A moral inventory
A moral inventory is much the same thing. In this case, the stock is our own personal history. What is on the shelf of your life? What inventory do I need to toss and what inventory do I need to hold on to for future use? It’s an excellent way to access your needs and the first step towards meeting those needs.