Step Seven: We humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.
Step Seven is critical to the cleansing process and prepares us for the next stages of recovery. In the first six steps we became aware of our problems, looked at ourselves honestly, revealed hidden parts of ourselves, and became ready to change.
Step Seven is the opportunity for God to remove the hidden areas that need changing.If you’re anything like me, your list is long and painful to reflect on. That pain may bring us to our knees, but what better place to begin with the Lord than in prayer.
If we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong. ~ 1 John 1:9
Don’t hold anything back. It’s only in surrendering everything to God that we will find healing and freedom. With our inventory list in hand, we prayerfully give each item to God. This is the painful beginning we must experience to reach the peace and joy we seek.
The list of shortcomings may cause us to dwell on our self. Meditating on Christ’s presence in our life helps change our state of mind. Soon we begin to care more for others and put our self in proper perspective. As we accept who we are today we find joy in becoming the person God wants us to be in the future.
To humble ourselves we must see ourselves as God see us. This can be difficult when our entire life has been spent seeing our self as a worthless piece of dirt. By reading and meditating on God’s word regularly we will find the value God sees in us and His plan for our life.
It takes faith and courage to ask God to remove our shortcomings. We must trust that God hears us when we pray and believe He wants to answer us. We may not feel or sense an immediate change, but in thankful expectancy we go forward confessing that God has heard our request and has begun the change in us. In time change will manifest itself visibly.
Empty of self, surrendering to God’s will and serving others; we fulfill His plan for our life.
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. — Psalm 51:10-12
Step 6:We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
Having completed Steps One through Five, we may be tempted to stop here. But some of the most important work is yet unfinished. In Steps One and Two, we recognized our powerlessness and came to believe in a power greater than ourselves. In Step Three, we turned our will and our life over to God. In Steps Four and Five we faced the truth about ourselves and then admitted that truth to God, ourselves and to another person.
We are now aware of our faults and realize the need for their removal.God can’t change us until we’re willing and so far we haven’t asked Him to change us. In working Step Six we become ready to have God bring about the needed changes in our lives. This step isn’t an action step but rather spiritual and emotional work, preparing us to release our weaknesses to God.
These needed changes require cooperative effort.God plants the desire and provides direction. We bring a willing heart ready for the action required. We mustn’t try this alone but instead let go and let God. He is the only one who can change us.
As we work the program one day at a time, our willingness to surrender will increase. We may be fearful of giving up our trusted coping skills; faulty or not, they got us through many painful times in our life. We must trust God to reshape us; He won’t remove any character traits we need.
God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him. ~ Phil 2:13
Take a moment. Close your eyes and put yourself in God’s hands.
Trust the Master Craftsman, He only wants the best for you.
Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
This step is probably one of the most challenging. It’s one thing to take our moral inventory in Step 4, but it’s quite another to admit our wrongs to another person. While living an addictive lifestyle, we’ve gotten very good at keeping secrets, hiding our shame in lies and denial. Now it’s time to come clean with God, ourselves and another human being.
Here are some tips to help with each area of Step 5…
Admitting wrongs to God: It’s easy to justify not really working this part because after all, doesn’t God know everything I did already? Yes, that’s true. But not the point. We need to sit down and have a personal conversation with God, using our listed inventory from Step 4 if necessary. But more importantly, be open and honest about the things we did, that caused harm to ourselves and others, directly to God. It will probably be emotional, but that’s part of the healing.
Admitting wrongs to ourselves: OK, didn’t I do this when I wrote out my inventory? Yes, and no. Most likely your inventory was taken in silence, with pencil and paper. This work needs to be audible. Sit down in front of a mirror, looking at yourself, going through the inventory list, honestly admit to yourself the wrongs done. If you’re anything like me, dealing with myself in the mirror is always painful. But often pain comes before healing.
Admitting wrongs to another human being: The first two parts of Step 5 were rough, but this one is the clincher. Start first by carefully choosing a trustworthy person who won’t use your past against you. Find someone dependable, who will provide unconditional acceptance and not be shock or offended by what your reveal. When you’re comfortable with the person, sharing will be that much easier. Refrain from unnecessary detailed explanations.
Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.~ James 5:16
You make be tempted to procrastinate on this painful step. Don’t. The sooner you get Step 5 behind you, the faster you’ll be on the road to full and complete healing. Don’t hesitate to email me if you have questions.
Also, here are some excellent resources:
Life Recovery Bible The Twelve Steps for Christians Recovery: The Twelve Steps as Spiritual Practice The Solid Rock Road
Step 4: We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
The first time I worked this step was in therapy almost eight years ago. It was shocking to see all my addictions, compulsions and perversions written down on paper. Because much of my life had been lived in a daze of fantasy and denial; it was like reading about someone else.
In Steps One, Two and Three, with the help of the Virtues: Honesty, Hope and Faith, we have submitted to God’s authority over our lives and have converted our doubt and fear into peace with God. In Step 4 we beginning the growth steps, by examining our past behavior we will work towards understanding and eventually finding peace with ourselves.
It’s critical when taking our inventory that we look at our strengths as well as our weaknesses. Often when reflecting on ourselves we focus on the bad things and beat ourselves down with guilt and condemnation. But when we include our strengths in the evaluation we can see the potential for greatness God has put in us which accelerates us forward on our recovery journey.
In the traditional AA Step Four, we take only a moral inventory: weaknesses, wrongs, character defects, faults and shortcomings. In the Christ-centered Celebrate Recovery, Step Four includes also a Spiritual Inventory. Let me clarify with text from the Celebrate Recovery Bible:
THE PERSON: List persons or things we resent. (Fear and anger are clues.)
THE CAUSE: List specific actions someone took that hurt us. (Why we resent them?)
THE EFFECT: List how the specific hurtful action effected us.
THE DAMAGE: List how that specific hurtful action still effects us.
MY PART: Honestly determine any resentments, sins, or injury we’re responsible for.
OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH OTHERS: Who hurt us? Are we still holding a grudge? Seeking revenge? Jealous? Bad attitude? Who have I hurt?
OUR PRIORITIES IN LIFE: Is there an area of life we’re keeping from God? What have been our life priorities? What was wrong with those priorities? Who did those priorities affect and how?
OUR BODY:How have we mistreated our body? Are there activities / habits that caused physical harm?
OUR FAMILY: Have we mistreated anyone in our family? Do we owe them amends? What family secret are we denying?
OUR CHURCH: Have we been faithful to our church in the past? Have w been critical instead of active and supportive? Have we discouraged our family’s support of their church?
Step Four begins the process of coming clean. With pen and paper in hand, prayerfully ask God to reveal His truth about you to you. Remember, God does not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind. (2Tim. 1:7) With strength given by the Holy Spirit we can push through the denial, past resentments and the fear of acknowledging who and what we have been, to become free and whole in Jesus Christ.
Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord. — Lamentations 3:40
“Step by step, I’m walking on water to a land no man can see.” Bryan Duncan
Step Three: We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God.
Because Step 3 is so critical, we must check our progress on the previous steps. If we haven’t done the work of Step One and Step Two we can’t go forward. If we still think we have everything under control and our sanity isn’t a problem, we probably aren’t ready to turn our lives over to God.
To prepare ourselves for Step Three we fully accept our inability to manage our lives and receive the seeds of faith God planted in our hearts. Having done those things we are ready to turn our life and our will over to God’s loving care.
Just as a building needs a firm foundation, Step Three is central to all of the steps. We need this important cornerstone for an effective, peaceful life in recovery.
Without God in control our lives will be just as they’ve always been… a mess!
With a clear mind we commit ourselves to the decision, surrendering to God and His outcome. The more we learn to trust in the Lord, the more we will trust ourselves and that trust then extends to others. Now free from the bondage of self-will, our negative behaviors fall away; daily routines improve and life begins anew.
With God’s presence in our lives our sense of self improves, we begin to believe we are worthy human beings. We are able to give and receive love again.
I urge you, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–which is your spiritual worship. ~ Romans 12:1
You may want to pray this prayer: God I humbly offer myself to You, build me and do with me what You want. Remove this bondage of self, so I can do Your will. Give me victory over my difficulties so others will see Your power and Love in my life.
Our theme song for Working the Steps: Step by Step by @Bryan_Duncan
“Step by step… I’m walkin’ on water to a land no man can see” ~ Bryan Duncan
Having recognized our brokenness in Step One we may feel empty and lost…
“O.K., I’ve admitted I’m powerless. Now what!?”
Our next step will birth hope in us.
Step 2:Came to believe that God could restore us to sanity.
At this stage we are still hurting and fearful of trusting God about anything. But before we can see evidence of real change in our lives, we have to take a step of faith.
We have to step out to find out. Take the leap. Walk out on that branch.
We’ll never know what’s there until we do.
In my experience God honors that courage and meets us at the level of our expectations. Did you catch the little condition here? If our expectations are low, our results will be low. In the same way, if our expectations are high, the results will be high.
For God is working in you, giving you the desire to obey Him and the power to do what pleases Him. ~ Philippians 2:13
This Scripture is one of my favorite verses in the Bible. I like to break it down like this:
First of all, God’s going to give me the desire to do what He wants me to do. It doesn’t stop there. He’s going to give me the power to do it, too.
You may say, “That’s awesome! But it looks like God’s doing all the work. What do I have to do?”
Step Two gives us new hope as we begin to see help is available. We must simply reach out and accept what God has to offer. Here a spiritual foundation forms that will help us grow into the person we want to be. All we need to do is be willing to take the step.
Remember, God never asks us to do anything without first giving us the ability to do it.
You may want to pray this prayer: In humility I pray to believe in the only Power greater than myself–God. Give me increased faith so I won’t be crazy any more.
I hope you enjoy the theme song for our Working the Twelve Steps Series: Step by Step by @Bryan_Duncan
With my defenses up, I was nervous, but the small group of couples was friendly and inviting. Dr.Weiss spoke from his heart about how he had grown up with a sex addict for a mom. Because of her addiction he was shuffled back and forth from her home to foster homes. Through his mother’s bad influence Dr.Weiss became addicted to sex and pornography at a very young age.
Transparent and real, Dr.Weiss seemed to understand the pain I had. As I listened, I realized for the first time he was talking about me. I was just like his mom.
I was a sex addict.
When Bill and I returned for the Saturday morning session I was anxious to tell Dr.Weiss I wanted to go to Colorado for a 3-Day Intensive Counseling Session. I left the seminar scared but hopeful because I knew help was available.
After all the sex, drugs, alcohol, running away, therapy, medication and jail time; I was finally able to see the truth of my own addiction.
It was a miracle. It was the beginning of my recovery.
The first step is always the hardest. It can be scary and humiliating to admit powerlessness, especially for someone who likes to be in control. And all addicts think they have everything under control.
We must come to a realization that not only are we powerless over our addiction, but over ourselves as sinners. We can’t do anything without the healing power of Jesus Christ.
I don’t understand myself at all, for I really want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. No matter which way I turn, I can’t make myself do right. I want to, but I can’t… Oh what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. ~ Romans 7:15; 18; 24-25 NLT
You may want to pray something like this… Denial has kept me from seeing how powerless I am and how unmanageable my life has become. Today, I ask for help to deal with my addiction / co-dependency.
Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
We are all recovering from something: hurts, habits or hang-ups. And if we’re recovering, that means someone helped us overcome our problem. And if it was Christ, we must tell others.
When I was homeschooling my children in the 90’s we had The 21 Rules of This House by Gregg Harris on our refrigerator. (still do by the way) One of my favorites is Rule #11:When we have something nice to share, we share it.
What better gift to give someone who’s hurting than your story out of bondage into freedom!
This Christmas season, give hope to someone; take an opportunity to share what God has done in your life. I believe people are more receptive to The Good News this time of year than any other.
For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, and wrong… slaves to passions and pleasures of all kinds… But when the kindness and love of God our Savior was revealed, he saved us… God poured out the Holy Spirit abundantly on us through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that by his grace we might be put right with God and come into possession of the eternal life we hope for. This is a true saying. ~Titus 3:3-8