This week’s HTYH is about the fourth step of the twelve-step program. The first step was: “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol,” the second step, “We came to believe a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity,” and the third step, “We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him”. The short form of the first three steps is: I can’t; God can; I think I’ll let Him.
The fourth step is the first of the action steps and we take pencil and paper in hand and, “Make a searching and fearless moral (truth), inventory of ourselves.” There are at least fifty different fourth step inventory forms floating around, but the one outlined on page 65 in the book, “Alcoholics Anonymous,” is the one most of us use. Our liquor was, but a symptom, so we had to get down to causes and conditions. In his book, The Higher Power of the Twelve-Step Program, Professor Chesnut said, “With some people coming into the twelve-step program who claim that they’re atheists, or don’t believe in God, the real problem is that they blame God for their own misfortunes, and actually hate God. It’s not really an intellectual problem that arises because they are so much more intelligent than these other people in the program.” They may like to talk that way, but that’s not what’s really blocking them off from God. Genuinely bad things have happened to them, their lives have been miserable, and they blame God for that.
For some of us, the best remedy may be to start practicing a little bit of simple self-honesty. Am I blaming God for things I actually brought on myself? In the book Alcoholics Anonymous, on page 65, there is a sample fourth step written by an alcoholic who was feeling terribly sorry for himself. His boss was threatening to fire him, his wife was threatening him badly, and there was a nosy old gossip named Mrs. Jones who he was afraid was going to tell his wife he was having an affair with another woman. We hope that this drunk finally realized that if he just stopped showing up drunk for work, padding his expense account, and running around with that other woman, most of his problems would automatically disappear. God didn’t do that to him, he brought it on himself.
If I’m in trouble with the law because I got caught drunk driving, did God hold a gun to my head and make me drink that liquor? Did God then force me to get in my car and drive? Or say I’m a newcomer to Al-Anon who blames God because I’m married to a man who gets drunk and screams at me, and I’m afraid he’s going to start hitting me next. Did I really not know that he drank a lot, and that he had a bad temper, when I married him? “Oh, but it wasn’t that bad at first.” Do I really want to pretend that I knew nothing about his personality and tendencies before I married him? If it was a mistake, was it God or me who made that mistake? The fourth step is designed to make a list of our character defects, resentments, and fears, that are standing between us and a better relationship with God.
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