After Stepping Fourth!

I’m fascinated by how the Steps change lives, mine included. I’m so glad all 12 Steps are recited at the beginning of most AA meetings. I’ve experienced some meetings without them and to me, it feels oddly disconcerting; like standing at the edge of the water on the beach and feeling the sand wash away beneath me. I try not to tip, but I eventually I can’t stay standing in the shifting sand. Those Steps keep me grounded in truth.

There’s a rhythm to the steps, too. Something significant happens after taking Step 5. Actually, Bill W suggests we return home and for an hour, quietly reviewing what just happened.

Taking this book down from the shelf we turn to the page which contains the twelve steps. Carefully reading the first five proposals we ask if we have omitted anything, for we are building an arch through which we shall walk a free man at last. ~ Alcoholics Anonymous, 2011, p 75

Those first 5 steps are basic to recovery. If I short change any one of them, my recovery becomes a fight against the tides.

A major reason is, just as Bill says, we are building an arch through which we shall walk—free at last! The keystone of the arch is built during the process of Steps 1 through 5. I would guess that’s why he suggests we review our initial Steps before going ahead with Steps 6 through 12.

I’ve heard it said, “You can always go back and do it better next time, just get through the 4th step as quickly as you can the first time.” Compare that to what Bill says about the 4th Step.

We went back through our lives. Nothing counted but thoroughness and honesty. When we finished we considered it carefully. ~ Alcoholics Anonymous, 2011, p 65

Freedom comes from seeing my life clearly and accepting my own part in the patterns of my life. It doesn’t come from rushing through the facts or trying to race through the 4th step just so I can be done with it. The longer I’m in recovery, the more I rely on the 4th Step. I try to use it every time I am upset, afraid, angry, or unbalanced in life. When I feel the sand shifting beneath my toes and the tides of life are tipping me, I know it’s time for the 4th.

When I work an inventory today, I am set free. Free because I get a better grasp of my own reality, my own truth. That kind of truth does set me free. However, I have to seek the truth to be freed by it, don’t I? It doesn’t free me if I’m in denial, or don’t take the time to seek it.

The truth will set you free, to the extent that you recognize it and cooperate with it.

PS: James A. Garfield said, The truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable. Amen!