Powerless Over Alcohol & LIfe: Step 10
Step 10: Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
Although the "work" this step requires seems really hard, I am reminded that my real work is to mature in my spiritual understanding. But as I write of my personal experience with Step 10, I may use "work" from time to time in the sense of "laboring" through darkness into light.
Sometimes I do not like to start this step because in those situations, I have already told myself that I will not enjoy the result. I have already instinctively condemned myself, having believed the worst about me. I have believed that I am a foul, evil person and that I should have done better or differently or ought to have been different. I have often believed, therefore, that when I look and take this inventory, I will always be wrong.
The "shoulds" and "oughts" have brought me back to a system of believing that I know now is "independent believing." This system of believing starts with the premise that I am just a person on my own, defining my own morality, rather than having my morality defined by the actions of the deity with whom I am joined or who works in my members. In other words, often when I begin this step I’m already believingincorrectly. I do not have an independent morality but only the morality of the Son with whom I am joined–One Spirit–or the morality of Satan, who has operated me in my members. Thus if I am going to get very far as I start Step 10, I need to know and remember where I have come from in my believing and what I am now believing about the fact that Jesus Christ has chosen to live as me (Galatians 2:20).
WHAT HAVE I BELIEVED TODAY?
Since the introductory word is "continued," I know I am simply "continuing" the searching and fearless moral inventory of the Fourth Step. The Fourth Step emphasized my container status. The daily, hourly and sometimes moment-by-moment Tenth Step work does, also. As a slave of sin (Romans 6:20), I once always followed Mr. Sin’s direction ("You do the deeds of your father" John 8:41). My work here is to see what I have believed about myself today, moment by moment, and what the consequences of my believing have been. Had I followed Mr. Sin’s directions today?
Had I believed that I was now a slave of God (Romans 6:22) with Him doing His thing? Or had my believing been that I was somehow an independent, self-operating self and by that believing had I necessarily fulfilled the lusts of the flesh (Galatians 5:17)?
My problem, you see, has always been (when I go with Mr. Sin’s temptations) that I believed I was a self-operating self with needs that must be satisfied. With that type of believing, I was, until recently, willing to go to any lengths to satisfy those bogus needs. No matter what the cost!
Did I believe the same lie today? Were my feelings so prominent in my experience today that I believed I was my feelings–that my feelings were somehow really me? Did I lose track of the truth that my real citizenship is in Heaven and that Christ had chosen to join Himself to me through the Cross? Did I believe that as a result of Christ’s redemptive work we had become One Spirit (I Corinthians 6:17)? Had I felt rejected and, as a result, believed I was rejected, unworthy and "independent"? Had I moved into the terrible state of self-pity in which I had lived so long in the past?
So you see how this Tenth Step inventory goes. I look at my day for the old-time snares of resentment, anger, rebellion, lack of gratitude, self-centered fear, self-pity, etc. Had I today, because of unbelief, sinned and lived in the same type of addictive believing behavior I had used in the past to cover up some perceived lack in me rather than experiencing the pain and maturing spiritually through it?
If I discovered I had sinned today, I needed to promptly admit that sin, repent of the sin and make amends as quickly as possible–and then get on with the great commission (Matthew 28:19-20) which is the Twelfth Step: 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.
TWO LIES SATAN TELLS ME
As I wrote earlier, I seem to have a very hard time working this step. Here are a couple of lies that catch me out. The first addresses that feeling, sense, view, etc. that Satan has hammered at me, and mankind, for so long. That sense that haunts me is that I’m the problem and not him. Satan’s lie to me is that somehow there is a "just me" who lacks integrity, is a self-centered, wrong, bad person who is inherently foul–not just a failure, but a totally despicable human being. The truth is, of course, that I’m a perfect vessel and in my perfect vesselhood, even if I have not believed aright, I have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.
As I daily go about joined to the Lord (I Corinthians 6:17) with Him doing the living (Galatians 2:20), this step tells me to promptly admit "when I was wrong." Not that I’m a wrong person, but that I believed somethingwrong about myself and, therefore, sinned. Although I have been completely forgiven and the slate against me has been erased, I still have this awful feeling of "wrongness." That "wrongness" is not what this step addresses, but is what Satan wants me to experience.
Step 10 says "when" I was wrong, not "since" I was wrong– and there is a great difference, isn’t there? Notwithstanding the "wrongness" Satan has assaulted me with, this step permits, in fact it instructs me, to view myself in a different light. This I can say, then, that while working this step, "Greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world." As a consequence, while I review my day I will see that my actions haven’t always been wrong and that!, in fact, have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. Being made One with Him, I am not a wrong person. So I can look at my day a little clearer, a little cleaner through the eyes of Him who redeemed me, and I will find a neutral me rather than a wrong me.
Instead, this step addresses the requirement that I honestly view my life daily, and when I see a wrong (sin) choice, to promptly confess that I sinned by choosing temporarily to believe that there was a "just me," an independent self, who needed or lacked somethingand chose to get it. SIN!
This step is also very difficult for me because sometimes my insides hurt so badly that it seems I can do nothing about honestly choosing my way out of the pain through confession and prayer (James 5:14). Pride and self-centeredness shame me. Sometimes rm so "shut down" (that is, I appear to be totally disconnected from the event I am inventorying) that I cannot, it seems, choose out of the unbelief. Yet the only way out is by choosing to believe Galatians 2:20 and promptly admitting that the problem today has been that Satan has deceived me into believing that there is a "just me" who must be protected, pampered, and nursed along.
Thus I come to the second part of this step–And after taking the inventory, promptly (being ready or quick to act as occasion demands) admitting where I was wrong. If I just take a personal inventory and stop with that, I miss the release that comes from admitting and repenting of the wrong, the bitterness, the anger and resentment–all of which, unless promptly confessed and repented of, will soon spring up and eat me up again!
The importance of an honest daily inventory can be tied to Hebrews 12:15 (Living Bible): "Watch out that no bitterness takes root among you, for as it springs up it causes deep trouble, hurting many in their spiritual lives."
WILLINGNESS IS THE KEY
The key to living this step successfully depends upon my degree of willingness. Willingness in me centers on agreeing in a small way with what Jesus experienced in Gethsemane–where being "deeply grieved" He said, Father, if thou art willing let this cup pass from me (Matthew 26:38-39). He obviously didn’t like His present circumstances and wanted to escape an inner pain; however, He did not stop there. He went on to say, If this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Thy will be done. He was willing to fully experience what the Father had sent His way. He endured the Cross, despising the shame (Hebrews 12:2) for each of us. So as I see whatever comes to me as coming from the Father’s hand, a willingness develops in me.
When I say, "sometimes my insides hurt so badly it seems that I can do nothing about honestly choosing my way out of the pain," I mean that the pain appears so overwhelming that life really does seem hopeless. It is not, but successful living seems hopeless.
But what is this present pain? Mine, and I imagine yours, too, comes in many different forms: fear, anger, greed, worry, emptiness, feelings of guilt and shame, self-pity, fear of exposure that if you really see me, you won’t like me, the fear that a wrong move on my part will destroy my life, or maybe even no feelings at all–a nameless pain. Regardless of how I feel, life seems to work when I focus on the fact that Jesus did not merrily go about His business with no pain. And He, too, did not want to experience life’s pain but was willing to do so.
My willingness, therefore, comes from a focus on what Christ has done and the gratitude that comes with that recognition. It doesn’t immediately change how I feel. But it does take meback to the fact that Another is living out this life. The ONE who also experienced feelings that pushed Him to say "Not my will but Thine be done" will again say this AS ME.
There can’t be much doubt that a regular Step 10 experience is biblically sound:
Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak.
For you are dead and your life is hidden with Christ in God
Do not be wise in your own eyes. Proverbs 3:7
Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge; but he who hates reproof is stupid Proverbs 12:1
THROUGH PAIN TO MATURITY
It is clear from scripture and experience that the pathway of spiritual maturity is outlined with pain. Indeed, Satan’s lie–that we are independent selves who lack much, need everything we don’t have and can never get enough of–is so deeply ingrained in us that changing from this thinking, feeling, and believing to a right way of thinking feeling, and believing requires trauma to the soul. That trauma is pain!
I am, in my core and forever, a Christ/I–that is, a person who by free choice transferred my permanent allegiance from self-reliance to reliance in Another and was thereby born into the family of God. And God, desiring to manifest Himself to His world through me, decided to and did become one spirit with me and decided to and does, therefore, live His life through and AS me (Galatians 2:20). When I say, then, that I am an alcoholic, I do not intend to confuse you. The real, eternal me-the spirit me, is joined to the Lord–one spirit (I Corinthians 6:17). But the me you can touch and see is emotionally and chemically a slave to the numbing effects of alcohol. I simply cannot drink alcohol, eat food soaked in alcohol or taste alcohol in any form.
Having to experience–without the temporary numbing produced by alcohol or any other addictive behavior–what others experience of fear, joy, wonder, confusion, anger, loss, etc. is a new experience for me. Instead of alcohol, I must now rely on faith in Jesus Christ, in God the Father, and the Holy Spirit to preserve me intact. I’ve never seen any of them but have experienced their handiwork. The Tenth Step helps reaffirm the truth to me.
The Twelve Steps promise what the Bible has always promised. If I steadfastly hold in faith to the life provided by my Higher Power, who I know as the triune God, life will become fulfilling and, therefore, worthwhile. His life through me is laid down for others, and this is the only real joy that exists!
As with all of the preceding nine steps, I necessarily omit from this brief article much of significance and importance. I simply don’t have space to tell all. I urge each of you to find out for yourself the insides of a Twelfth Step life.
Anonymity is a fundamental tradition in AA. However the writer welcomes any questions or comments, which may be sent to the magazine office.
More Articles from The Intercessor, Vol 9 No 4
- More Than An Eating Problem
- Romans Six to Eight, Paul’s Key to the Liberated Life
- Editor’s Note
- Greetings From the Z News Crew!
- Wanted: Faith and Fools
- Why Me God? or How to Deal with Life’s Frustrations
- The Mailbox
- The Solution: The Law & The Cross
- To Think About
- I’ve Been Crucified
- Family Reunion At Blowing Rock, 1993
- Questions & Answers
- Powerless Over Alcohol & LIfe: Step 10
- Words To Live By
- Moments With Meryl
- Excerpt from The Intercession of Rees Howells
- A Look at a Book, A Review: Rees Howells Intercessor