Step four of the twelve step program requires one to [have] “made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves”. Steps one-three focus on admitting helplessness in the face of addiction and turning it over to God’s help. Step four requires that one now look within for what needs to be changed. It is the ultimate introspection. But is it truly possible to take an unbiased look at ourselves unencumbered by either negatively or positively charged ego?
I’ve mentioned before that I dislike the term “faith crisis” and I have to admit that I think part of the reason I dislike it is because I feel it is overused and more often than not misapplied. It reminds me of “epic” in the way that it has taken something that once had a grand meaning and applied it to every single thing imaginable thus robbing the phrase of any meaning at all. I have talked to many many individuals who have had crises of faith and what they describe sounds more like a drop of rain than an earthquake.
There is a natural ebb and flow between doubt and faith, one which can undoubtedly provide for a bumpy ride, but it is still a natural part of life. Sometimes when we need an answer to life’s many ups and downs and mysteries the answer lies within us. Sometimes that fearless moral inventory can give us further insight than simply throwing our hands in the air and yelling faith crisis like it is some sort of safety word.
Change is healthy, and good. Shifting plates beneath our feet keep us on our toes so we don’t become stagnant and waste precious mortal time not growing to our best selves. When we feel the nettles of doubt creeping upon us it can simply be that it is time for a change—time to shake things up. Looking at yourself in the bright light of day can help you to know whether such feelings are cause for alarm or simply the next stage.
Holding on to security blankets of ideas is not in our best interest. Challenge yourself. Challenge each other. Test the scriptures. Stretch and grow. I genuinely relish the opportunity to improve myself. I have a very very long way to go, and I am grateful when my brothers and sisters in Christ can offer me some push-back and let me know when I might get out of hand. I want to be my best self. That doesn’t mean being perfect because that will never happen in mortality for any of us, it means always doing the best you can with the information you have at the time. It means that if I could do any of it all over again with that same light and knowledge I possessed originally I would pass because I know I did it right.
These exercises are how we find empathy and forgiveness for ourselves and others. Learning to be honest with ourselves teaches us to be honest with each other and honest with God. Introspection is such a gift, and I encourage anyone to take the time even 5 minutes a day to get to know you better. You may be so many things to so many different people; son, daughter, husband, wife, mother, father, Home Teacher, Visiting Teacher, employer, employee, but you are your only self. That fearless moral inventory will be worth the time and the hard effort and it will help you to better tell the difference between the high and low tides of your life.