Step 5 — Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs
Honesty is an admirable quality. Being honest with myself was a different story. I lied to wives, relationship partners, friends and occasionally bosses and managers, if I thought it would get me somewhere. For decades the person the closest to me I lied to most often was me. Today I am an honest, trustworthy person. With everyone. Most importantly, with myself.
Sometimes my honesty becomes brutal. I struggle with brutal honesty. Sometimes I think brutal honesty does more harm than good. I have friends who are brutally honest with me and I appreciate it. I guess it depends on the level of intimacy with the friend. I would not be amenable to brutal honesty from someone I was not spiritually intimate with. Nor would I dare be brutally honest with someone with whom I did not have a spiritually intimate relationship.
1 John 1:9—“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
My fourth step required me to be honest with myself about what I liked and didn’t like about me. The way they structure the inventory, I could not finish it, I could not truthfully answer all the questions without being honest with myself. I didn’t complete my inventory overnight. In fact, I anguished over it a long time. I had to dig deeply into my past and my present life and uncover some nasty stuff, and some good stuff as well.
Psalms 32:5)—“I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,’ and You forgave the iniquity of my sin.”
Then, in step five I had to admit to myself that what I was discovering about myself was true. Step five requires that I be honest and transparent. I had to empty my house. To share all that I think is good and bad about me with another. I couldn’t leave any skeletons in the closet, no dust in the attic, no secrets under the floorboards.
Seeking another human being with whom I felt comfortable sharing all this dirt with was burdensome. First of all, I had never done anything like that before. I was afraid whomever I told would judge me and may not like me when I was through telling all about myself. I prayed about who to ask, waited, prayed then waited some more. Finally, when I got up enough courage, I invited my pastor to be the one to whom I would admit the exact nature of my wrongs. He agreed. He was an awesome, Godly man and friend besides my pastor. Come to find out he had been on the receiving end of fifth step admissions before. That was a relief to hear.
Author’s Note: The Bible does not require confession to a human being for the purpose of gaining forgiveness from God. In fact 1 Timothy 2:5 tells us that Jesus Christ is the only mediator between God and man. However, venting to a trained professional counselor or minister can be therapeutic.
We sat in my apartment one afternoon and for the next hour-and-a-half I poured out my heart to him about all the stuff I discovered in my step four inventory. Afterwards he prayed with me and gave me some feedback that has proven invaluable to me throughout my life.
Honestly, I can’t remember sitting down with God and admitting my wrongs to God all at one time like I did with my pastor. However, after I did my step 5 with myself and my pastor I learned the blessings of confessing my sins to the Father. Every time I sin, or do something foolish, I’m on my knees or in prayer talking with God and confessing my sins to Him. When the Holy Spirit convicts me of my sin or my behavior that is not glorifying God, I’m quick to talk it over with God and confess.
Proverbs 28:13 — He who conceals his sin does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.
Step 5 is a real blessing to me. As I’ve said before the 12 steps of recovery is not a project you finish. Some folks go through the steps and forget about them. I can’t. My intimate, personal relationship with Jesus and the 12 steps of recovery are a way of life for me. Each of the 12 steps is rooted in Scripture. God wrote the 12 steps. God inspired Bill W to put them in a form that would reach millions of people and bring them into intimacy with the living God. Admitting our character flaws to God, at just the right time (in step 5) is a powerful step on the path to healing. It certainly was for me.
I’m preparing to do a step 5 now with one of my trusted, follower-of-Christ friends. I had to go back to step one with a particular character flaw I discovered in me. As I worked through the steps I realized that this character defect took root when I was eight or nine. I’ll work through it, and I’ll get past it. But it will take me awhile. My intimate relationship with Jesus and the 12 steps will help me face it, confess it, repent of it and rid my life of it.
For me, there’s no other way to live.
If you struggle with recovery issues, or you feel lost and discouraged in life, I am always available to correspond with you. You may contact me any time at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re in this together.
Thank you for sharing your experience Steve. In sharing, you are lighting the way for those in the same quandary. The Lord be with you as He affirms Himself and leads you in the days ahead.
Thank you, Evelyn, for your always encouraging comments.