Among the 12 Steps, there are a few that can make us feel so fearful or overwhelmed that we may choose to stop our forward motion rather than have to work those steps. Step 4, in which we take a searching and fearless moral inventory is one of them. So is Step 5, when we share that inventory with another person. Step 9, in which we actually reach out to those we have harmed, ask for their forgiveness and make amends to them is so daunting that people often get “stuck” in step 8, afraid to move on.
The paradox is that each of these steps, once taken, produces feelings of growth, love, acceptance and peace far stronger than the fear felt while contemplating the step. As we work the steps, however, hearing that these feelings are waiting for us on the other side of the work doesn’t always motivate us sufficiently to face the fear.
Fear is one of the main reasons we don’t progress in the steps and that we get stuck in our addictions. Fear is, for many, the main reason we indulge in our addictions in the first place!
The scriptures clearly tell us that fear does not come from the Lord. In 2 Timothy 1:7 we find, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” If God does not give us the spirit of fear, then who does? Satan. And we willingly accept this gift from our Adversary, and embrace it. As a “natural man” (or woman) we are susceptible to fear.
What does this scripture tell us that the Lord gives us instead of fear? He gives us the spirit of power—the power of the Lord, the power of the Atonement—to use to do His will. We are given the spirit of love, which is the power by which the universe was created. And finally, we are given the spirit of a sound mind: peace, calmness and serenity.
For some reason we are much more hesitant to receive the gifts of power, love and a sound mind from the Lord than we are to receive the gift of fear from the Adversary. (See my post on Receiving Gifts.)
What do we need to do to be able to receive these good gifts? We must put off the “natural man” and become a “saint”—a child of God.
“For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.” (Moroni 3:19)
Make a decision to put aside fear—to refuse to accept that gift from Satan—and to trust the Lord and receive His gifts. Plunge ahead in your program with the help of your sponsor and other support people. You can do this. The Steps will work for you. You do not need to walk in fear. You are a son or daughter of God, designed and created by Him. He will help you achieve the recovery you deserve so that you can become a more useful and valiant servant as you mend the fences you have broken, and share the gift of recovery with those around you.
- What fears are preventing you from making progress in the steps or anything else?
- What do you believe is the source of your fear?
- Are you willing to set aside your fear and trust the Lord to lead you forward?
- What action are you willing to take today to move forward, walking in faith rather than fear?