“Admit to yourself, to your Heavenly Father in the name of Jesus Christ, to proper priesthood authority, and to another person the exact nature of your wrongs.”
Step 5 (Confession) is one of those “scary” steps. It is the first one in which we actually have to talk to someone else about our past. If we have never done this before, it can seem overwhelming. Here are 6 observations about working Step 5, based on the manual for the Addiction Recovery Program of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, A Guide to Addiction Recovery and Healing.
1. Emotional Isolation ↔ Addictive Behavior
In the first paragraph of Step 5 the Guide talks about addiction “thriving” in an atmosphere of emotional isolation. I think addiction and emotional isolation feed off of each other. They are like the chicken and the egg; which comes first? When we isolate (avoid social interactions, stop sharing our feelings with loved ones, etc.) we are more likely to engage in addictive behavior. At the same time, when we indulge in our addictions, we are more likely to withdraw and isolate. We need to be on the alert for both so that we can recognize that we are heading down a potentially dangerous path regardless of which one comes first this time.
2. The Need for a Sponsor or Support Person
In the Church we are familiar with the role of the Bishop as someone to whom we can confess sins of a serious nature in order to be sure that we are on the correct path to repentance. Step 5 of the manual talks about the importance of doing this. But then it goes on to say “We also selected another trusted person to whom we could disclose the exact nature of our wrongs. We tried to select someone who had gone through steps 4 and 5 and who was well-grounded in the gospel.”
Most commonly the person to whom we read our inventories is our sponsor or “support person” as s/he is referred to in the Guide. This person already knows us and loves us. S/he has helped us to work through the previous steps and wants only the best for us. It has been my privilege to have been that support person for quite a few 5th Steps. No matter what they tell me, the Spirit is there and helps me avoid rejecting, judging or preaching to them. We have all done things that we would rather not have to admit, but admitting them allows us to finally put them behind us and become free of the past and able to welcome the changes that the Lord will help us achieve in the remaining steps.
3. A Sponsor Can Hold Up a Mirror
Following the previous quote, the Guide goes on to say, “The individuals who listened to our inventories often helped us see lingering areas of self-deception.” When my sponsees share their inventories with me, I listen for patterns. Are there certain behaviors or motivations that I hear over and over again? After she is done sharing I reflect back to her what I have heard. I help her to identify shortcomings and weaknesses that are expressing themselves through the behaviors and attitudes that she shared with me.
4. Generate a List of Shortcomings and Weaknesses
Each step has an input and an output. The input to Step 5 is the moral inventory we wrote in Step 4. The output of Step 5 is a list of character weaknesses and shortcomings. We will need that as we begin working Step 6, which is about becoming ready and willing to turn our character weaknesses over to God.
5. Disclosing ALL Your Weaknesses
When someone shares their inventory with me, there are usually one or two things that they really feel uncomfortable disclosing. Holding back those things is like declaring bankruptcy without telling the judge about the most embarrassing of your debts. (See Declaring Spiritual Bankruptcy – Becoming Happy, Joyous and Free.) Don’t be afraid. You will survive sharing everything. Hundreds of thousands of others have done this and lived to tell about it. In fact, they almost universally found a new freedom and a new happiness by doing it. It is like taking off a backpack full of heavy rocks.
6. When You Are Ready, You Will WANT to Do It
This is true for every step. If I am not ready for a particular step, I look ahead with dread to it. This may even cause me to procrastinate working the program at all. It is a waste of time and a tool of the Adversary. If I have completed a thorough and fearless inventory in Step 4 to the best of my ability, I want to give it away in Step 5. If I am not ready to give it away, then I am not really finished with Step 4. I should pray for guidance. Perhaps I missed something? Maybe I didn’t dig deep enough? When I am ready to move on to Step 5, I will be anxious to give away my inventory.
Trust the Lord and trust the program. Prayerfully select a sponsor or support person who has worked the program and let them help you work it one step at a time and pray for guidance. “It works when you work it, and you’re worth it.”
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