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Old 12-30-2014, 09:58 AM   #1
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Default Step Five

About Step 5

"All of A.A.'s Twelve Steps ask us to go contrary to our natural desires. . . they deflate our egos. When it comes to ego deflation, few Steps are harder to take than Five. But scarcely any Step is more necessary to longtime sobriety and peace of mind than this one." [Anonymous, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, AA World Services, 1952]

"The thing to do with sin is to do what Nicodemus did: go and search out someone with whom we can talk privately and frankly. Tell them of these things and, with them as witness, give these sins and our old selves with them, to God. You say that you can do this alone with God; and I ask you, Have you succeeded in doing so? I said I was going to do that for years, but it never happened until I let a human witness come in on my decision. That is the "how" of getting rid of sin if you are in earnest about doing it at all." [Samuel Shoemaker, National Awakening, Harper and Row, 1936]

"Some people seek an easier and softer way by doing a "general confession" to God alone. They are not about to name specifically the humiliating, "awful" things they have done out loud before another human being. But this very act of specifically confessing things is what often leads to serenity. The more afraid you are to tell about a certain act or thought in your fifth Step, the more likely it is that confessing that particular thing will put a new crack in your denial and free you in a new area." [J. Keith Miller, A Hunger for Healing, HarperCollins, 1991]
Step 5: Related Biblical Themes

* Admitted. The spiritual discipline of confession is central to all Twelve Step recovery programs. Unfortunately few Christians today have practical experience with the spiritual discipline of confession. Or, if we do have experience with confession, we have probably experienced this discipline as a shaming and counterproductive exercise in self-blame. The biblical foundations for confession are not difficult to find [See for example: James 5:16, Ps 32:3-5, Proverbs 28:13]. It is important to remember that confession is presented in the Bible as a nonnegotiable part of the normal Christian life. Working Step Five may be the first opportunity many of us have had to learn how to practice this spiritual discipline in a healthy way.

By the time we get to Step Five many of us have spent years learning not to admit anything. We have learned instead how to blame, to evade, to deceive, to deny. Many of us were raised in family systems that were deeply committed to the 'Don't Talk' rule. Although often unspoken, this rule is sometimes expressed in slogans such as: "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all," or "You shouldn't wash family laundry in public." Step Five is a healthy replacement for the 'Don't Talk' rule. It may seem like a more difficult rule at first. It may seem like it will lead to more shame rather than to less. But this rule leads to life rather than to death. As A.A. rightly says of this Step: it is "the beginning of true kinship with man and God."

* To God If we believe that God knows everything already, why is it so difficult to tell God the truth? Think about it. If God knows it already, why do we try to be evasive? The fact is that we do. We pretend God doesn't know. We live as if God doesn't know. Psalm 32 contains a powerful image of what it is like to try to keep the truth from God:

"When I kept silent,
My bones wasted away
Through my groaning all day long."
[Psalm 32:3]

We expect silence to be the best course of action. But silence about the exact nature of our wrongs leads to depression, sleeplessness and exhaustion.

* To ourselves. We are the principal victims of our denial. The Bible is quite clear about this: "If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us" [1 John 1:8]. Self deception is a drama familiar to all addicts. In Step Five we start telling the truth to ourselves. What does this mean? It means taking full personal ownership of the inventory we wrote in Step Four. To admit to ourselves means 'taking it in,' 'not avoiding' the painful realities we wrote about. This may take some time. Painful truths 'sink in' slowly. But as Step Five helps us let our fourth step work 'sink in' we are already being prepared for the work to come in Step Six.

* To another human being. It is possible (not a good idea, but possible) to do the first four steps in some sort of isolation. But Step Five requires us to talk to another person. The suggestion of Step Five is that we start with telling the truth to God, to ourselves and to one other human being. It is a first step towards a life style of truth telling.

Why should we have to admit our wrongs to another person? Decades of practical experience have shown that we can manage to hold on to our denial if our confession is only to God and to ourselves. Making a full confession to someone who understands the addictive process, someone who has been there themselves, can introduce a completely new dynamic to the process.

* The exact nature of our wrongs. One way that people commonly protect themselves from the full impact of Step Five is to fall back on generalizations like "When I drank, I made a mess of things." Generalizations are a kind of self-protection strategy that is very common among Christians who understand the doctrine of sin in only general terms. If sin is some kind of abstract problem (connected perhaps with very distant relatives like Adam and Eve!) then it is not a real, practical, pressing problem that we face everyday. For some Christians this abstract understanding of sin is compounded by a very abstract understanding of what God has done for us in Jesus. Our problem with sin can become a theoretical problem that God has already theoretically solved! This step requires us to take a very different approach to the material we identified in Step Four. We must have a very specific approach to our own personal wrongs. There is a world of difference between admitting to myself that I have 'a problem' and admitting that last week I missed my daughter's recital because I was too obsessed with work, money, alcohol, sex or whatever to keep track of time. The specifics of Step Four make Step Five a lot more painful. . . and a lot more powerful. It is in admitting to the exact nature of our wrongs that we begin to develop the willingness to change that will be central to Step Six. If we avoid the pain of Step Five, we will never move on to Step Six.
"No matter what you have done up to this moment, you get 24 brand-new hours to spend every single day." --Brian Tracy
AA gives us an opportunity to recreate ourselves, with God's help, one day at a time. --Rufus K.
When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on. --Franklin D. Roosevelt
We stay sober and clean together - one day at a time!
God says that each of us is worth loving.
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