We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. – Step Four
“Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the LORD” – Lamentations 3:40
The next part of Step Four is looking at my fears. What are they, why do I have them, how will I combat them, and what does scripture say about them? I started identifying these with my counselor not long ago. As an example, my fear of abandonment is deep rooted. I understand why I have this fear. Until recently, I didn’t realize how early this became part of my belief system. How much this would shape my life. I didn’t recognize how far back it went and how to combat it. Now, I know how. I have real, specific, true to life examples of how, at my worst, my wife and my friends didn’t abandon me. They loved me anyway and stayed with me.
But in your great mercy you did not put an end to them or abandon them, for you are a gracious and merciful God. – Nehemiah 9:31
Whom did I harm? Wow, now there is a question I really don’t want to answer. I can see the beginning of who I will make amends to and for what. So now I have to go through and list who I harmed, how I harmed them, where I was at fault, and what should I have done instead. My wife and kids can take up so many spaces on this list. I broke my wife’s trust. I let her believe that our marriage issues were her fault. I let her think that she wasn’t enough for me. I reinforced the abandonment that she first experienced when her father left. I added fuel to that fire of abandonment for her. I didn’t keep my promises. I made a covenant to her before God. I broke that covenant. In so many ways I broke that covenant. I know I have no guarantees that my wife can stay with me. I should have kept my word. I should have asked for help. I should have reached out to her, to others, to find a way out of this before now. But I didn’t.
What is my deepest, darkest secret fantasy? How does thinking this make me feel about it and myself? What scripture can I use to combat the emotions that arise from having this deep, dark secret? This is an exercise that I haven’t ever allowed myself to truly have. I haven’t ever truly examined what this is in the light. So, now I am putting it on paper. I am making it a real thought, not one I can later deny. Doing so makes me feel deep shame. I am not worthy to have a wife or children. I have opened this up to the light. As overwhelmingly shameful as this is, I have written it out and put it on paper. And I can’t deny it any more.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. – John 1:5