About the Fourth Step – Take all The Time You Need, But Hurry Up.

My first year, I zipped through the steps . . . checked every one off. Now what?

I was surprised to hear long-time AA’s say they were working their fourth step again. Good Grief, I thought wasn’t once enough? Why on earth would anyone revisit such pain?(!)

My first fourth step was as thorough and insightful as I was at the time – not very.

I eagerly did the 5th step and dumped my “inventory” on God and my sponsor, glad to have it out in the open — ugly secrets that were living too long rent-free in my mind and heart. But when I tried to work the 6th step, being ready to have God remove my defects of character, or, the 7th asking Him to remove all of them, I came to see a few more things.

The AA watchword, More will be revealed, took on new meaning.

Working the 4th step again — taking another fearless and moral inventory was not a descent-into- hell ordeal, even if I needed to look at painful stuff that I didn’t remember or understand was in the baggage I brought into the program.

Thinking back to my initial inventory, I saw myself as very much the injured party. (I hate the word, “victim!”) But that was the bottom line in that first inventory – Yes, I admitted I did some stupid, bad, crazy things. But in some ways, I just couldn’t wouldn’t own them.

Coming to see my self-centered irresponsibility – and I am not sure I’ve fully plumbed the depths of its powerful presence in my life – is more than daily working step 10. Like the AA Big Book says of the 4th step the object is to disclose damaged or unsalable goods – get rid of them, promptly and without regrets. (AA Big Book, page 64)

Note: Successful businesses do inventory annually! 

Some of the stuff, the damaged goods, I had hidden on my shelves, I did not recognize until I started my fifth step – having to put into words and say aloud the exact nature of my wrongs was like a big flashlight showing me I maybe hadn’t seen some memory or emotion, or action that was useless or rotting.

The 6th and 7th steps reminded me I was not going to have to go into any dark and scary places alone. That’s the wonder of AA — and amazing power of my higher power!

With God, I can face any new facts of my failures – and my successes. My God who will remove everything I hand over to Him, separated me as far as East is from West — in His Hands, they have no power over me. (Psalm 103:12)

Like Hezekiah who confessed after his life threatening illness, I can say:

Surely it was for my benefit that I suffered such anguish. In your love you kept me from the pit of destruction; you have put all my sins behind your back. (Isaiah 38:17)

How are you doing with the 12 steps, dear friend? God is willing and able to put your “sins” behind His back.  If the steps are new to you, here they are – Thank you for stopping by – and God bless you with courage and strength to take the next step!

Love in Christ,

Sober & Grateful


12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous

  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
  11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

The 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous are Copyright © Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc.

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About the Fourth Step – Take all The Time You Need, But Hurry Up.