Step Five of the Twelve Steps reads: “We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.” Step Four swept up the trash by having us inventory all our wrongs in detail. Step Five shows us how to dump the trash.
Many AA participants found completing Step Five as the pinnacle of their recovery. They recount feeling exhilarated at the weight being lifted from their shoulders in this “trash dumping” process. On the other hand, Joe Hazel, my friend and my licensing supervisor with 35 years in the field often has stated that the most frequent stumbling block for folks in recovery rests here. They cannot forgive themselves.
They know the harm their choices have caused. They do not see how that harm can ever be repaired or how they can pay their debt for the repairs. Therefore they cannot see how they can be forgiven. A continuance in their addiction seems to serve as an appropriate form of self-punishment—and so the downward spiral goes. . .
An AA based group that also proclaims itself Christian has an entire theological frame work to deal with that and explain how we can find true forgiveness through the gift of grace given by Jesus. Yet we understand that Christianity makes no sense to the uninitiated—which includes countless addicts seeking recovery. For those that come to faith, the explanation of our forgiveness and all of life’s purpose and meaning unfold as God describes it in God’s self-revelation: the Bible.
Adam and Eve chose to bring bad choices—sin, into the world and all of us have participated in those choices since. Our Creator remains sinless but created us for companionship. Companionship could not occur without the price for our sin being paid. To solve the problem, God paid the price of sin by coming to earth in the form of Jesus and being offered up on a cross as a sin sacrifice. Jesus was resurrected at Easter. This sacrifice paid the sin price for anyone choosing to recognize that they needed a sin Savior and that God sent Jesus to fulfill that purpose. Our true acknowledgement and request creates a personal relationship with God that lasts through this life into eternity.
In fact, since God promises forgiveness to any that confess, it can be argued that any who will not forgive themselves need return to the first three steps to recognize they are not God—God is– and recovery will not occur unless our will is given over to God–our higher power.
I openly declare myself in the Christian camp but I would not do anything intentional to block someone’s recovery. Some seem to have gone through the process of identifying their wrongs, confessing them to another and then setting about to make amends as possible outside of a theological framework and have found recovery.
AA founders– Bill W. and Dr. Bob—both identified themselves as Christ followers yet they realized the wisdom of allowing people—as their God did– to make their own choices. They realized that most that make the 12 step journey will in fact come to find the God of the Bible in that journey. Yet they knew some would not—but there was a better chance that their lives and the world would be improved with their victory over addiction. I defer to that stance and wisdom!