Step 4 - is a searching and fearless moral inventory - or a struggle.
The story that i used in preaching this week was Jacob wrestling with the angel/man/God in the night. And the word of the week was struggle.
I struggled with the whole idea of the searching and fearless moral inventory. To look deeply at ourselves takes a lot of courage. Richard Rohr wrote: "I am convinced that some people are driven to addictions to quiet their constant inner critic - it only gives them another thing to hate themselves for!"
And so a searching and fearless moral inventory seems to invite judgment against ourselves that can so easily lead to despair. What do I do with the mess that is me?
This weekend i was blessed!!!! to go to a workshop led by Richard Rohr. He is truly one of my great mentors in his writing and his lecturing and traveling will stop in March. So Friday and Saturday was a gift beyond compare. He spoke - without notes for the most part - Friday Night and 4 times on Saturday. He was wise, funny, and extremely real.
One of the things he talked about was how so many people's idea of God has not grown past - "Santa Claus" - making a list and checking it twice and going to find out who is naughty and nice. And that kind of theology means that some people are in and some are out and you better watch out! With that God my inventory will be superficial and fearful.
But I have grown to understand God as the complete source of love and grace. And that our task as humans is to receive the love that God is giving us and then to give it away. That is our source of happiness. In fact, sin then - is what we do to block receiving the love and giving the love away.
With a God who is all love, it is a lot easier to do the necessary struggle of self examination. Richard Rohr calls this "shadowboxing" as we have glimpse the parts of ourselves that we do not want to see - "our unacceptable self by reason of nature, nurture and choice."
What I loved about this "searching and Fearless" moral inventory is that it is about seeing. Seeing what we may not want to see about ourselves -and "if you see rightly the actions and behavior will eventually take care of themselves."
I find such hope in this. And I trust that as we continue on this journey through the 12 steps that God is giving us the courage to see and to trust that God can help us to become less blocked, less defended, more whole, and full of love and spirit.
Two further thoughts from Richard
From the book:
"The goal is actually not the perfect avoidance of all sin, which is not possible anyway, but the struggle itself and the encounter and wisdom that comes from it."
From the workshop:
"Grace increases by usage....say yes to the first grace, you open yourself up to more grace. if you will not allow God to love you in your unworthiness, you do not grow up - becoming merciful and gracious. You never meet love and you never become love."
It is a lot to ruminate on.
But it enables me to say and live by this:
God is Good all the time
All the time God is good.