Wednesday, November 22, 2006

the fourth step

I've heard over and over that the most difficult step of a 12-step recovery program is the dreaded number four, the fearless moral inventory of ourselves. In all truth I've wondered what I might list about myself. It seems the immediate and obvious is to list outward effects of inward causes. (In a drunken rage I murdered, in a drug-induced haze I hurt my family over and over again...I DID something). What did I do? It isn't necessarily what I did, but how I am reacting to what was done that concerns me. I represent the other side of the coin, not a victim necessarily, but as to the what, an innocent. Yet not.

I marvel at how God in His vast wisdom and terrible gentleness reaches down with gifts to assist us in our journey. In my desire to force some sort of compartmentalized "that's what's wrong!" inside, to isolate one small section of road, I've overlooked a rising light beginning to illuminate my whole interior landscape. It is an unlikely one in the form of a person, and for so long I did not see colors beginning to appear out of the darkness, showing me the whole horizon of where I've been. Sometimes another life acts as a mirror to our own, and the reflection is complete and true in the moment in time we so desperately need it to be. In my case it is someone behind bars. Someone who has freedom and a life within themselves, so much so that it could be said of this man as the Apostle Paul said of himself, "I have learned in all things to be content". In wealth, in poverty, in want, with plenty...I have learned. I peer through the bars at him in my mind think, how is this possible? How is it possible for an intelligent, energetic and right-thinking person to find content locked in a cell the size of a public restoom with a toilet, a flat, hard mattress and maybe a table and chair?

Contentment. That is the nut. It is not whether my son has done something to profoundly change our lives. Anything might do that. Can I accept this? The prison I dwell in resides in my mind, if there is one. And there is. Someone else who has survived and thrived in the actual shows me where I live. Not only shows me, but holds out a key to me. That is what true content is able to do-completely forget self and focus on others in loving concern. The power of such a life breaks chains, but it is up to me to take the key. The reason I've held back is because it is so humbling to me to acknowledge my low estate firstly, and secondly, it is even harder for me to receive acceptance at such a deep level from another human being without any "dids". I'm used to earning, striving, showing the world what I can do. Someone who has nothing, and everything, has shown me acceptance is the key. The question is, can I accept myself as I am, where I am, and with what circumstances? Perhaps that is the way to approach the dreaded step.


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