“God is in charge of human life, watching and examining us from the inside and out.
Proverbs 20:27 The Message
“The genesis of an obedient life is our confession; most notably the confession of our disobedience is what prompts us to live an obedient life with God.”
- Ann Lamott
We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
Ever notice how easy it is to become more concerned with how we look on the outside than with the honest reality of our inner character? It’s not like we intend to be dishonest, because we don’t. We want and intend to live right and to do good but—inevitably it seems—we slip off the path of God’s leading when we become overly concerned with how we look to others. Then, the failures that follow make us feel embarrassed and ashamed so we naturally—instinctively—cover up and hide the failure and powerlessness that we don’t want others to see.
Trying to act good on the outside in order to show that we are good on the inside sets us up for failure. It adds to our dysfunctional way of thinking and living. We think and feel one way, but then we act out in other ways—ways that are contrary to what we know to be right. And when our actions go against our true convictions, we get split into pieces spiritually and psychologically. This results in a kind of deep interpersonal disintegration that, sadly, we will probably not even realize is happening to us. Just like with our primary addiction, the only way to break this cycle of denial and disintegration is to admit that we have a problem. Specifically, we have to be willing to admit that we suffer from the great obsession that all human beings—with the exception of Jesus—seem to suffer from: we want to be bigger and more powerful than we really are.
To address this kind of deep-rooted sinfulness effectively, we have to admit that we are obsessed with getting our act together so that others will be impressed with us and our efforts. We must admit our struggles if we want to be free from them. This even includes admitting how obsessed we have been to overcome our struggles. We need to admit that we don’t have our act together and that we never did have our act together. We need to accept in our innermost selves that, even if it were possible for us to get our act together, all that we would ever have would be nothing more than an act.
The first act of integrity is to recognize and admit how we lack integrity.
Real willingness — always expressed in diligent action — is absolutely indispensable. By honestly recognizing our need for help and open-mindedly accepting help from others, we willingly display the kind of fortitude that is needed to continue our work of recovery. Recovery requires courage. Courage is the objective willingness to move forward in spite of our fear – to move in the very direction in which we are afraid.
When you made the decision to turn your will and your life over to God, you became a partner with Him, partnering to develop His miraculous purposes in your life. Now, doing your personal inventory is your partnership ‘response-ability.’ No one can do this but you. While we are doing our work, God helps our hearts trust and our minds to think in healthier, more productive ways.
"It is not your diligence; it is not your examination of yourself that will enlighten you concerning sin. Instead, it is God who does all the revealing… If you try to be the one who does the examining, there is a very good chance that you will deceive yourself."
God is in charge of human life, watching and examining us inside and out.
Proverbs 20:27 MSG
The first step toward fortitude is dissecting our fears to find out what it really is that we’re afraid of, then asking ourselves, is this fear legitimate? When we take the time to look at our fears in this way, most often we’ll find that the fear overlooks God’s active presence. If the fear is one of loss, remind yourself of God’s promised provision. If the fear is one of ridicule, thank God you have an opportunity to grow in humility! Remind yourself that nothing can happen to you apart from God’s watchful care. He doesn’t blink, and He can use any circumstance for His good.
Gary L. Thomas, The Pursuit of Glory
He is working in you. God is helping you obey Him. God is doing what He wants done in you.
Philippians 2:13 NLT
Sexual addiction is not the cause of our moral failings nor is sexual addiction a moral failing in and of itself. Sexual addiction and the subsequent moral failings are the result of spiritual and emotional malnourishment. When making a moral inventory we sift through our past and present behaviors in order to recognize selfish thinking, misguided or inaccurate beliefs and the ineffective emotional developments that promoted our addictive behavior. It is essential that we see these things for what they really are, so they can be changed or eliminated from our lives. A man’s hidden nature creates his external actions, and moral failings will continue if they are not faced and dealt with honestly.
You are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy – full of greed and indulgence! You Pharisees! First wash the inside of the cup, and then the outside will become clean, too.
Matthew 23:26 NLT
Making my personal inventory helped me to see specific things in me that promoted my addictive thinking and acting. I was able to see how self-centered I was, how lonely I was, how angry I was and how frustrated I had been most of my life. My personal inventory was a practical, measurable commitment to clear the ground in preparation for the construction of a new person made by the design and resources of God, The Master Builder of Life. Gaining increased objectivity about myself in this way set me on course to bring my heart and mind together in agreement with God. No longer alienated spiritually from God and from myself, I sensed I was becoming a member in the family of the most blessed of all men.
"If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are halfway through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves."
“God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.”
Matthew 5:9 NLT
“Let’s not talk prudence while practicing evasion.”
- Alcoholics Anonymous
We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
It is time that we begin repairing the damage and hurt that we have caused other people, whenever and wherever it is possible for us to do so. Initiating peace and healing will always be one of the responsibilities that we have in the life that God is giving to us. So, let us commit ourselves to helping others recover from the pain that we have caused them—pain that they didn’t create or deserve.
This will probably not be easy. Ask any recovering addict that has preceded us in the process of making Step Nine amends and they will tell you that making amends is hard work. And it is all the more difficult when we are offering our amends to people who, in all likelihood, may resent us. Unfortunately, there is no shortcut or magic wand in setting our wrongs right, especially where other people are involved.Looking for shortcuts will only get us lost in our own self-created world of fantasy and make-believe. Recovery from addiction and enjoying healthy relationships only happens in the real world. If we really want to recover and have good relationships in the future, we will have to be willing to live in the real world.
Making amends is not optional if we want to recover, grow and change. The best thing we can do is to help those who have been hurt by our addictions and the self-centered ways that we have lived our lives.
HAVE YOU BEEN FOOLING YOURSELF? You cannot become the person God created you to be if you play games with the truth. To make a real claim for the kind of faith that leads to recovery, it is your responsibility to pursue self-clarity, so you can learn to understand who you are, what you are about, why you think the way you do and why you do the things you do. This may even mean admitting how hopeless you still feel, or how weak you feel your faith to be. If we want to know God personally, the place to start is with the truth about ourselves. God is a God of truth. He is a God of reality. To procrastinate in this work of self-honesty is to avoid the process of growing in relationship to God, who is our only hope. All God is asking you to be is completely honest — right now. With your addiction as obvious evidence, you were not honest in the past, and tomorrow may never come. Your opportunity for recovery is to face yourself honestly, today and every day. Procrastination is deadly to sexual addicts.
The moral inventory is a cool examination of the damages that occurred to us during life and a sincere effort to look at them in
true perspective. This has the effect of taking the ground glass out of us, the emotional substance that still cuts and inhibits.
Bill Wilson, As Bill Sees It
You want me to be completely truthful, so teach me wisdom.
Psalm 51:6 NCV
There is no effective substitute for a truthful, realistic perspective of who you are. Honesty, openness and willingness — the very things we run from in our addictions — are required. Most everyone in Operation Integrity will readily admit they felt fearful and reluctant about making their own personal inventory. It can seem like an impossibly uncomfortable thing to do. We all needed help. Being open-minded, we were willing to ask for the help we needed. And we got it. We got help from our sponsors, our mentors and our counselors. If you need help, ask for it. You are not alone.
“Do to others as you would like them to do to you.” Luke 6:31 NLT
"We make good actions and let those actions speak for us."
- The Men of Operation Integrity
We made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
We started to identify our shortcomings, all of which stem from our self-centeredness, in our Step Four inventory. We realized that we had lived for ourselves (usually without realizing it), and other people have suffered because of it. Now, because of God’s power to transform us, things can be different. The recovery that we are experiencing today brings with it an increasing awareness of our shortcomings, which further illuminates our need for God and deepens our desire for the kind of life that only God can give to us. We see ourselves and the world around us differently from the way we did before. We can have hopeful enthusiasm for our future. This new life that God is giving to us is good. It is better than anything we could have provided for ourselves. But, as good as we may feel about ourselves and our recovery, most of us—if we are willing to look deep enough to see it—still experience a deep, nagging sense that there is unfinished business that we need to tend to. This new life in Christ that we are receiving will be short-lived if we don’t continue to grow away from our selfishness, or if we forget how we have negatively impacted the lives of others.
Everything we say and everything we do affects the lives of people around us. In ways that are big and small, and often in ways we don’t even realize, all that we say engages other people, bringing reactions and consequences back to us. Like it or not, we make an impact on the world—good or bad—beginning first and foremost with those closest to us. It is impossible to escape the impact and influence that we have. The most honest questions we can ask ourselves are, What will be the result of our lives? What impact will we have? Will we be men and women of change, growth and integrity or will we live for ourselves, taking from and consuming the people and the world around us?
Sexual addiction is about escape. The addictive acting out we have done made it possible for us to temporarily avoid uncomfortable and painful feelings like inadequacy, fear, hopelessness, loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted or unloved. But we could not escape these painful feelings forever. Sooner or later they always returned, usually with a vengeance. And, because most of us grew up having painful feelings we could not escape, we may have grown callused to them, and not realized we felt like we did. We often even trained ourselves subconsciously to avoid our feelings through thoughts, fantasies and other intoxicating experiences, thereby losing connection with what was really going on inside us. It’s like we had unknowingly developed our own world of make-believe and become lost in it. But this will never work for long. Anyone who wants to recover will have to leave their fantasies behind them, and accept the real truth of who they are and the reality of their lives. Making an inventory of our feelings, beliefs, attitudes and actions is a pursuit of this reality. It is a commitment to recognize and acknowledge one’s personal truth, so that our wounds can be healed. Personally, I would have much preferred to do someone else’s inventory, but I was the one who needed recovery, so I stuck with taking inventory of myself. It was not fun and it was not easy.