Tuesday Re-mix –
Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24
Step 4: We make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
[I am using these Tuesday Re-mixes for a few weeks to think (again) about addiction to self-reliance and how that addiction is one of the biggest challenges to genuine community which we face in the American church culture.]
It was several years ago when a back injury made me finally give up my yardwork. That was a difficult thing for me. I actually enjoy yardwork…in my own yard, anyway. So it was difficult for me to let someone else do it. It is MY yard, and I know all of its nooks and crannies and secrets, and I certainly did not want some stranger coming in and caring for my yard. But the biggest adjustment for me in giving up that little area of self-reliance was the fact that somebody else was going to get very familiar with all of the embarrassing hidden messes in my yard…all of those corners and hidden spots which were not well-groomed and which hid some not-so-nice things.
If you have ever had someone come in and clean your house, you have felt that same feeling. They see everything…that junk drawer in the kitchen, that cabinet which hides stuff you haven’t seen in years, and that horrible, cluttered closet. It is embarrassing!
Thinking about Step 4 in our recovery from the addiction to self-reliance, taking an honest moral inventory of our inner-most life is revealing. Just like that secret cluttered closet in the house and that hidden ugly corner in the yard, our lives have secret areas of sin which are a direct result of our insistence on self-reliance. Secret sin is a natural by-product of independence and anonymity. Without anyone looking around in our thought life, we are free to have entire areas of our lives with no accountability at all. Secret sin in my life is perhaps the surest evidence of my addiction to self.
That is why Step 4 is a very real step toward recovery for us. The very moment we begin to let go of that privacy and independence and turn toward community (i.e., let someone else into our “yard” to start poking around), the recovery begins to feel very real…and a little painful. But isn’t that the point? Isn’t that why God created us with that need for community? Without the help of others, when I rather depend completely on myself to live the life I am called to live, I am doomed to fail from the beginning, because none of us–NONE OF US–is capable of defeating our secret sin all by ourselves. We need each other.
So, what about that secret sin in your life? How long will you go on lying to yourself saying that, one day, you will just decide to clean it up and it will all be taken care of? My friend, that day will never come. No, as you take an honest moral inventory of all the secret sin your self-reliance has brought you, you can only come to one conclusion…self-reliance does not work. You need a friend. We all do.