Step Five: Admitting the exact nature of our wrongs

Admitted to God,
to ourselves,
and to another human being
the exact nature of our wrongs.”
(“Alcoholics Anonymous“, page 59)

Humility and transparency within “the shared honesty of mutual vulnerability openly acknowledged” (Ernest Kurtz) while on a spiritual pathway truly going somewhere.

First of “The Four Absolutes“: Honesty.

To begin, here is some perspective (as mentioned at Step Six) in relation to Step Five:
“At the moment we are trying to put our lives in order.  But this is not an end in itself.  Our real purpose is to fit ourselves to be of maximum service to God and the people about us. ” (“A.A.”, page 77)  And since a well-done Step Four is a prerequisite or “something required as a prior condition so whatever is next can happen” (Webster):
1. Have you thoroughly analyzed your resentments?
2. Have you begun to comprehend their futility and fatality, and to see their terrible destructiveness in the lives of all?
3. Have you learned of and begun to practice tolerance, patience and good will toward all people, even your enemies?
4. Have you listed the people hurt by your past conduct reviewed so far, and have you become at least willing to straighten out whatever you can?
If not, please send an e-mail and one of us will help you fully prepare for what Step Five is all about.

For people either familiar with or inclined toward religious “confession”, it is important to understand Step Five is about something far beyond merely reading, reciting or admitting to a “rap sheet” of past wrongs or “sins” or whatever other word any of us might wish to use there.  Instead, Step Five is about “the exact nature” — the inherent characteristic — of our past moral character — dealing with the immorality — behind our past wrongs and the harm caused to others as results of wrong attitudes and actions.

For people who like the sound of “We are sick people trying to get well, not bad people trying to become good”, it is now time to identify, comprehend and turn away from the deceptiveness of that kind of temporal or carnal psycho-babble wordplay.  Yes, we are sick people trying to get well, and our sickness to be overcome by taking these Steps is our spiritual sickness (pages 64, 66-67) that has in the past been the selfish, self-willed source of our past immoral or ungodly — harmful to others — attitudes and actions.

Next notice these three objectives we have here before us on the table:
Admitted to God the exact nature of our wrongs;
Admitted to ourselves (oneself) the exact nature of our wrongs;
Admitted to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
Does that help clarify the subject and points of this Step?  We have in the past had certain views of ourselves, typically victims crying for justice and restitution rather than perpetrators seeking mercy and forgiveness, and now the time has come for seeing and knowing ourselves as our Sovereign Creator knows us…

…and to help make that possible (bearable), we are sharing all we have learned so far with a fellow human being who has in his or her own time already been just as fearless, thorough, humble and transparent about these very same spiritual deficiencies.

Are you keeping in mind the overall goal “to fit ourselves to be of maximum service to God and the people about us”?  And, the suggestion of that kind of living comes to us from single-minded people who also share these facts of their common experience:

“…wrecked in the same vessel…restored and united under one God…hearts and minds attuned to the welfare of others…”
“…a common solution…a way out on which we can absolutely agree…join in brotherly and harmonious action…the great news this book carries to those who suffer from alcoholism.” (pages 161, 17)

Ponder all of that for a moment.  The great news we carry, the A.A. message we have for sharing with the next alcoholic is one of complete unity within a fellowship of people who first “admitted complete defeat” and have since, in effect, “been raised from the dead…from the ‘scrap heap’ to a level of life better than the best [we] had ever known!” (page 11)  Who in his or her thereby-transformed mind would ever even think of turning back away from that in favor of a bottle?!  No, “Seemingly he could not drink even if he would.  God had restored his sanity.” (page 57)  Step Five helps bring that about.

Our Basic Text, the A.A. “Big Book”, is all about right worship of our Maker in place of our past worships of self, right views of ourselves in place of all ego or pride and about right fellowship — spiritual fellowship — with others in this world around us.  Having come thus far, we now begin actually getting “Into Action” here at Step Five…

“Be quick to see where religious people are right.
Make use of what they offer.” (page 87)

…and may we all ever yet continue to abandon as much of ourselves as we can possibly know and understand (Steps Four and Ten) to as much of our Maker as we can possibly know and understand (Steps Nine, Ten and Eleven)…and let us all do that together (Step Twelve) for the sake of still others with assurance we each-and-all actually can learn, mature, grow and “endure to the end” together just as our Maker would truly have us.

“Father, my only desire is to delight in you, and to delight only in you.  My past delights in myself and in trying to have things as I would have them only caused trouble for myself and others, so my desire now is to delight in you, and to ever delight only in you.”

Such is the Spirit of Step Five as we now pursue living in complete transparency.

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