The events of our past, both the good and the bad, have affected us and those we love. Our hurts, choices, resentments and fears can often be traced back to childhood memories. It takes courage to dig into our past to discover the source of our hurts, hang-ups and habits.
A young mother who had been working on her two preschoolers’ scrapbooks during their nap times finally decided that the project was complete. Now she felt ready to tackle a task that had been nagging at her for some time. She wanted to search through her parents’ photographs and begin to document her family history for her children. As she sifted through the photo albums, though, she began to experience some confusing emotions.
She quickly noticed that the photographs taken during the early years of her and her brothers’ childhoods were creatively arranged in the albums. But when she realized that there were years not represented by any photographs, she felt sad. There were, for instance, no snapshots representing the two years of her parents’ separation. Then she discovered albums in which the photographs were once again carefully arranged, showcasing the happier remaining years after the reconciliation of the marriage. She began smiling over these pictures, reminding herself that the happier years were of longer duration than the unhappy ones.
Someone in a family typically chronicles its history by lovingly arranging photographs in an album. However, if a family begins to fall apart, the visual record often stops. This isn’t a conscious decision; it’s just that no one wants to document the demise of something they love. It may be years before regular photos begin again to recount the life of the family. Photographs fill every page of the album, so the gap is hardly noticeable as a blurred seam marks the “before” and “after” of some unfortunate rift in a family’s story.
Many of us have gaps in our photo albums that represent dark periods in our personal histories. Or maybe we don’t have an album at all. Now is the time to look at our past, both the good and the bad times, and to start our Celebrate Recovery inventory. It’s time for us to invite others in the program to walk with us through this important part of our journey.
Principle Four states: “Openly examine and confess my faults to myself, to God and to someone I trust.” In this principle we complete our “moral inventory.” The word moral scares some people, but the term here simply means “honest.”
As we prepare to work this principle, we’re ready to begin the growth process of recovery. Principle Four may carry with it some growing pains. It’s natural for us to wish we could escape altogether the pain of our past by skirting it or jumping over it. But the only way to truly rid ourselves of that pain is to work through it—while avoiding the temptation to get stuck in it. It has been said that “we need to use our past as a springboard, not a sofa—a guidepost, not a hitching post.”
Some people spend their lives rationalizing the past, complaining about the present and fearing the future. They, of course, aren’t moving forward on the road to recovery. By working Principle Four we’ve chosen to continue on a forward course by beginning the process of coming clean. We’re going after the years of “truth decay.” We begin to chip away at and clean out the “plaque” that has built up over the years and has kept us from really seeing the truth about our past and present situations.
As you begin to fill in the missing pictures from your life, be sure to keep your moral inventory balanced by listing both the good and the bad aspects of your life.
Throughout the process, hold on to the promise of Joshua 1:9:
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.
Take a Look:
• Are there years missing in the scrapbook of your life? What was going on during that time?
• What are your fears about doing a moral inventory?
• Do you have a support team to guide and encourage you as you complete your moral inventory? Who are these individuals?
• What does Joshua 1:9 mean to you as you begin to complete your inventory?