Step 4: We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
14 We know that the Law is spiritual, but I’m made of flesh and blood, and I’m sold as a slave to sin. 15 I don’t know what I’m doing, because I don’t do what I want to do. Instead, I do the thing that I hate. 16 But if I’m doing the thing that I don’t want to do, I’m agreeing that the Law is right. 17 But now I’m not the one doing it anymore. Instead, it’s sin that lives in me. 18 I know that good doesn’t live in me—that is, in my body. The desire to do good is inside of me, but I can’t do it. 19 I don’t do the good that I want to do, but I do the evil that I don’t want to do. 20 But if I do the very thing that I don’t want to do, then I’m not the one doing it anymore. Instead, it is sin that lives in me that is doing it.
21 So I find that, as a rule, when I want to do what is good, evil is right there with me. 22 I gladly agree with the Law on the inside, 23 but I see a different law at work in my body. It wages a war against the law of my mind and takes me prisoner with the law of sin that is in my body. 24 I’m a miserable human being. Who will deliver me from this dead corpse? 25 Thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then I’m a slave to God’s Law in my mind, but I’m a slave to sin’s law in my body. Romans 7:14-25, CEB
Secrets are like mushrooms. They eat poop and thrive in the dark. Our secrets really have power when they’re secrets, when they’re kept in the dark. The moral inventory forces us to confront this darkness. We haven’t put it out in the open yet, but we’re confronted with the reality of the darkness. We have to name it and own it. I think we can be rather fearless about this because we know that the darkness is the thing that allows our secrets/pasts/misdeeds to continue to have power over us. Obviously, this is easier said than done. Who isn’t afraid of seeing a huge list of their misdeeds sitting before them on a piece of paper? Who? Who? Nobody!
Alright, alright. Composing myself. It helps me to sort of rationalize my way through things. If I can understand the what and why of an action, then I can embrace it. Knowing that I’m taking the power away from the things on my moral inventory, then I can accept and embrace them. They don’t have to be fully brought to light in order to be stripped of their power. When I acknowledge, accept, and embrace myself and the things I’ve done, then I am not a slave to my moral inventory. As we look at the last few verses here, we don’t see a man perpetually tortured by his moral inventory. We see a man who has a sense of the larger picture. He has a moral inventory, but he’s also a lot more than that. His identity is more than a list of his past actions.
The same is true for us. Proceed with your list-making boldly. Accept yourself, and shame will lose its grip.