The 4th Step—How do I get RID of resentments?
Have you ever noticed those two little paragraphs tucked in the middle of the 4th step that talk about prayer on page 67? I think they seem to be way overlooked. I know I overlooked them for a long time and never incorporated them into doing a 4th step for a long time either. I never understood why they were there but I thought it was just some prayers that I could use when I got angry with someone in the future. Thank the Lord that we all grow and change in this program and we don’t have to know everything all at once. I’m grateful that I can see this now and it has revolutionized the way I deal with resentments and the 4th step.
Following the directions in the Big Book to do the 4th step, we are instructed to write down the people that we believe have wronged us and to write the cause and what it affected in us. THEN it says “We turned back to the list, for it held the key to the future.” The last two sentences say: “We saw that these resentments must be mastered, but how? We could not wish them away any more than alcohol.” I love this part and how the Big Book always addresses the problem and then gives us the solution. So now that we have these resentments on paper how were we going to master them.
The next two paragraphs give us the solution. It says that we had to realize they were perhaps spiritually sick also and then it says. “We asked God to help us show them the same tolerance, pity, and patience that we would cheerfully grant a sick friend. When a person offended we said to ourselves, “This is a sick man. How can I be helpful to him? God save me from being angry. Thy will be done.”
Right in the middle of the 4th step after the list of injuries and offenses has been written, we are told to pray for them. BEFORE we write down anything else, we are to realize they are perhaps spiritually sick and ask God for 3 things. 1. Help us show them tolerance, pity and patience. 2. Save us from being angry. 3 Show us how we may be helpful to him.
This is how we are able in the next paragraph to put our of our minds the wrongs others had done and look for our own mistakes. Its really hard to refer to the list again like the book says and see where we are at fault when our mind is still wrapped up in all the things we believe they have done to us. I’ve seen many people get stuck right here because they can’t see their part but can only see how their anger is justified. Their mind is still reliving those hurts. That’s where the power of God comes in and that’s why Step 3 comes before Step 4. We can’t wish our resentments away and it says that in the book, Just like we couldn’t wish our alcohol problem away either. What was the solution with the alcohol? We asked God for help and that is the solution with the resentments as well. We have to have God’s help and so after we make our list of people and offenses we look back at the list and pray for each of them. After a time of prayer it becomes easier to see where we were at fault and what could we have done better.