One of the most important tasks in RV living is dumping the waste. Beneath our unit is a black water holding tank. Every time we flush our waste goes into that tank until we empty it each week. If we forget, well, it really stinks!
For those of us in recovery, dumping our emotional waste is vital. Many of us crammed anger, resentment, and fear into our tanks for years without flushing. Instead we just poured alcohol, drugs, food, work, or whatever our obsession was on top, hoping that our problems would just dissolve. Imagine sprinkling Pine Sol into an overflowing toilet!
In the fourth step we learn to identify our poop. We begin by listing our resentments. This is followed by a list of the causes and how we were affected. We realize that our fears and resentments have made us spiritually sick. It is like reading the monitor panel in the RV that tells us when our tank is full.
But we don’t stop there—we must look at our part! Regarding each resentment we write honestly how we have been selfish, dishonest, self-seeking, and fearful.
In the fifth step we flush. We admit to ourselves, to God, and to another person the nature of our wrongs. If we don't cleanse our tank we will remain sick. Without the fifth step flush we are hanging onto all of our excuses for drinking and drugging again. The stench in our hearts often becomes too difficult to bear without numbing it with substances. Almost without exception, everyone I've known who has relapsed did so before they completed steps four and five.
I do not believe this is mere coincidence. Without this cleansing process we have no tools to cope with the difficulties of life in a fallen world. We must dump our old behaviors to make room for the new attitudes and behaviors that we will learn as we continue through the steps. Having a trusted person, such as a sponsor, carefully and prayerfully take us through this step illuminates our former wrong way of thinking. It's like the little plastic section of pipe that we have attached to our sewer hose. It allows us to see what is coming out!
1 John 1:9 ESV
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
At this point, I suppose I should apologize for discussing poop and quoting scripture in the same passage, but in Isaiah 64:6 our deeds are compared to filthy rags, so I don't think I'm too far off.
There is only on person, Jesus Christ, who can permanently dispose of our imperfect waste, but until we meet him face to face, we can help each other.