In observance of my Benedictine Monastic practices, on the last Friday of each month in 2019 we’re walking Saint Benedict’s 12 Steps of Humility. With each step we come closer to our spiritual transformation and the perfect love of God.

The fifth step of humility is that we do not conceal from our spiritual advisor any sinful thoughts entering our hearts, or any wrongs committed in secret, but rather confess them humbly. ~ The Rule of Benedict

Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. ~ James 5:16


We are not designed to carry our heavy emotional burdens alone. Whether it’s concerning past mistakes or current struggles; we need to share our burdens with another person.

God put us in a community of like minded people who can help us. Our challenge is to be radically honest with ourselves and recognize when we need to reach out to a trusted friend or counselor.

Sometimes we shy from confessing our problems to others.  We think that if we open up to another person and they see the “real me” that they won’t like us any more. If we have carefully chosen a trusted friend, counselor or minister we can be sure they will use godly love and wisdom to help us.

Often answers and even healing comes as we are sharing. I’ve found on more than one occasion that as I was sharing my problem with someone the needed answer quickened to my spirit and after the session ended I felt physically lightened of that burden.

Saint Benedict knew the path to humility requires pure honesty. Humility calls us to truthfully bring to light whatever is hidden deep in our heart. These may be things that we’re even in denial to ourselves about. This is where a Christian counselor or minister can help. They can talk, pray and work us through these challenging areas to bring about the needed healing and restoration.

If you are struggling with any serious burdens or emotional wounds don’t hesitate to reach out to your local church or Christian counseling center.

Take a few moments to contemplate issues you may need to work through with a trusted friend or counselor as you listen to this beautiful song by Francesca Battistelli.

The 12 Principles of Recovery :: OPENNESS


Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of or wrongs.


How do I trust?

Addicts have a sordid history with trust issues. We’ve trusted people we shouldn’t have. We didn’t trust people we should have. We violated our own values. We invaded other people’s space. We didn’t do what we said we would. We weren’t faithful to our partner. We kept secrets. We didn’t trust ourselves. We weren’t trustworthy. 

Most of us were deprived of bonding with our parents as young children causing us to feel unworthy. The ability to trust is closely linked to feeling wanted and having a sense of belonging. 

Even after nine years in recovery I still struggle. Maybe not every day or even every week, but when the struggles come they sometimes hit hard. One thing that has made the biggest difference over these years is having a trusted friend with whom I can share my challenges. 

It’s most important to find a friend or mentor with whom we can share our pain. We must seek out a fellowship community or recovery group where we can make trusted friends. There we can begin to bond, open up and heal. 

Learning how to trust others isn’t a quick process. We’ve had bad examples most of our lives so we will need to walk this path slowly. When sharing our story we must not over share but yet not hide things God is trying to bring into the light where the healing can start.

When we honestly ask ourselves which [people] in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness that is a friend who cares. ~ Henri Nouwen **


A Gentle Path through the Twelve Principles: Living the Values Behind the Steps by Patrick Carnes **

Copyright: pinkstudio / 123RF Stock Photo

12 Steps of Humility :: ACKNOWLEDGING OUR FAULTS


The ladder is our life on earth, if we humble our heart God will raise it to heaven. ~ St Benedict

THE FIFTH STEP OF HUMILITY: a monk should not conceal from her abbess any evil thoughts entering her heart or any wrongs committed in secret, but rather confess them humbly.  

Centuries before the psychology industry built their fortunes on our troubles Benedict of Nursia knew the power of confessing to a spiritual guide or mentor.

One of the most difficult things to do is to admit our faults to another person. But as long as we keep our wrongs hidden they have a hold on us. The recovery community says, “We are only as sick as our secrets.” 

We destroy ourselves by failing to confess the germ of greed, ambition, anger, and lust at the very moment it is growing in our hearts. We give ourselves life by working through our problems with the wisdom figures in our lives who are stronger at that moment than ourselves. ~ Joan Chittister**

Declaring our faults aloud begins the healing process. Once we do share them we can forgive ourselves, begin new behavior and let the past go.

Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.” And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone. ~ Psalm 32:5

Lord, remind me that when I refuse to confess my faults to you I am miserable. But when I stop trying to hide them, you are quick to forgive and all my guilt is gone! AMEN

The Rule of Saint Benedict Edited by Timothy Fry O.S.B
Twelve Steps to Inner Freedom: Humility Revisited by Joan D. Chittister**
The Twelve Steps of Humility and Pride by Bernard of Clairvaux
Living in the Truth: Saint Benedict’s Teaching on Humility by Michael Casey
St. Benedict’s Toolbox by Jane Tomaine
15 Days of Prayer with Saint Benedict by Andre Gozier, O.S.B.
Finding Sanctuary: Monastic Steps for Everyday Life by Abbot Christopher Jamison

Image credit: icetray / 123RF Stock Photo

The Road to Recovery :: STEP 5

In The Road to Recovery column we’re working the Eight Principles of Celebrate Recovery that are based on Beatitudes and the traditional 12 Steps of Recovery as they align with the monthly calendar.

STEP FIVE: We admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. 

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. ~ James 5:16

PRINCIPLE FOUR (Celebrate Recovery): Openly examine and confess my faults to myself, to God and to someone I trust. 

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” ~ Matthew 5:8

We’ve lived a life of secrets and lies, denying the truth of the pain we were causing to ourselves and to those we love. It’s time for the lies to stop and for truth to prevail. And often times the truth hurts.

In Step Four we began the process of coming clean by writing our spiritual and moral inventory. Now it’s time for the rubber to meet the road. All our baggage, the good, the bad and the ugly, is going to come off the page and into real life as we share inventory aloud with another person.
Step Five consists of three parts: admitting to God, to ourselves and to another human being. Each part adds a new dimension, a deeper level of intensity to our confession; one reverential, the next personal and finally the painful reality. Let’s look at each level.
ADMITTING WRONGS TO GOD allows us some distance from our wrongs, a sense of objectivity that keeps us from feeling too much pain. However, there may be a time during our confession when words can’t express our feelings. We may need to allow the Holy Spirit to take our prayer of confession from the sounds and groans of our pain. 
ADMITTING WRONGS TO OURSELVES seems redundant after having just written them down in Step Four.  But repeating the inventory, this time out loud to ourselves, helps cement our confession. This brings home the truth of what we’ve done and what we are capable of doing to our prideful ego. 
ADMITTING WRONGS TO ANOTHER HUMAN BEING is probably the most painful and even embarrassing part of Step Five. While there is no perfect way to work this step the most important thing is the trustworthiness of our confessor. Whomever we choose, we must make certain this person will never use what we tell them against us. We can’t make our confession unless and until we feel safe.
During this painful process we can look forward to the freedom we will feel after unloading our long carried burdens. We can rest assured the Biblical promise of healing will come after confessing our sins. And having shared our personal inventory with another person we will gain the support which frees us from our sense of isolation, our false pride, and denial. 

Lord, my inventory has shown me who I am, yet I ask for your help in admitting my wrongs to another person and to you. Assure me, and be with me in this step, for without this step I cannot progress in my recovery. With Your help, I can do this and I will. 

Show me who can hear my confession and not hurt me.
Show me who can stand my story and not condemn.
Show me who can listen and honestly care.
Show me who can be a human being and still show mercy.**

Click here for The Road to Recovery theme song.


**Prayers for the Twelve Steps: A Spiritual Journey
Celebrate Recovery Bible
Recovery: The Twelve Steps as Spiritual Practice by Rami Shapiro
The Twelve Steps for Christians

Working the Steps : STEP 5

Step 5: 

Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. 

This step is probably one of the most challenging. It’s one thing to take our moral inventory in Step 4, but it’s quite another to admit our wrongs to another person. While living an addictive lifestyle, we’ve gotten very good at keeping secrets, hiding our shame in lies and denial. Now it’s time to come clean with God, ourselves and another human being. 

Here are some tips to help with each area of Step 5…

Admitting wrongs to God:
It’s easy to justify not really working this part because after all, doesn’t God know everything I did already? Yes, that’s true. But not the point. We need to sit down and have a personal conversation with God, using our listed inventory from Step 4 if necessary. But more importantly, be open and honest about the things we did, that caused harm to ourselves and others, directly to God. It will probably be emotional, but that’s part of the healing.

Admitting wrongs to ourselves:
OK, didn’t I do this when I wrote out my inventory? Yes, and no. Most likely your inventory was taken in silence, with pencil and paper. This work needs to be audible. Sit down in front of a mirror, looking at yourself, going through the inventory list, honestly admit to yourself the wrongs done. If you’re anything like me, dealing with myself in the mirror is always painful. But often pain comes before healing.

Admitting wrongs to another human being:
The first two parts of Step 5 were rough, but this one is the clincher. Start first by carefully choosing a trustworthy person who won’t use your past against you. Find someone dependable, who will provide unconditional acceptance and not be shock or offended by what your reveal. When you’re comfortable with the person, sharing will be that much easier. Refrain from unnecessary detailed explanations. 

Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.~ James 5:16

You make be tempted to procrastinate on this painful step. Don’t. The sooner you get Step 5 behind you, the faster you’ll be on the road to full and complete healing. Don’t hesitate to email me if you have questions. 

Also, here are some excellent resources:

Life Recovery Bible
The Twelve Steps for Christians 
Recovery: The Twelve Steps as Spiritual Practice
The Solid Rock Road

Take it Step by Step with @Bryan_Duncan http://youtu.be/swNgb9ya6WM

Coming in May on Reaching Hurting Women!


Working the Steps: Step 5 
Having taken our moral inventory in April, it’s now time to admit the exact nature of our wrongs to ourselves, God and another person.

This month’s book review:  Restoring Sexual Identity by Anne Paulk  
Do you or someone you know struggle with unwanted same-sex attraction? Anne Paulk answers the most commonly asked questions from both homosexuals desiring change and friends and relatives of women struggling with same sex attraction

Virtues ~n~ Vices :: INTEGRITY  
Admitting wrongs to others is tough. So is standing up to your past and stepping out of an unwanted lifestyle. Let’s talk about what it means to live a life of integrity.

Healing Hurts :: Personal Identity Crisis
Do you find yourself asking, “What is my purpose in life?” Women are dizzy with doubt about who they are and what they’re supposed to do with their life. Let’s work through this tough time of life together.

Are You Hiding Behind Your Baggage?
We all have baggage from our past. But when we hide behind it instead of taking the next step to grow, we limit ourselves, our relationships and our future.

See these articles accented by some beautiful praise and worship music on Reaching Hurting Women in May! 

Photos courtesy 123rf.com

Working the Steps: Step 5

Step 5

We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

I think this step for me was one of the most challenging. Getting to the place where I could openly discuss all the terrible things I did was really hard. The shame attached to my behaviors was very painful and could have easily given me an excuse to not follow through. Fortunately, I worked this step with a wonderful Christian counselor, so it was a little easier than it could have been with someone else.

If we have properly worked Step 4 we have a balanced inventory of not only our mistakes but our strengths as well. This will provide a good foundation on which to build our recovery. In preparing for Step 5 schedule some uninterrupted time with God to prayerfully search for the person with whom you will share your inventory. Admitting our wrongs to ourselves is one thing but sharing them with another human being is quite another. We have worked very hard in our addiction to hide these truths from others so this will be a huge step towards healing. Step 5 is our path out of isolation and loneliness toward healing and peace. It is very humbling to get past the pretending and to reveal our true selves to someone else. Telling our story to others can be a frightening experience and may cause fear of rejection. But it is essential that we take the risk and confess our wrongs. God will give us the courage if we lean on Him.

One of my favorite recovery resources The Twelve Steps for Christians has some great insights for working Step 5 that I would like to share with you.

  • Begin with prayer. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in what you are about to experience.
  • Choose your 5th Step listener carefully. Find someone who is accepting, patient, sympathetic and understanding. Possibly a clergyman, counselor, another Twelve Step member, trusted friend or family member.
  • We are only asked to admit the nature of our wrongs. Don’t discuss how the wrongs came about or how changes will be made. You are not seeking advice.
  • After completing your fifth step, take time to pray and reflect on what you have done. Thank God for the tools you’ve been given to improve your relationship with Him. A cornerstone in your relationship with God is you commitment to honesty and humility.
  • Congratulate yourself for having the courage to risk self-disclosure and thank God for the peace of mind you have achieved.

Having admitted our wrongs to another human being is no guarantee that we will not slip up again. But we have the assurance, in those moments of weakness, that God will be with us and give us the strength to overcome. If we truly want to change God will continue to give us the courage and the strength to persevere down the path of sobriety to wholeness and healing in Jesus Christ.

Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results. –James 5:16