Focus On The Log In Your Own Eye
Step 4: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
If you grew up in an environment like I did, this step might bring up some bad memories of a childhood wrought with self-loathing and guilt.
However, the purpose of this step is not to beat yourself up or to create an even louder inner critic judging you for all you have done wrong, but rather it serves as the entry point of honest transformation.
“Moral scrutiny is not to discover whether you are right or bad and regain moral high ground but to begin some honest “shadow boxing,” which is the heart of all spiritual awakening. Yes, the truth will set you free as Jesus said, but first, it will make you miserable.” — Richard Rohr
In the past, looking at your blinds spots may have brought about a profound sense of self-hatred and guilt. I completely understand.
It will feel this way at first, but the difference between the guilt that comes with so many religious institutions and an honest, moral inventory of yourself is that the latter is done with the confidence that you are held by a Greater Love who knows that you are Essentially Good at your core. It is aLove that does not judge, but instead wants to use these blind spots for your own transformation.
God does not waste anything by destroying “evil,” but transforms it into something beautiful.
It is in the empty spaces, in your darkness, that a Higher Power can captivate your attention and radically change and heal. This is why all great prophets spoke about the power of living a simple life and believed that it was the poor who would be able to first enter the “kingdom of God,” here and now, not in the afterlife.
This is because those who are poor or oppressed or in suffering know the darkness better and are more willing to open up to a power greater than themselves. For them, the “system” hasn’t worked and they are forced to find the One that does.
It is in the darkness that God meets you.
In my opinion, the goal of the spiritual journey is not to be the most morally perfect or to attend the most church services or even to “convert” the most followers. The goal is to encounter the divine presence in your “shadow self” and learn the wisdom it has to teach.
The goal is union. That is it.
It is so simple that we humans tried to complicate it and hide it behind rituals, rules, and regulations. But if that was the Truth that all of the great wisdom teachers proclaimed, how would that be any different than the economy of merit and consumption we already live in?
No, the power of the spiritual life is the opposite. It is an economy of grace, and it is for everyone and it is cannot be earned, but only received.
Have you ever noticed that the most spiritual and light-filled among us have often gone through the most painful of experiences?
The man who barely survived cancer gives up everything and becomes a spiritual teacher.
The woman whose husband leaves her for another woman bounces back with an energy and love that is unlike anything you have ever seen.
A business person breaks down after years of long hours and neglected self-worth, only to find deep meaning in the simple life running a coffee shop.
As Father Rohr states so eloquently, “only the soul knows that we grow best in the Shadowlands. We are blinded by total light or total darkness, but Light shines on in the darkness, and it is a Light that darkness cannot overcome (John 1:5).”
It is here, trapped in your own form of addiction, that you are finally able to surrender and receive the deep Love and Grace that is “overflowing.”
It is usually only after suffering that a person comes to know Truth, or at least that was the case for my own life. After years of struggling with my own inner demons, I finally came to a point where I had to surrender to a Higher Power, if I ever wanted to live a vibrant, joy-filled life.
It is hard to accept that you are complicit in your struggle. To recognize that maybe there is a deeply subconscious longing to stay where you are, because of its familiarity and own form of comfort.
It is easier to blame the “other” for our problems rather than owning them. This is seen clearly in a Jesus story where he tells the listener to first take the “log out of your own eye” before worrying about the splinter in the eye of another.
What step four does so well is humble you into understanding that you were a part of your downfall. Not with the objective of beating yourself up, but to open your wounds and allow the Light in. Because it is only then that total and complete healing can take place.
As the ancient Sufi Mystic Rumi said, “the wound is the place that the Light enters you.”
Anything exposed to Light itself will become Light
Being brutally honest about your wounds does not have to lead to self-hatred. It can be the place of true transformation if done in accordance with a Higher Power.
For the God of the biblical tradition is known for transforming our evils into our own perfect good.
God even uses our biggest weaknesses in our benefit.
Let’s Fall Inward, Shall We
Do you define yourself as someone who is spiritual but not religious?
If so, you are not alone.
Sign up for my daily email on contemplative spirituality and join over thousands of seekers who are Falling Inward to [re]discover the power of within.
Click the image below to sign up.
It’s Free and Free(ing)!