As Brigham Young said, “the greatest lesson you can learn is to know yourself.”. Step four is all about getting to know yourself. Through step four you identify characteristics, thoughts, behaviors, relationships, and events that make us who we are. We must do it with complete honesty, free from judgment, accepting ourselves as we are so we can make decisions about who we want to become. Until we know exactly where we are we cannot know where we are headed.
For many people, working through step four is very intimidating for many reasons, including where to even start, how to do it and quite frankly, honestly facing themselves and admitting their weaknesses. But I want to point out that even though part of step four is about identifying mistakes, weaknesses, or harmful thought patterns, it is also about recognizing strengths, seeing God’s hand in our lives, and knowing what we have done right.
To start step four, I chose to write a biographical sketch of my life. This was one of the first assignments in the handbook. My first thoughts were I could spend months writing my life history so I prayed about it and asked Heavenly Father to help me write and recall what was important for me to write to get to know myself. I just started with as early as I could remember and wrote a general overview of my life and when I chronologically came to a big event I wrote in more detail. I have since remembered other things and added to this but I feel Heavenly Father helped me write what I needed to and once I started it was not as difficult as I had Imagined. I then read through it focusing on what my strengths were and highlighted them in one color and made a list. (I identified strengths that have given me encouragment to get through this trial and be able to believe in myself). Then I went through and highlighted with another color and made a list of times I could see Heavenly Father’s hand in my life. (when I read with that focus I found Heavenly Father had beenwith me much more than I had realized and it strengthened my faith in him). I then went through focusing on. Intakes I had made that has affected my life, my friends, my self esteem, my fears, etc. Of course, I can review this history searching for any specific thing I want and as long as I am honest with myself and free from judgement, rationalization, justification, fear,etc. I learn a lot about myself. The interesting thing is, by doing this prayerfully the Lord helps me not beat myself up for my mistakes but rather I feel a growing desire to be better.
I have to admit that initially I had a hard time focusing on me because I was still focusing too much on my husband and his mistakes and behaviors. It took a very diligent effort and a lot of prayer to focus on myself and it didn’t come quickly and in fact I learn things about myself everyday as I am ready and willing to see myself clearly. I can say without a doubt I have been much more happy focusing on myself rather than my husband. I can’t change him but I can me, so the efforts are actually getting me somewhere. I know what I think and feel but I don’t completely know my husband’s thoughts and feelings; again proving focusing on myself is much more effective. I have also learned that focusing on myself and seeing my weaknesses helps me be more forgiving and loving towards my husband. I have become less judgmental and taken myself off my little pedestal I had myself on compared to him. The peace and healing that comes is very difficult to explain but I do know that everyone can learn for themselves what I am talking about and it is well worth the effort. I can also say it is very rewarding to see myself become a better person and my husband notices changes and comments on them which makes me feel good about myself. As we each are working to become better our relationship gets stronger.
A friend once shared a lesson she was taught that a marriage is like a triangle with the husband and wife and the bottom corners and Christ at the top. The husband and wife cannot get any closer together by themselves. The only way they get closer is by each of them getting closer to Christ and as they do so, the gap between the spouses becomes smaller and smaller and they become closer together as they draw closer to Christ. I believe this is very true and also believe I can only move myself closer to Christ and my husband has to move himself so it is critical I do my part.