Step 5: Confession and Spilled Paint

An early need for confession came while my mom and dad were out. Against their wishes, my siblings and I had taken out some enamel paints and were playing with and opening them in the living room. When we spilled the paints, I remember a scramble to conceal the stains. They were pretty bad. Our initial attempt to wipe it up was really just to stay out of trouble by pretending we never did anything wrong and ended up only spreading the paint wider and deeper. I believe we put a box over the carpet near our entryway to hide them.


We must have looked quite guilty and we didn’t handle our confession well. My parents initially realized something was wrong when they overheard one of us say, “Mom and Dad are going to kill us!” And yes, this was a springboard for further discussion.

Simple, honest confession is powerful. In recovery meetings we joy with those who find addiction losing its grip who speak with a confident smile, but the whole room resonates with the Spirit when a member says, “Actually, it’s been a really rough week… I need help.” The compassion and concern is palpable and weak hearts are touched and remade.

We hold nothing back in confession to priesthood leaders who represent the Lord because we know the Lord held nothing back to save us.

A person declaring bankruptcy must be thorough in disclosing all assets and debts. Anything not in the disclosure is not protected by the bankruptcy and becomes subject to the creditor’s demands. Satan makes these demands, accusing us before the throne of God night and day. It is he who would love us NOT to make a full disclosure because he knows mercy cannot be extended without sincere repentance. He doesn’t want us free of his grip.

Heartfelt confession shows the Lord we are more concerned about what He thinks than what people around us think.

24 Shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captive delivered?

25 But thus saith the Lord, Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered (Isaiah 49)

One application of this scripture is surely for one who repents.

Confessing what holds us back from the Lord’s mercies breaks Satan’s grip. Waiting only makes it worse… Welcome to Step 5


Step 4: Undigging the Truth

My parents took a once in a lifetime visit to Greece while I was just a child. While visiting the small village of Davia where my grandfather grew up, they commented that they saw very few basements.  Relatives explained that people are hesitant to excavate because it might turn up artifacts, which could warrant a life and home-disruptive archeological dig. The excitement of finding an ancient treasure was overwhelmed by the fear of what it could mean for their well-being.


In contrast, Step 4 recognizes that full moral recovery requires fearless and careful digging into the sensitive sediment of our lives. The purpose is to unearth the events and decisions that make up the moral underpinnings of our life until we can see the very foundation stones of who we are. The action required in Step 4 is to write a searching and fearless moral inventory of your life.

This is called the “Truth” step: finding the truth of who we really are.


The purpose of Step 4 is not to increase our shame, though we will likely find things we are ashamed of. It is to invite the Lord, the master builder to inspect our foundation so that when we find cracks and imperfections we can’t fix (and none of us can alone), we will have His reassurance that He can. Done correctly, a moral inventory will show us not only a moral failings, but also victories through a pattern of tender mercies.


I once had a dream where my home needed some reconstruction. A son began digging under an existing room to a depth that would create a whole new basement room. Floorboards were torn up in the process exposing warped wood and poor plumbing. I was surprised to see parents, church members, friends, family and my bishop become involved, giving surprising advice and adding their hands to the labor. My somewhat passable house was quickly becoming a beautiful, strong, regulated structure.

Don’t be surprised that if you turn your life over to the Savior, that He will not just apply wallpaper to cover over your sins. He is able to completely remove them and change our very heart.  To those of you who say, like I did, “I have faith in God, that he has all power and can make me clean, but I don’t have faith in me.” I tell you that you are a son or daughter of God and he did not send you here to fail.

Take this step. You will know the truth of that statement and the truth will set you free.