As I work on Step 8, I noticed it is like another inventory, similar to step 4, but instead of an inventory of my inner self, I'm making an inventory of things outside of myself. "Making a thorough inventory of our resentments & acknowledging them to our Savior." It's about honestly letting go of offenses that have made me embarrassed, uncomfortable, or ashamed in any way.
I used to get a little confused with what the difference was between steps 4 and 5 and steps 8 and 9. This time around I'm actually seeing how they are a little different but they are also the same for a reason. As I contemplated the wisdom in taking the steps in order, I began to realize the main goal that we reach for when taking these steps.
The steps work from the inside out, much like that quote from Step 6: "The Lord works from the inside out. The world works from the outside in. The world would take people out of the slums. Christ takes the slums out of the people, and then they take themselves out of the slums. The world would mold men by changing their environment. Christ changes men, who then change their environment. The world would shape human behavior, but Christ can change human nature...May we be convinced that Jesus is the Christ, choose to follow Him, be changed for Him, captained by Him, consumed by Him, and born again." (Ezra Taft Benson in Conference Report, Oct. 1985, 5-6; or Ensign, Nov. 1985, 6-7).
In Steps 1, 2, and 3, we are internally submitting to the Lord and making personal decisions with the Lord to trust and follow Him. Step 4 is my self evaluation where I examine my internal attitudes and intents, and Step 5 puts that into greater light by bringing it out where someone else can see it. Step 6 and 7 are about reviewing steps 1, 2, and 3 at a deeper and even more personal and life-changing level. Submitting even more to the Lord's will and changing our hearts so we are really becoming His. Then in steps 8 and 9, we are evaluating the external effects from my behaviors or how others have been impacted, then bringing that into greater light for other people to see and forgive.
Then we get to the fun part. Step 10 takes all of Steps 1-9, wraps them up and says "Do this every day." PHEW!
Then Step 11 adds the Lord's guidance and direction in again, to keep you always following His will every day.
And Step 12 is the continuation of the process with the addition of sharing testimony to support and guide others' efforts and be a missionary to bring others to the Savior in this life-changing way.
For the first time, I am completely grasping the goal from using the steps: To incorporate the repentance process into our daily lives in a genuine and heartfelt way so we then no longer take weeks to go through these baby steps, but can develop this as a new-found habit to turn to the Savior immediately, take responsibility for our actions, and return to His way.
That really does take a complete change of heart. That is why these steps work. That is why after we have taken steps 1-12 truly to heart and really applied these things to our lives, we have had a spiritual awakening, and can completely heal and change into a true disciple of Christ. The steps work.