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Restaurant Suprise

Dear sponsor,

I had a mishap that came from my failure to plan. I took my mother to her favorite restaurant for her birthday. I have been there before and I know what I get so I planned to eat my typical meal from there, but the menu had changed and my planned item was no longer offered. I started to panic, but then decided to calmly order a sensible meal and stop at that. I would tabulate the calories afterward, and all would be fine. I did as I planned without interrupting dinner or making a scene. The problem came afterward when I entered the supper into my tracker and discovered I was 96 calories over my daily limit, and this even without my normally planned fourth meal, which I skipped to compensate. I needed to report this deviation from my plan of eating, however accidental it may have been, because I cannot allow myself to start excusing this kind of error. Planned meals are the structure that holds up my abstinence, and this made it feel dangerously wobbly.

From now on, planned meals, with a backup plan!

mosaic artisan tableThere is no such thing as a support group for perfect people. Can you imagine one? The preamble might go something like this, “The only requirement for membership in Perfect People Anonymous is a desire to stop being perfect.” I imagine such a meeting would be sparsely attended. If they did exist, perfect people certainly would neither want to stop being that way nor need the support of other perfect people. Why would they? They’re perfect!


Human beings are not drawn to one another because of their common perfection but by their common suffering. Remember back to the last time you were hurting and honestly consider whether you would prefer to hear from a friend for whom the world was all roses and rainbows or from one who had just been through an ugly patch similar to yours? Let’s face it, the Pollyanna approach rarely works on one who is truly suffering. That’s one of the great things about Jesus: He meets us in our condition, troubled or not. Similarly, it is the experience of our own pain that connects us to our purpose. What caused me pain yesterday makes me passionate today, and it is only in my passion that I am of any use to anyone else who is suffering. God created us to be in community, one with another, and it is pain that constitutes the mortar of that structure. Who can comfort a grieving mother like another? Who can best encourage an alcoholic like one recovering from the same affliction? What unites us is our common brokenness. We are a mosaic of broken pieces, all fitting together just as the Creator fashioned us, each jagged edge fitting precisely in the place where He intended.


ICHTHYS trinity mosaicThe desperate cries of all those lonely, angry nights when I shook my fist at God and asked, “Why?” are answered in the faces of those around me who suffer within my arms’ reach. Many are currently experiencing the same pain I have endured and survived. My encouragement may be the only tangible evidence of God’s love to caress them. My testimony may be their only strand of hope. And when I have walked a while alongside a fellow sufferer, I will recognize the hand of God was guiding me even through my darkest valleys, so His purposes could be accomplished. I have experienced pain so I can help others survive it, and point them to the One who holds us all, loves us all, and has a detailed plan to bring us each to completion in Him.


Holy Father, today, may I be a dispenser rather than a consumer. May my life produce for You whatever You designed it to. Deliver me from the idol self-worship of worry and regret, and free me to live according to Your purpose, provision, and protection. I offer You my feeble, faulty will, and I accept Your perfect, holy one for my life. Build into me integrity of soul, that I may no longer be divided by distractions and carnal desires, but would consistently act as Your loyal servant-child for Your glory and purpose, never my own. Help me to put my painful past to good use, that it too might have a purpose; and help me to remember those met opportunities when next a trial must come my way so that, rather than protesting in my doubt, I might obediently submit with the joy of knowing You will supply the opportunity to capitalize the experience for Your glory.


Scripture References:

“He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us” (2 Corinthians 1:4, NLT)

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10, NIV)

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.” (Hebrews 4:15, NIV)

“…He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6, NIV)

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4, NIV)

Thanks for Fear and Pain

hot stoveI was once congratulated by a therapist to whom I had just confessed my suicidal thoughts I had only weeks before. As my mind began to consider ways I might dispose of his body, I managed to sanitize my words enough to ask, “For what?” He told me that everyone who has ever been in despair has considered suicide, but since I did not act on those thoughts and lived to tell about them I deserved to be congratulated. The Thanksgiving holiday can be a tough time for recovering compulsive overeaters like me. So to those of you who maintained your abstinence and even those who merely survived the American holiday most associated with overeating, congratulations!

I was chatting with another recovering compulsive overeater today and it occurred to me that I am a bit of an elitist when it comes to my disease. My sponsor said of me after my first 5th Step that I sounded like “an egomaniac with an inferiority complex.” I’m sure he didn’t coin that phrase. It sounds like Program talk, but it fit me then, and it fits me still. Sometimes during a recovery meeting, I listen to someone who clearly has none of what I want and their ramblings are like fingernails on a chalkboard. I tell myself that, no matter who is talking, I can learn something. Sometimes I hear what I need to do and other times I hear what not to do. It helps me to identify the characteristics of the disease from many viewpoints. To know one’s enemy is to be better prepared to resist his attacks. When I sit in my chair, fold my arms, and decide I have nothing to learn from the one sharing their experience with this disease is the moment I have been deceived by my own. The miserable truth of this disease is that, no matter how far down the scale my body weight has gone, and no matter how many calendars I flip while in recovery, I am still a recovering compulsive overeater, and I need God today just as much as I did when I first read the Twelve Steps. Living them takes work, and the resulting relationship with God and others around me is worth the effort. The physical realities are merely favorable side-effects of recovery.

As I listened recently to a person share about their battle with fear and pain, it occurred to me that we are not battling fear and pain, but cowardice. Recovery is not the absence of fear or pain, but the God-built ability to live around them rather than in reaction to them. Courage is the ability to disregard fear in preference of a right action, and cowardice is our self-serving habit of reacting according to fear and pain. Analgesia, the inability to sense pain, is considered a debilitating disorder, and I imagine the inability to sense fear or danger would have even more dramatic consequences. Imagine not being cautious when crossing a street or railroad tracks, treading on elevated structures without regard to their boundaries, or gratifying every selfish desire or impulse free of any cares about harming self or others. For me that includes eating the whole gingerbread house without guarding against the monster that lay in wait inside it. I embrace my fear. Fear of relapse keeps me in Program just like fear of abandonment keeps me monogamous and fear of burns keeps my hand off a burning stove. Pain is the experience that leads to fear. I might not know to keep my hands away from hot stoves were it not for my previous encounters with them. I guess that is why I am fascinated by the stories of those who have come and gone from the rooms of recovery – I need to develop a healthy fear of straying from this path. I need to remember that I can learn from the mistakes of others without having to experience it myself. And I need to remember that, no matter how far I’ve come, I haven’t come so far that I don’t need to bow my knee to the One who created me and let Him have the throne of my life every single day.

Yesterday, I shared with a group of my local church congregation that I still have issues with being disgusted with my body. The empty skin folds that remain after losing 150 pounds are mostly concealed by my clothing, but I know they are there. I wear them like the chains of Marley’s ghost, permanent reminders of the harms I have done in my past and that I am merely one bite from relapsing into indulging my junk-food addiction. One of my precious friends directed me to a song, which I am happy to share here. It was exactly what I needed.

That’s What Scars are For, by Mandisa

Off plan on purpose

Dear Sponsor,

I am deviating from my plan of eating because I am sick with some sort of stomach bug. I am not at risk of overeating, but I thought you should know that I am eating less than normal. I’ve actually been afraid to eat after spending the night camping on the bathroom floor last night. I have a low-grade fever, but I am much better than I was last night.

It’s been uncomfortable to say the least.



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