I am a recovering compulsive overeater, abstinent by the grace of God one more* day at a time. †
It’s back to work today! I’m glad too. I matter to the world a whole lot less when I am cooped up in the house, and the weather the last few days has had me under its thumb. It will be good to get out in it. Outdoors is where I can best “love all and harm none.”
From today’s entry in Voices of Recovery:
“Real humility about our character defects carries with it acceptance.” — The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous, p. 61
I don’t know about the rest of the world, but most of my defects come from my fear of inadequacy. I realize I am not what I want to be, so I behave in ways that might make me appear to be something I am not – greater, smarter, more powerful. The masquerade only harms me and those around me. Coming to believe that my value comes from God and not my behavior frees me to behave genuinely according to that relationship, rather than out of my doubt, fear, and shame. Acceptance is recognizing that I was made perfectly, and though I have soiled myself in my folly, my Creator still values me and eagerly awaits His opportunity to wash me off, put new clothes on me, and spend time with me while He walks me through the rest of my life. I was so afraid of God, of the soap, the water and the scrub brush, that I hid and pretended I wasn’t dirty. I believe humility is the willingness to accept that I am dirty, present myself before the One who can clean me up, and to stand still enough to let Him love me, even as the mud and clay come falling from my life under His cleansing power.
From Proverbs 28 (NKJV):
“13 He who covers his sins will not prosper,
But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.”
The power of Scripture, the Word of God, is that its promises cannot be broken. God didn’t have to argue with light, He just spoke it and it was (Genesis 1:3). Likewise with everything He has written. Promises like the one in this proverb have flipsides. In this case we are promised that, as long as we insist we are clean without Him, we cannot prosper. When we hide, our separation from Him becomes chronic. What we conceal becomes our sentence. I am grateful for the discipline of God which led (and leads) me to repentance, and I hopefully pray that everyone I know or with whom I have contact will come to a healing knowledge of God and the cleansing power of His Son, Jesus Christ.
Last night I was overcome with the power of words as I reflected on some of my own. It occurred to me that there is no way I will ever be able to do a complete Step Eight inventory of all those I have harmed, because my careless words have pierced a multitude of people far too countless to number. I prayed for all of them en masse, and also by category and by individual name as I recalled specifics. I asked God to reverse any curse I had ever knowingly or unknowingly uttered, that the effect of my harshness anywhere I have ever been would be overcome now by some miraculous intervention of God’s goodness and grace, and that the wake of my carelessness would be stilled, its effects nullified. It occurred to me that blessing should replace cursing, so I began to bless every single person who had ever provoked me to anger, blessing them with the thing I want most in life – knowledge of God’s will and power to carry that out. As I blessed them in prayer and forgave them all, I was washed by a new forgiveness the depth of which I do not remember ever experiencing. None of the harms done me, at that moment, mattered at all. More than that, the irrational outrage in which I had partaken for so much of my life, which created imaginary enemies of those who had perhaps done me no wrong at all, melted away too. It was amazing!
I was convicted by a recollection of the Scripture that says, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34, Luke 6:45). I have recently been asking God to help me stop cursing and using vulgarities, to clean up my speech. What I was shown last night was that we can’t change the exhaust until we change what’s wrong in the engine. Forgiveness, acceptance, and loving kindness all have to replace the fear, contention, and hate that was inside before the bitter overflow can turn sweet.
Later that night, I was participating in a worship experience, and the leader began to speak on the chosen topic of the night: the power of words! God’s Holy Spirit is moving, and He is calling His children to forgive and be forgiven, to love and turn from harm, to be careful and caring rather than careless.
Lord, the ears You made have heard. Help my hands, feet and tongue to follow.
From my reading through the Bible, currently in Luke 22 (NKJV):
“70 Then they all said, ‘Are You then the Son of God?’
So He said to them, ‘You rightly say that I am.’”
Even as Jesus was facing a death sentence, He called a BINGO when His accusers actually got one right. In fact, His choice of words as confirmation of His identity “I AM” rang of the identity God used when He introduced Himself to Moses (Exodus 3:14) as “I AM.”
Accepting who and what I am is only half the solution; recognizing who God is in Christ Jesus is the other half. Today, I confess that Jesus is God made man, and that He died to bring me to His side. I will let Him wash me and I will dress myself in as much of His likeness as He will apply, and follow His footsteps, marked with love and forgiveness, in the hopes that the God of grace would go with me, be my Guide and my Provider wherever I go.
From Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, page 49:
“All these failings generate fear, a soul-sickness in its own right. Then fear, in turn, generates more character defects. Unreasonable fear that our instincts will not be satisfied drives us to covet the possessions of others, to lust for sex and power, to become angry when our instinctive demands are threatened, to be envious when the ambitions of others seem to be realized while ours are not. We eat, drink, and grab for more of everything than we need, fearing we shall never have enough. And with genuine alarm at the prospect of work, we stay lazy. We loaf and procrastinate, or at best work grudgingly and under half steam. These fears are the termites that ceaselessly devour the foundations of whatever sort of life we try to build.”
*Abstinence began for me on May 11th, 2010.
† For the sake of accountability, the details of my eating are posted in my online food log.