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Photo credit: Woman's Day

Photo credit: Woman’s Day

Confession time! The transformation of recovery isn’t complete when Self keeps taking charge.

For the last couple weeks, I have moved, for the most part, into a guest bedroom in my house, partially to study without disturbing my precious bride, but mostly to hide from disappointment. I have repeatedly told the one who loves me that I was giving her “space to have her own way.” The truth is I have grown increasingly impatient, even intolerant, with her decisions lately. I have judged her actions as being based on her whim and emotion, when they are more than likely only lacking what I would deem an appropriate level of consideration of my own will, wish, and way. Either way, I am using isolation as a shield for disappointment, whether the expectations that feed it are realistic and fair or not.

Last night, while I fell asleep alongside her for a change, my mind and mouth were engaged even in the twilight of wakefulness. In the mental fog where the lies that support justifications begin to buckle under the weight of truth, I had some profound thoughts that escaped by way of mumbled, almost hypnotic, verbal expression. I confessed to my precious bride that, more than anything else, I am afraid of her. Not that I am afraid of her intentions or convictions, but that her intellect is not behind the wheel. After acknowledging my fear that her emotional navigation would run us, or more accurately – me, amok, I was forced to acknowledge that isolating myself from her to prevent injury puts my own emotions at the helm of my life, and so, constitutes me becoming the monster of which I was afraid.

The last thought I remember uttering before drifting off was that she is worth whatever pain I may experience, whatever it takes. As I recall what Christ endured for His Church (Ephesians 5:25), I am reminded that I have “not yet suffered to the point of shedding (my) blood” (Hebrews 12:4). I have not done everything I can. I have avoided pain by disengaging. I have behaved according to my own self-interest rather than sacrificing myself “as an act of worship” (Romans 12:1) giving preference to those around me. “As a dog returns to his vomit” (Proverbs 26:11) I have put Self on the throne of God yet again!

“Selfishness – self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles. Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity…” (AA, 62).

Holy Father, rescue me from the bondage of self!* I have wandered back into my old cage, and it is dark and lonely in here. Deliver me so I can be relevant to those You have placed in my path, and that You, not me, may be glorified. Make Your light shine on me and reflect onto others, that they may be attracted to You and discover for themselves that You are able and willing to deliver us from our prisons, no matter how comfortable we have made them. Empower me to do Your will only always. Through Christ our Lord, amen!

 

* (a variation of AA’s Step Three Prayer, Alcoholics Anonymous, page 63)

Ground Zero

  
The connection between me and addiction was reaffirmed yesterday when a class assignment brought me into the rooms of an AA meeting. Though I already attend OA meetings regularly, attending this meeting as a clinical assignment, forced me to look at things from a different perspective. By listening to unfamiliar people, with a different addiction, struggling with the exact same manifestations of self will run riot, I was reminded, again, that I have a cunning and baffling disease, and that no matter how much progress I make, I will always need a Savior. I’m watching a stupid television show, and one of the characters who is addressing a woman in rehab, said the following:

“Your kid… She’s your ground zero.”

I thought of my daughter and the rest of my Step 8 list, and was overwhelmed with grief and remorse. I have lived the best amends I know how, and I still do not think I will ever make up for the damage I have done. The uncontrollable nature of the way I have lived my life has been as destructive as a terrorist’s bomb, and my children are my ground zero.

The harm I have done is reason enough to step outside my pursuit of self satisfaction. How can I seek to please myself, when I, myself, have done so much damage?
God, every broken, incomplete, inadequate thing I am is yours. Please put me back together and make me useful to You!

On Abstinence

one drink“Forget it, I’m eating what I want!” is my primary point of abstinence; it is my booze, my forbidden fruit, and the timber cry of every diet I have ever employed for its season in my life. In addition, I have identified the following problem foods from which I will also abstain (emphatically refrain): ice cream, cakes, sweets, and nachos.

In order to support this abstinence, I plan to eat wholesome foods as naturally as I can, when possible avoiding any product with added sugar among its ingredients, refined wheat as its primary ingredient, genetically modified products, or those items preserved with sulfates, nitrates and nitrites. In general, I will avoid the ball-park meats and circus treats, but to do so will require certain actions which I will plan in advance. I will avoid ordering food from drive-through windows. Products dispensed from such cater to my greedy sloth and not my well-being. I will not walk into a grocery or convenience store without spiritually preparing myself for that experience. Spiritually fit, I can rise above the food that is not mine and meet the purpose for which I am in such a hostile territory. Unfit, I will be assailed by temptation and called to resist with my own will, which has proven insufficient.

Because I am a living organism, I will always be compelled by some force, be it divine, psychological, philosophical, mechanical, or biologic; but I choose to follow the guidance given me since seeking the will of my Higher Power (who chose to call Himself “God”) rather than the impulses and desires of my lower nature. This calls for constant reliance, faithful obedience, and careful attention. I have developed and will maintain a plan of eating, which will comply with what God reveals is His will for me; will articulate not just what but when, how, and how much; and will always maintain a safe distance from my abstinence, so that fumbling this helpful tool will not equate with plummeting into the deep darkness of relapse.

As God broadens my understanding of His providence I will amend my plan of eating, recognizing that what God has provided was intended for my good, and what man has corrupted for the sake of cost and convenience serves the same purpose as the destroyer’s purpose for self-serving sin in my own life: to steal, kill, and destroy. I will not willingly offer the thief such a foothold in my life.

I will offer, by some means (usually an electronic food journal), honest accountability for my eating, acknowledging that what I hide corrupts, but that darkness is expelled by light.

“Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.” Genesis 1:29, NIV

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (Words of Jesus) John 10:10, NIV


My plan is no secret. My food is tracked online. You are welcome to browse and learn more about me.

No Regrets

Time swirlMy precious bride and I recently watched a film in which a character, who will not be named to avoid a spoiler, had an opportunity to return to his past to change his circumstances and reclaim a life he thought he lost. At great cost and peril, he achieved his goal, but as he stood in the targeted moment, faced with the gravity of what he was about to do, he let the moment pass unaltered, convinced he had all he was meant to have and all he needed. As the closing credits rolled, my bride and I discussed the moments that had become turning points in our lives. We concluded there was not one moment in our painful histories either of us would change if we could. Content with the whittling and massaging of the Master Crafter, we found ourselves able to offer every broken moment to God’s care and found ourselves grateful even for the darkest hours, for by them He has crafted us into what we are becoming.

“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6, NASB)

“We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.” (Alcoholics Anonymous, page 83)

 

Walk to Emmaus stampLast night I returned from a three day Walk to Emmaus, a spiritual renewal event that jump-started a new chapter of my life. Each new pilgrim on the Walk was asked two questions toward the end of the weekend: what he got out of the experience, and what he would then do about it.

For me the takeaway was summed up in one word: inclusion. Situated between two careers, no longer a part of the brotherhood of law-enforcement which had been my family for two and a half decades and not yet a part of the community of nurses to which I will soon belong, I often feel lost, stuck in the crevice between. The Emmaus community welcomed me with a warm embrace, and I look forward to being a part of that community and a more integral part of my church family.
The second question, which asked what I would do about my spiritual renewal, required something more of me. I made a commitment to abstain from fabricating excuses.
When I arrived home last night, the first thing I did was kiss my precious bride, but the second thing I did was throw away a video game that has become a foothold of sloth in my life. I have found myself in the past weeks manipulating my schedule to allow more time with that silly electronic mind magnet. It has done nothing for me but rob me of energy and time that I might otherwise have used developing myself and supporting others.
This morning, after a refreshing sleep, I returned to the gym after an absence of almost seven months. This absence began with a legitimate excuse, a lingering chest cold that did not permit my physical exertion and which also waylaid my running regimen. Abstaining from excuses meant I would be starting over today, and start over I did. My muscles responded as though they had never even seen a gym before. The stacks of weights were cut nearly in half from my last visit, and my repetitions were also dramatically reduced. Still, I gave myself grace rather than giving into excuses, and finished the workout. Afterwards, I ran the errands I needed to run, and found myself available to support and encourage friends at the hospital.
Saying “no” to excuses freed me up to say “I love you” to those who needed to hear it, including myself.
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