I am a recovering compulsive overeater, abstinent by the grace of God one more day at a time.

From today’s entry in Voices of Recovery:

“…our purpose in doing Step Eight is not to judge others, but to learn attitudes of mercy and forgiveness.” — The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous, p. 69

The contributor to today’s entry in the VOR writes:

“We all live in an imperfect world, surrounded by imperfect people. The ability to love yourself and those around you is a gift from God that enables you to live fully, bravely, and meaningfully in an imperfect world.”

Step Eight (“Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all”) helps to complete Step Three (“Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him”), in the sense that in the earlier we committed to be God’s instrument, His vessel.  In Step Eight we begin to learn His new purpose for us, as we make a conscious recognition of the grace we have received and begin to ready ourselves to pour it out onto others.

The acknowledgement that I have made mistakes and yet am not myself a mistake is key.  A friend shared with me a piece of advice that helped me accept God’s value of me rather than man’s, when she said, “What other people think of you is none of your business.”  When processed to its logical conclusion, this truth yielded another: what I think of other people is none of their business either.  The result was a level of acceptance more unconditional than I have ever known before.

This style of interaction with the people around me is in keeping with the Creator’s design for abundant life, and so I embrace it.  Occasionally, I lapse into momentary judgment or self-centered concern but, with a pause, a breath, and a whisper of prayer, I recall that I am a clay pot, formed from dust, and fashioned by the hand of a Great Craftsman, brought to vital purpose by His Spirit, and presented to this troubling instance not for frustration’s sake, but for the opportunity to minister His will and purpose to the one(s) I perceived an obstacle.

From Proverbs 29:

The righteous care about justice for the poor,
but the wicked have no such concern.”

This proverb shows a manifestation of the conversion of attitude that results from the repentance of the soul – man’s mind, will and emotions.  Caring comes naturally to the one who has recognized the brokenness of spirit in another as the common condition from which he, himself, is recovering.  The self-centered (“wicked”) are numb to the injustice of the deprived, because they themselves have lost the sense of connection, starving it out of themselves in preference for the indulgence of their other senses.  We amuse our taste, sight, smell, touch, hearing, and thrill ourselves to intoxicating levels so we cannot feel the loss of company, relationship …love.

Proper alignment with God (“righteousness”) gives us His value and purpose, and translates us into other-serving instruments rather than self-serving consumers.  The parasite is always a drain on its environment and once it has leeched itself to overindulgence, eventually dies, corrupting even the resource it stole to corrosive properties.  A human who has taken this role is eventually overwhelmed with at least a vague knowledge of what he is and the reality that it has contributed nothing to its host.  This is an accurate description of the course of my life in my disease.  Righteousness, on the other hand, is a state of symbiosis, in which each creature works together with Creation to do the part the Creator had purposed for it to do.  Each member is made better and stronger by serving the other.  Sensory indulgence is the grit in this machine, the temptation for each cog to go its own way, do its own thing, serve its own purpose.  No machine can function properly when every part has its own motive.  Setting aside individual will and whim in preference for the Manufacturer’s instruction is the only way to ensure proper fit, form and function of every piece and part of the beautiful work of God.

Every man, woman and child is a cog in God’s machine.  Incidentally, the word “cog” makes a nice acronym that helps me to remember to love each one: Child Of God.

From my reading through the Bible, currently in Isaiah 29:

The Books of Daniel and Revelation speak of a scroll being opened prior to the apocalypse.  Isaiah describes this event and then calls his prophecy a sealed scroll.

“Suddenly, in an instant,
    the Lord Almighty will come
with thunder and earthquake and great noise,
with windstorm and tempest and flames of a devouring fire.”

11 For you this whole vision is nothing but words sealed in a scroll. And if you give the scroll to someone who can read, and say to him, ‘Read this, please,’ he will answer, ‘I can’t; it is sealed.’”

Ironically, Isaiah mentions the sensory perception (or perhaps deception) of man, as if sightlessness and deafness would facilitate a keener understanding of what will happen.  In his pronouncement of woes, he described, in verse 16, the self-centric man who questions and defies his Creator, “Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘He did not make me’?  Can the pot say of the potter, ‘He knows nothing’?”  One of the most damning criticisms in this prophecy of woe is in its description of counterfeit religion.  The NIV translators’ notation at the end of verse 13 points to a description of such worship as being in vain.

13 The Lord says:

‘These people come near to me with their mouth
and honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
Their worship of me
is made up only of rules taught by men.’[Hebrew; Septuagint They worship me in vain; / their teachings are but rules taught by men]

This prophecy of Isaiah had one shadowy exercise in the first coming of Christ, but remains to be entirely fulfilled when the scroll is opened.  This explains why John the Baptist understood who Jesus was when the report of Him returned, “The blind receive sight…the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.” (Luke 7:22, emphasis mine)

18 In that day the deaf will hear the words of the scroll,
and out of gloom and darkness
the eyes of the blind will see.”

Masterful Craftsman of the universe, conform my life to Your Design.  Mute my misconceptions and extinguish my will in preference for Yours.  Maker of eyes, have mine.  Fashioner of ears, speak to mine.  Architect of all that is beautiful, let me perceive only that which You would have me, so that I can fulfill my purpose rather than to indulge my senses.  Sweep away distraction and focus my energy on sowing Your grace.  Today, I proclaim and thank You for my abstinence from self-indulgence!  Your will be done!

From the “Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous, page 89:

“Life will take on new meaning. To watch people recover, to see them help others, to watch loneliness vanish, to see a fellowship grow up about you, to have a host of friends—this is an experience you must not miss.”