Today:

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:

“I had believed that I had to decide, with God’s help, which of the people, places, and things in my life would benefit most from my interference. … The only thing I can change is myself.”

 

I don’t remember much of my pre-marital counseling, but this one thing I do remember the preacher trying to convey: “You cannot change your spouse.  You can change you.  How you change yourself effects how your spouse interacts with you.”  My self-centeredness interpreted his lesson as the parson’s permission to be slyly manipulative.  It took fifteen years of doing it wrong and getting frustrated before I found the practical application of his intended message in the simple words of the Serenity Prayer and the Twelve Steps of Overeaters Anonymous.

 

It helped when I heard a close family member say the words that my head had long been living, “When I see someone who is obviously wrong, I feel it is my duty to point it out.”  When I heard those words, the sickness of his attitude was so glaringly obvious that I couldn’t help but see it in my own reflection.  In his stand-up routine from the late sixties, “To Russell, My Brother, Whom I Slept With,” Bill Cosby posed the question, “Well who told you that you could be the one going around the big Jell-O Sheriff of the house?”  This was my response to my relative who, well familiar with the record we listened to hundreds of times together, shared a laugh with me as we both realized we had donned badges of self-appointed authority over people who had not entrusted us with deputy powers.  Since that conversation, both of us have matured our attitudes and whittled down our jurisdiction a little bit.  Hopefully, we will both continue to grow along these lines, but I am responsible only for me, so I will keep doing my part to keep the imaginary star off my chest.

 

One other thing I notice is this: as with the transistor radios I listened to as a kid, alignment and interference are related.  When my spirit is properly aligned with my God, I find there is less interference in the lives of others, and vice versa.  This is why, perhaps, praying for the serenity, courage, and wisdom for myself alone works far better than attempting to exercise those characteristics by my own power, especially in the lives of others.

 

I recall the words of a friend, “What others think of you is none of your business,” and my own extrapolation, “What I think of others is none of their business, either.”  It’s liberating!

 

Speaking of liberty, 1960’s nostalgia, and sheriffs, I enjoyed my Independence Day yesterday as much as I could at work, except for the receipt of the bad news of Andy Griffith’s death.  God bless his family and fans with peace!  I am grateful for the relaxed example of the civic leadership and paternity he portrayed in the fictional character of Andy Taylor.

 

From Proverbs 5:

11 At the end of your life you will groan,
when your flesh and body are spent.”

The problem with becoming proficient at criticism is that we never spend one moment out of reach of our easiest victim – ourselves.  Fault-finding is not a skill to be developed, admired, or cherished, but a defect of which I have to continually strive to be freed.  In the context of Proverbs 5, the self-recrimination comes as a result of giving in to lust, but these are not disconnected.  My mind occasionally longs to accost with reproach the character of those who oppose me.  Neither indulgence of the flesh nor of the mind is an acceptable course for the life being lived according to the Spirit.  Their end result, as this verse points out, is always regret, a sickness of the spirit.

 

 

From my reading through the Bible, currently in Isaiah 36 and 37:

Besieged by the army of the blasphemous Sennacherib king of Assyria, Hezekiah king of Judah at Jerusalem, was asked this question, “5b On whom are you depending, that you rebel against me?”  While the question came from the vain Assyrian king, it bears consideration for the man or woman evaluating their relationship with God.

 

Hezekiah turned, in all humility, to the prophet Isaiah for a word from God.  The promise was one of deliverance, swift and sure.

 

36 Then the angel of the Lord went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand men in the Assyrian camp. When the people got up the next morning—there were all the dead bodies!”

 

Sennacherib withdrew to the place where he would be betrayed and slain by his attendants.  The deliverance and provision of God came just as Isaiah prophesied.

 

While the mind of a nation turns to celebrate independence, I can’t help but rejoice, instead, in the liberty that comes from total dependence on God.  Freedom of the soul is far too dear to attach to the colors of any person, place, or institution.  Redemption, and therefore true freedom, comes from none but God.  When I ask myself the question, “On whom am I depending?”  I pray that the Lord may find me in complete allegiance to Him.  “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” (Galatians 5:1)

 

From the “Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous, page 62:

“He is the Father, and we are His children. Most Good ideas are simple, and this concept was the keystone of the new and triumphant arch through which we passed to freedom.”

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