Abstinent 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:

“Today, 99.9 percent of the time, I do not have any interest in eating compulsively. When the compulsion returns, I know from experience that it will pass if I do not ‘feed’ it.”

It is eerily coincidental this should come up.  Last night, at a meeting, I mentioned how a nonchalant visit to the corner drugstore without mental or spiritual preparation thrust me into the danger zone of a Halloween candy maze.  I had completely forgotten that I usually go to the drive-thru window to get my prescriptions refilled just to avoid the sights and smells of the well-marketed poisons in a drugstore.  Having stopped in as an afterthought on my way home from a bicycle ride, I just hadn’t planned out my course.  This type of store has been a problem for me since I quit smoking years ago.  Freed of the need, my nose still starts longing when I come within striking distance of the aromatic pipe tobacco, which is almost always near the checkout counter.  Cherry Cavendish with a hint of vanilla – it’s the one thing I still miss about not smoking.  Now, I was faced with a gauntlet of poison at every turn.  I was shocked at my lack of preparedness, but quickly dismissed any notion that anything in this store, other than my prescriptions, was for me.  There is a well-founded reason the professional marketers design such establishments with the necessary department in a drugstore in its far corner.  I recognized their scheme and I passed with confidence, by way of the most familiar aisle, still damp with sweat from my gym workout, which seemed to help.  There was a brief, but friendly confrontation with the pharmacy tech, who insisted my coupon was not on file, and I left without raising a dispute, but with only half of what I came for.  Disappointment seems to test the steel of the will, and I was relying far too heavily on mine.  Not once had I prayed, “Thy will, not mine, be done!” as I have learned to do in such circumstances.  Not once had I asked God to escort me safely through this valley of the shadow of death.  I was pumped with self-confidence, and that alone should have been enough to wave frantic red flags in my spirit, but my spirit didn’t see them.  It was blinded by the very thing that threatened me, my own carnal confidence.  As I neared the exit, wringing in self-concern, I came upon it, a mountain of Santita corn chips stacked high in a display, the two-pound bags I used to down in a sitting with at least one, if not two, jars of queso dip.  They were the staple for any celebration, and medication for any large disappointment.   They played the devil with my digestive system and almost always did damage, but I had always eaten them anyway, rarely sharing any and usually hiding them altogether.  There in the store, they seemed to laugh at me and claw in my direction like many of the noisy Halloween decorations that cluttered the center aisle of the store.  Amazed that after all the recovery I have experienced foodstuffs like this still knew my name, I felt like Snow White in the Enchanted Forest, threatened, alone, and afraid.

I guess occasionally one has to experience a symptom or two in order to remember to keep applying the remedy.  Though I forgot to pray my way through the obstacle, this tower of terror in front of me stopped me in my tracks, and I was forced to remember my helplessness.  I once again invited God to join me, and found my feet moving forward through the obstacle, emerging victorious through the automatic doors that seemed to swoosh open with applause.  Glory to God!  I was not able on my own, but He was able to help me.  The experience reminded me that, while “the preoccupation with food diminishes and in many cases leaves us entirely,” (Overeaters Anonymous  Second Edition, page 2) it is never fully absent. I have to remain prepared for that one-hundredth  of one percent of the time, for which the enemy waits, that moment of self-assurance when the predator knows I am at my weakest.  The truth is I am never alone.  God will never leave me nor forsake me.  If our relationship were only a matter of Him connecting to me, there would never be any concern.  But He is great because of His unending love;  and I am human and, as such, a flickering flame, warming here now there, and cooling and dimming with every breeze like a candle in the wind.

Oh, God!  Let me burn bright with Your grace, so that this wretched body of flesh would not come between us!  Break the clay pot of my natural self, let Your Spirit shine brightly from within me, and make Your enemies flee!  Give me knowledge of Your will for me, and the power to carry it out.  I thank You for deliverance, and acknowledge that recreational foods that harm me are not Your will for me.

 

 

From Proverbs 18 (NLT):

10 The name of the Lord is a strong fortress;
the godly run to him and are safe.”

Calling on the name of the Lord is swinging to safety on a sure and sturdy line.  Biblical history is filled with accounts of God responding to the prayers of those who call upon His name if, for no other reason than His name’s sake.  My error in the drugstore was in venturing out into the wilderness, unarmed and unwittingly vulnerable.   While looking up verses for today’s devotional meditation, I stumbled across this one that reminds me I am not the first, nor will I be the last, to learn that wandering off from God will result in correction.

“‘Your wickedness will punish you; your backsliding will rebuke you. Consider then and realize how evil and bitter it is for you when you forsake the LORD your God and have no awe of me,’ declares the Lord, the LORD Almighty.”  Jeremiah 2:19

I can hear a maternal call of the Spirit, as though I were a small boy at the door of a great house, “Don’t wander off!  Stay close to home!”

 

 

 

From my reading through the Bible, currently in Ezekiel 18:

In the days of Ezekiel, there was a popular saying that God denounced through His prophet.  The saying hinted that the sins of a father would bring consequence on his children as well.  God made it very clear that each person would be judged according to his or her own righteousness, and not bear the burden for another’s sin.  God’s description of  His justice system was unarguably fair, though it remained that even the most righteous human would still fall short of perfection without some divine intervention.  The call to the children of God was simple, and it mirrors the two core concepts of the Oxford Group that served as the pillars on which the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous were built: trust God and clean house!

30 ‘Therefore, O house of Israel, I will judge you, each one according to his ways,’ declares the Sovereign Lord. ‘Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall. 31 Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, O house of Israel? 32 For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live!’”

 

 

 

 

From the “Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous, page 85:

“It is easy to let up on the spiritual program of action and rest on our laurels. We are headed for trouble if we do, for alcohol is a subtle foe. We are not cured of alcoholism. What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition. Every day is a day when we must carry the vision of God’s will into all of our activities. ‘How can I best serve Thee—Thy will (not mine) be done.’ These are thoughts which must go with us constantly.”

 

 

 

 

Footnotes:

*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.

In order to get a fresh perspective, I switched from using the New International Version (NIV or “NIV1984”) to a version I have not used before, the New Living Translation (NLT), just for this month’s reading of Proverbs.  I normally avoid switching, because it confuses my attempts at memorization, but I thought it might shed light on the old truths from a different angle and exercise my willingness with a little change.

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