Abstinent Today:

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

While I recover from a recent injury, I have had a little extra reading time, and have been back at Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis.  I cannot help but share part of what I read yesterday that spoke to me on pride and humility in a very real way.

“Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man.  We say that people are proud of being rich, or clever, or good-looking but they are not.  They are proud of being richer, or cleverer, or better-looking than others.  If every one else became equally rich, or clever, or good-looking there would be nothing to be proud about.  It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest.  Once the element of competition has gone, pride has gone.

“…Greed may drive men into competition if there is not enough to go round; but the proud man, even when he has got more than he can possibly want, will try to get still more just to assert his power.  Nearly all those evils in the world which people put down to greed or selfishness are really far more the result of Pride.

“Pride is competitive by its very nature: that is why it goes on and on.  If I am a proud man, then, as long as there is one man in the whole world more powerful, or richer, or cleverer than I, he is my rival and my enemy.

“…Pride always means enmity – it is enmity.  And not only enmity between man and man, but enmity to God.”

Lewis goes on to describe the worst of atrocities: when Pride smuggles itself into the Christian Church, and prideful competition for some appearance of holiness turns what might have been followers of the Way, the Truth and the Life into hypocrites, agents of death and Hell.  (See John 8:44.)  Even the casual observer can see past that facade, and that discredits the entire organization!  (See John 13:35.)

It occurred to me that the prideful hoarding of food, power, space, isolation, control, love, all the things characterized by the disease of compulsive eating, was my way of competing with all the other “puny humans” on earth.  (Yes, much to my shame I called you that.)    Even while professing to follow God, I found myself capable of this attitude.  There is only one way that is possible – by lying!  (See 1 John 4:20.)  There is a medication for the pain that comes from living a lie – compulsive eating.  There are other medications: alcohol, drugs, pornography, gambling, thrill-seeking, spending; but compulsive eating is mine.

I thank God for rescuing me from my attitude of self-righteousness, the falsehood of self-sufficiency, and the deep, dark dungeon of compulsive eating!

 

 

 

From today’s entry in Voices of Recovery:

“Many of us had asked God to help us control our weight and this prayer hadn’t worked.” — The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous, p. 15

“…And bless this pastry,” was likely a subsequent prayer.  It is sheer rudeness the way I abused God in prayer over the years, asking for what I wanted like He was a great big genie or something.  No wonder I was denied so much of what I asked!  The condition I allowed myself to get in was a result of a chronic problem that ran much deeper than my waistline.  While I saluted God with my outward self, inwardly it was a selfish spirit that was secretly running the show.  I am grateful for God’s negative response to my selfishness.  Without it, I might still be unaware of that spiritual condition, and setting myself up to hear those dreaded words, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” (Matthew 7:23)

 

 

 

From Proverbs 13 (NKJV):

25 The righteous eats to the satisfying of his soul,
But the stomach of the wicked shall be in want.”

In my disease, I’ve eaten to satisfy my palette, to sate my fears or hurts, to celebrate accomplishment or the turning of a calendar, and even to punish myself for being me, but in recovery I find that eating for the sole purpose of fueling the body for service is satisfying to the soul.  I am reminded of the leech’s daughters in Proverbs 30:15.  “‘Give, give!’ they cry.”  The soul of the self-serving is the leech’s daughter, never satisfied, always in want.

 

 

 

 

 

From my reading through the Bible,” currently in Daniel 6:

Today’s story is the one for which Daniel is known.  A fact that sometimes gets lost in the miraculous story of Daniel and the Lion’s Den is the integrity Daniel displayed that got him into the public eye, made everyone despise him, and cost him a night in darkness with the beasts of destruction.  Daniel was the kind of guy I admire and wish to emulate.  In everything he did, he displayed honor, diligence, integrity, and devotion to God.  When his enemies tried to disparage him they found absolutely no grounds (verse 4).  So they used flattery, lies, and trickery to get King Darius the Mede to outlaw praying to God, instantly rendering righteous Daniel a criminal.  When he heard of the law against praying, he did what any child of God should do: he went and prayed about it.  His enemies convicted him in such a way that even the king could not save him.  Daniel was sealed in a tomb of death, but emerged again the next day, the power of the beasts overcome by the messenger of God (verse 22).

A couple takeaways from this text for me, aside from the spiritual parallels to Christ’s burial and resurrection, are the prayers of Darius.  Heartbroken that he was powerless to save Daniel himself, the king prayed:

16b May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!”

When God’s deliverance had been revealed, Darius issued a proclamation:

26 ‘I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel.

‘For he is the living God
and he endures forever;
his kingdom will not be destroyed,
his dominion will never end.
27 He rescues and he saves;
he performs signs and wonders
in the heavens and on the earth.
He has rescued Daniel
from the power of the lions.’”

What kind of man is it that can take kings of conquering empires like Babylon, Media, and Persia, and by his example lead them to honor and revere the God of Heaven?  Someone uncompromising, faithful, true; a man of integrity, devoted to God; a man like Daniel!

God, rescue me from the death-pit of self-indulgence that I may better do Your will.  Clean me from all duplicity and unrighteousness so that anyone I may help, be they kings or paupers, would see You and not me, and find in You the healing satisfaction of Your salvation.  In the name of Jesus Christ, the Lion of Judah, amen!

 

 

 

 

 

From the “Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous, page 49:

“We, who have traveled this dubious path, beg you to lay aside prejudice, even against organized religion. We have learned that whatever the human frailties of various faiths may be, those faiths have given purpose and direction to millions. People of faith have a logical idea of what life is all about. Actually, we used to have no reasonable conception whatever. We used to amuse ourselves by cynically dissecting spiritual beliefs and practices when we might have observed that many spiritually-minded persons of all races, colors, and creeds were demonstrating a degree of stability, happiness and usefulness which we should have sought ourselves.”

 

 

 

 

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 shed light on the old truths from a different angle and exercise my willingness with a little change, I switched from using the New International Version (NIV or “NIV1984”) to the New King James Version (NKJV) just for this month’s reading of Proverbs.  

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