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:
“When we keep OA’s Eighth Tradition, we discover a beautiful spirit of caring service which becomes a powerful factor in our healing.” — The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous, p. 176
Service not only stretches my helping muscles; it also facilitates the exercise of the denial of my selfish nature, which would prefer to isolate and indulge sloth, cravings, and sensual desires. A service commitment may occasionally be my only motivation to move past my will, wish and wants. When I encourage others who are enduring pains I have survived, service even gives purpose to my painful history; and as I watch that reality repeat itself, I become better able to accept new painful trials as preparation for future helping opportunities.
From Proverbs 23:
“12 Apply your heart to instruction
and your ears to words of knowledge.”
Today, I heard an obvious statement that made me question the way I treat people, especially my wife. It was from an Andy Stanley message on “Making Love Last Forever”. He said, “People naturally move toward environments of encouragement.” A sub-point of that was that they move away from criticism. He described a gap between our expectations and the reality of our mate’s behavior, and said we have a choice to make: to fill that gap with a) assuming the worst; or b) believing the best. Successful marriages are made when people choose to believe the best. However, the natural tendency is to respond to pain with fear that then believes the worst. The problem here is then to engage something that helps us trust rather than fear, to persevere instead of isolate, to live in hope rather than horror. My conclusion was that, as with my recovery from compulsive eating, I will have to daily (at least) make a pre-meditated spiritual connection that enables me to live out my marriage relationship in faith rather than that fear. This verse encapsulates the remedy nicely: I must apply my heart to instruction and my ears to the words of knowledge, so when the momentary struggles come up, my first reaction is not that of self-preservation, but of relationship-preservation. For love “always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (1 Corinthians 13:7)
From my reading through the Bible, currently in Matthew 1:
When reading genealogies, I used to speed through them, uninterested in the monotony of the repetition, but since I have acquainted myself with the stories behind each of the names in the line of Christ, I am amazed that the list is not exactly a “who’s who” of righteousness, and yet every one of them is a hero in the ancestry of my Jesus, proving that God had a plan and a purpose even in the scandalous points of history.
“17 Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Christ.[Or Messiah. ‘The Christ’ (Greek) and ‘the Messiah’ (Hebrew) both mean “the Anointed One.’]”
“21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus,[Jesus is the Greek form of Joshua, which means the Lord saves.] because he will save his people from their sins.”
When I woke up this morning, the words I thought were “Hosanna, Emmanuel!” which means, “Save us (or ‘praise to the Savior’), God with us!” When I pray the Third Step Prayer each morning, I ask God to relieve, rescue or save (I change it sometimes) me from the bondage of self, that I may better do His will. The Savior who has made that possible brought that same rescue to anyone who would believe in Him. Jesus Christ is the Son who became man so that all men could become sons. I am enjoying this celebration of His incarnation during this season of Christmas, even though I know the many historical errors that went into the declaration of this particular holiday. I celebrate His incarnation for one reason: because His birth was necessary to precede His death and resurrection, by which He ransomed me. Had it not been for Easter, Christmas would be just another birthday (and an inaccurately calculated one at that).
From the “Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous, page 55:
“We can only clear the ground a bit. If our testimony helps sweep away prejudice, enables you to think honestly, encourages you to search diligently within yourself, then, if you wish, you can join us on the Broad Highway. With this attitude you cannot fail. The consciousness of your belief is sure to come to you.”
*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.