I am a recovering compulsive overeater, abstinent by the grace of God one more* day at a time. †
Merry Christmas! I have always considered Christmas a season more than a one-day event. In fact, December 25th is really the conclusion of Christmas and, as such, sort of an anti-climax. Even as a self-centered little kid, by the time the tree was attacked, the stockings pillaged, and the floor was covered in torn wrapping paper, there seemed nothing left but to while away the day playing with either new toys or the boxes they came in. So Merry Christmas today, though it is Christmas Eve! May you enjoy the anticipation of bringing smiles to the faces close to you and celebrating the incarnation that led to redemption, the birth of Emmanuel “God with us” Jesus Christ.
From today’s entry in Voices of Recovery:
“Alas, it is not enough to want to be rid of the unpleasant side effects of my illness. I need to be willing to give up that which attracts me in the first place: the gratification, sedation, or whatever other payoff I get for practicing my compulsion.” — For Today, p. 132
When I read this, I thought of my counselor friend. He is fond of pointing out that all repeated behavior has at its forming base two ingredients: permission and reward. If either one is removed, the behavior will change. For me, eating whatever and whenever I wanted was part of the gratification itself. “I did it myyyy waaaayyyy!” was my swan song. So, for me, a practical solution was to remove the permission, and that particular reward vanished with it. When self-will was no longer preparing the menu, it didn’t get to celebrate after the planned and rationed meal. Soon, a new behavior set emerged, one of measuring and pre-selecting, of logging and publishing foods and their quantities, of writing and reading, of listening rather than dictating. Indulgence kept moving to the back of the carriage until it finally had no place to go but rolling down the ravine below. Adios, you loco self-centeredness!
From Proverbs 24:
“11 Rescue those being led away to death;
hold back those staggering toward slaughter.”
I have just learned of a tragic suicide in the company for which I work. I am torn because I used to be employed in a capacity to intervene in such situations, and now I can do nothing but pray for my fellows at work and love them when they seek me out, although few do anymore. I know that death and its lures surround me. Some are killing themselves slowly with food, others more quickly with devastating measures, and some are walking the earth oblivious to the fact that they are spiritually dead. I recognized them when I used to do peer support and would ask the question, “How would you characterize your spiritual life?” They would stare at me blankly or even admit, “I don’t believe in spiritual stuff.” Occasionally, one such would inquire about my meaning, and of those, a few allowed hope to take root. It reminds me of Jesus’ parable of the sower who scattered seed on different types of soil. Not all ground produces a crop, and so, I cannot save everyone, but that does not excuse me from trying with all I have and am to rescue as many as I possibly can. It is not my responsibility to discriminate, but to sow seed! I can acquaint as many as I can reach with hope, and let those who will grab ahold.
From my reading through the Bible, currently in Matthew 2:
Matthew’s Gospel makes a clear point that Jesus’ incarnation came as a fulfillment of the prophecies. He was born in Bethlehem, just like Micah 5:2 said (vs. 5-6). He escaped to Egypt and was later called out from there, according to Hosea 11:1 (vs. 14-15). An inconsolable lament rang out at the hands of Herod’s insecure rage, in keeping with Jeremiah 31:15 (vs. 16-18). By the way, I think that this situation was played out in the prophetic life of Moses “the deliverer” too: persecuted by a blood-thirsty tyrant killing baby boys, escaped to Egypt, called out from there to deliver God’s people to the Promised Land and Life. Jesus (“the Lord Saves” Matthew 1:21) was born to fulfill in spirit what Moses (“draw out” Exodus 2:10) had done for the literal people God chose to physically act out this spiritual play centuries before, seeds, as it were, for what would produce a crop of God’s global Church, the Body of Christ. Chapter 2 closes with the fulfillment of an unreferenced prophecy that the Messiah would be called a Nazarene, when Jesus’ family fled from Herod’s successor to Nazareth in Galilee (vs. 22-23).
God, I thank You for being an all-knowing Orchestrator of events. You know the end before You began Your creation. Thank You for having a plan and for weaving me into it. Help me to submit to your bobbing and threading, so that I may play my part in the tapestry of time as You have ordained. Thank You for seeing my need and for climbing down from Heaven to pave a Way through flesh and blood for those of us so confined to come to You, the True and Loving Spirit. Thank You for coming in meager surroundings so I could reach You without resources. Thank You for coming as a spotless Lamb, that Your sacrifice might trump all sacrifices. Thank You for drawing shepherds to the birth of the Lamb, and for inviting even foreigners to the house of His youth. I am neither shepherd nor wise man, but I know I am welcome, for You draw all men to Your Light, and You offer Life Abundant to even the desperately perishing. Save me from the deadly magnetism of my selfish nature by Your supernatural power. Anoint me with Your royalty that I may stand against Your enemies and be uniformed in Your grace and loving kindness. In Jesus’ name, I ask and thank You for salvation, for life, and for the hope of eternity with You! Hosanna, Emmanuel, Jesus Christ of Nazareth, born in Bethlehem!
From the “Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous, page 12:
“Thus was I convinced that God is concerned with us humans when we want Him enough. At long last I saw, I felt, I believed. Scales of pride and prejudice fell from my eyes. A new world came into view.”
*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.