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:
“Recovery began for most of us when we got out of isolation and into an OA group. Here we discovered we were never meant to live alone.” — The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous, p. 109
and restoration are related words in my mind. I can picture a badly worn piece of furniture with the upholstery soiled and ragged from use, the stuffing and springs showing through from wear. To look at it, one might question the owner’s abuse or neglect of it or perhaps the poor construction of the original product. Recovery for that furniture means taking off the old, worn-out, torn material; tightening up the hardware; discarding broken pieces; mending internal structures; and applying a new, more durable fabric. It is the same with restoration of anything – cars, boats, houses, me. Before one ever begins such a project, there has to be some recognition of value, an appraisal so to speak. For me, this began with the acceptance and hope I found in the rooms of OA. I saw the restored pieces in the circle around me, and came to believe that I was worth restoring, and that such an effort was possible. I was already acquainted with the Craftsman, I just didn’t know, or couldn’t believe, He cared to recover such as me. I began to disregard the negative labels in my mind: “tattered,” “torn,” “hopeless,” “beyond repair,” “not worth the effort.” I began to hear and believe the positive: “loved,” “valued,” “accepted,” “included,” “hopeful,” “worth it!” Eventually, I submitted to placing my torn, tattered self in the loving care of the Master Craftsman, Who is still completing His work in me. And I hope He never stops!
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” (Colossians 3:12)
“…he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)
From Proverbs 12:
“16 A fool shows his annoyance at once,
but a prudent man overlooks an insult.”
This chapter mentions a lot of my character defects and, just like in this verse, shows the flipside of the coin to demonstrate how to act as if my reprogramming is taking effect so that my reconstruction can begin to take shape. This particular proverb is closely tied to the self-criticism I practiced as a routine and mentioned in the VOR reflection. When I began to realize that I was valuable to God and others around me, I had to admit those others around me had the same value, and they didn’t need to hear my criticism any more than I did. Just as negative self-talk rots the soul, an insult expressed contaminates two, and a resentment choked back only embitters the one harboring it. Overlooking an insult – actually forgiving the annoyance – is what has proved to be the only clean way to be free of my defective cycle of harm, shame, retreat, and consolation.
From my reading through the Bible, currently in Luke 6:
This chapter is full of Jesus’ teaching and none of it is to be missed. The Golden Rule is here, and the second greatest commandment. But what stuck me in the ribs was this passage that made me consider that, though I have long considered myself a Christian, I had not been evaluating how Christian I have been. There is no value in lip service or false claims of association with a Higher Power who desires relationship. The term Christian is not (or should not be) a title of membership as if in a club, but means Christ-like, exhibiting traits and characteristics of Christ. I was certainly not that, and this verse proves the futility of fruitless living and how the agnostic temperament, even when found in a tidy-living church-goer, is alien to the One it claims to acknowledge.
“43 No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. 44 Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. 45 The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.
“46 Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?”
My deepest pain was my disappointment that I was not close to the God I claimed to know so well. Letting go of my false act, closing down the show, and turning the whole production over to God allowed for the development of something real, something that empowered me to live, gave me purpose and provision to move forward. The pattern of pretending then hiding and indulging was exposed for what it was and eliminated, making room for what would sprout and grow – a tree of Life!
From the “Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous, page 62:
“Many of us had moral and philosophical convictions galore, but we could not live up to them even though we would have liked to. Neither could we reduce our self-centeredness much by wishing or trying on our own power. We had to have God’s help.
“This is the how and the why of it. First of all, we had to quit playing God.”
*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.
‡ From “Our Invitation to You” out of Overeater’s Anonymous: “The OA recovery program is patterned after that of Alcoholics Anonymous. We use AA’s Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, changing only the words ‘alcohol’ and ‘alcoholic’ to ‘food’ and ‘compulsive overeater.’”