I am a recovering compulsive overeater, abstinent by the grace of God one more* day at a time. †
I spent much of yesterday thinking that, while the focus of Lent and Ash Wednesday is on preparation for the coming of Easter, the celebration of Christ’s resurrection, it is really more of a readying ourselves for our own resurrection. Turning our hearts to self-sacrifice, giving, and prayer, the world trims its wicks and fills its lamps for the coming of the One who will ultimately carry us home.
I was reminded yesterday of how alien I am to this world by my observance of Ash Wednesday. Since I come from a non-orthodox background and have never done this before, I was quite surprised at the varied responses of people to the ashen cross on my forehead. In some cases it was predictably humiliating, although I was not ashamed of the cross or the One it represents, but of being soiled and of the nature of some of the alarming reactions. For instance several looked at me as if the mark were a horn, a Cyclops eye, or some unclean or even contagious matter. One of my supervisors at work told me he could not even talk to me with that cross on my forehead and avoided me altogether. In a few instances when I came across folks who recognized the mark, it was uplifting as I felt kinship with them, and some even voiced remorse at not observing the liturgical tradition themselves. Universally it made me feel set apart, as though marked for another world, as in reality I am.
Incidentally, I could not make it to a liturgical ceremony, so I had a private one at home. I wrote down on a small piece of paper the thing I would offer to God for Lent, then burned it in a dish and used those ashes, along with olive oil, for the anointing mark of the cross. We are a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9) and, as such, I felt ordained enough to administer this rite myself. It actually made it quite personal, an intimate worship experience with God.
From today’s entry in Voices of Recovery:
“The Twelfth Step invites us to continue the journey one day at a time for the rest of our lives. We need to keep moving forward in recovery, keep developing our spiritual consciousness, if we are to remain spiritually awake and fully alive.” — The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous, p. 100
One day of self-sacrifice isn’t change, it’s a holiday. The idea is to be made new, to be recreated more like God’s original plan. When God created the earth and all that is in it He marveled and declared it “very good” (Genesis 1:31). Since then we rebelled. It’s time to get back to the “good” we were built to be and do.
From Proverbs 14:
“23 All hard work brings a profit,
but mere talk leads only to poverty.”
The material mind reads this proverb and sees sweat and currency, and there is truth in it when read it that way. But if we turn the prism to the spiritual and read it again, we see that God promises spiritual growth where there is spiritual diligence. It is easy to find someone who gives lip-service to the spiritual but is bankrupt of joy and comatose of spirit. My hope is that I will be integrated with the Spirit of God, so that all of me is consistently seeking God’s will, not mine, all the time.
Heavenly Father, guide me in Your grace and stir me to diligence, that I may not be found sleeping, but that Your deposit in me would yield a multiplied harvest to Your glory, not mine. Make my words be true but never hollow, always an overflow of the Spirit You placed within me, and may I never bring You disgrace or loss.
From my reading through the Bible, currently in Luke 8:
There are a lot of miracles described in this chapter, but what caught my attention today was within the parable of the sower. Jesus described various people types on which the word of God falls like seeds on the ground. Some reject it immediately like seed on a well-worn path. Others are momentarily inspired by it but take no root. The good soil accepts the word and produces a crop. The soil type with which I best associate because of my history of hypocrisy and counterfeit religion, performance-based belief, shame, and emotional medicating with the substance of food is the other soil type – that of the thorny weeds, that fails to mature.
“14 The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.”
While I was disturbed at the lack of spiritual maturity of my history, I read on and was encouraged to see Jesus calm stormy conditions with His word, cast out demons, heal the faithful, restore lives, and even revive the dead.
“53 They laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. 54 But he took her by the hand and said, ‘My child, get up!’ 55 Her spirit returned, and at once she stood up.”
Revive us, oh Lord! Call us out of our spiritual sickness and death, and make us new. Remove me from the weeds that used to choke me and give me Your Spirit to breathe. You make all things new! Halleluhia!
From the “Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous, page 64:
“Though our decision was vital and crucial step, it could have little permanent effect unless at once followed by a strenuous effort to face, and to be rid of, the things in ourselves which had been blocking us.”
*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.’”