I am a recovering compulsive overeater, abstinent by the grace of God one more* day at a time. †
In my readings this week I came across this address on rebirth from John Wesley’s The Holy Spirit and Power, which I am led to share for its concurrence with the realities of my recovery:
It is not possible, in the nature of things, that a man should be truly happy who is not holy. Even the poor ungodly poet Juvenal tells us, ‘No wicked man is happy.’ The reason is plain. All unholy emotions are unhappy emotions. Malice, hatred, envy, jealousy, and revenge create a present hell in the heart. Even easier passions, if not kept under control, give a thousand times more pain than pleasure. Even hope, when stalled, makes the heart sick.
Every desire which is not according to the will of God will ultimately pierce us through with many sorrows. All the general sources of sin, pride, self-will, and idolatry are in the same proportion sources of misery. Therefore, as long as they reign in any soul, happiness cannot exist there. But they must reign until our basic nature is changed, that is, until we are born again.
From today’s entry in Voices of Recovery:
I looked around the meeting and saw the faces of people with MY problem, and it was their problem, too.
More welcoming than the thirteen lovely smiles in the room, more pleasant than the hugs from almost all of them after the meeting, more endearing than every word of welcome, were the shares of those few who told my story from their lives at my first meeting and did it with such hope and positive outlook that it made me want what all of them had. God bless OA, and God bless those thirteen women!
From Proverbs 23 (NRSV):
31 Do not look at wine when it is red,
when it sparkles in the cup
and goes down smoothly.
The admonition here lies among a longer discourse on the folly of drinking and follows a grouping together of “winebibbers” and “gluttonous eaters” (v. 20). The idea is not to allow oneself to be enticed by even the appearance of the product that corrupts the mind, body and spirit. Several points of news and health lately have pointed out what we OAs already know about the food industry: they do not have our health in mind, but our money! Any enterprise that makes its profit by getting us to eat and drink will not consider what is good for us over what will make us spend more money on more of their product. The more addictive the servings are, the more of our money will become theirs. And the dark destroyer chuckles as we voluntarily give our resources of finance, power and life over to his servants. This warning hail of Wisdom begs us before the fall, not to even look at it. When the television commercial shows the ooey-gooey, steamy poison, it is good to look away. When the billboard screams, “Exit from your woes and satisfy yourself here!” it is good to remember the call of Wisdom and continue as planned, not as tempted. And when our associates, the so-called “normal eaters,” gather around their coffin nails to cheerily toxify their arteries and beg us to indulge because “just once won’t hurt you,” we sisters and brothers of Wisdom know the viper that sparkles and goes down smoothly delivers a poisonous bite and, like a serpent, drags us down to the depths.
From my reading through the Bible, currently in John 20 (NRSV):
17 Jesus said to her [Mary Magdalene], “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
21 Jesus said to them [the Disciples] again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 22 When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
29 Jesus said to him [Thomas the Twin], “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”
Jesus translated to His disciples, then and now, the gift of relationship, both presently and in the resurrection. As the Father breathed life into Adam (Genesis 2:7), so the Son breathed New Life by the Holy Spirit into His disciples, and promised an even greater blessing to those of us who believe on this Higher Power without the benefit of firsthand witness of Christ’s piercing. I eagerly receive the blessing of this relationship and know that the Spirit of Immanuel “God with us” lives in me, guiding and empowering me to live and to do the will of God. Come, Holy Spirit; make Your home in me!
Another thing I see in this passage is Jesus’ instruction to Mary not to hold on to Him. I hear two lessons here. First, He was likely protecting her from her own expectations. He was not back to stay, but was merely making an appearance to reassure His friends that He had in fact resurrected. His arm’s length treatment of Mary was also quite likely a protection of His own purity. All sin died with Jesus on that cross, and Jesus, even in His flesh, was perfected at the finishing of His work when the sky went dark, the earth split and the veil between God and man was torn. It wouldn’t do for the resurrected Christ, on His way home to the Father, to be tempted by the passion of a broken-hearted woman suddenly restored. Why even look at the cup when it sparkles? Holiness is far too valuable to gamble on temptation! I need to remember my alienation with the world similarly, so that I neither hold on too tightly to the things of earth nor allow them to cling too tightly to me. I am sent by the One who was sent for me, and am no longer tethered to the things of this corruptible world. I need to remember that when they begin to slither around my ankles and entrap me again.
From the “Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous, “He Sold Himself Short”:
He said he had finally learned that drinking‡ was a fatal illness made up of an allergy plus an obsession, and once the drinking had passed from habit to obsession, we were completely hopeless, and could look forward only to spending the balance of our lives in mental institutions or to death. He laid great stress on the progression of his attitude toward life and people, and most of his attitudes had been very similar to mine. I thought at times that he was telling my story!
*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.’”