I am a gratefully recovering compulsive overeater, abstinent by the grace of God one more* day at a time. †
On April 17th, 1977, I woke my parents up and informed them that I wanted to be baptized of Jesus Christ. I remember my dad waking as if I had told him there were burglars in the hall, he seemed so alarmed and excited. We talked about it over breakfast, and he quizzed me to be sure I knew what I was asking. Apparently I made his grade, because at church that morning I was baptized. I was old enough to know what baptism was, and experienced enough to know where the baptistry at our small church was, but not so savvy to associate the process with the “invitation call” that our congregation always offered at the end of each service. So, at age eight, when we got to the song my mother had pointed out to me on the bulletin hand-out, I walked straight down to the front, past the altar, and into the changing room! They came and got me out of there and put me in front of the elder who was leading the worship and altar call, and explained I had to answer a few questions first. And so it was. Brother John, who was about seven feet tall, asked me if I believed that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the Living God, and if I accepted Him as my Lord and Savior, and I did! My own dad performed the baptism. It was a happy re-birthday!
Today, I celebrate the anniversary of it, but every day I celebrate my baptism, that is the death, burial, and resurrection of my carnal self, the flesh, the part of me given to error and separation from God, the part that likens me to the animals, doing what pleases them and devouring one another each for their own interests. I did not understand that much when I was eight or even thirty-eight, but it is the liberating fact of my life each day now. I pray those with whom I have contact all come to a motivating hunger for such a daily reprieve, a dosing of grace that comes fresh with every dawn, that they too may lay down the old, wash away the corruptible, and raise to walk in newness of life, abundant life that only Christ, God with us, can give.
From today’s entry in Voices of Recovery:
“When we apply OA’s Tradition Three, we find the treasure of friendship often where we least expect it, with people we once would have excluded from our lives. Such treasure is all around us, and all we have to do is open our hearts to receive it.” — The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous, p. 135
Inclusion is a real need for people. The theme to the 80’s sit-com Cheers said it well, “You want to be where everybody knows your name.” I am grateful that I have found this acceptance and fellowship in places like church and recovery meeting groups, rather than a New England bar, but I can relate to those who wander into such places in hopes that they too might be recognized as they enter, with all the patrons shouting out their name as they did for Norm.
The key to being recognized as a regular in any setting is engagement. If I only attend a meeting every now and then, I have to be ready to accept that occasionally folks there will mistake me for a new guy. And if I show up but, like a fly on the wall, never speak to anyone or interact, I will surely be quickly forgotten. But if I give of myself, and draw others to share some of themselves with me, wherever I go I will find community, and I can have fellowship. Tradition Three says, “The only requirement for OA membership is a desire to stop eating compulsively.” That means no compulsive eater who wants to stop is excluded. The only way to be excluded is to exclude ourselves. I choose to be engaged, and I am grateful to have such a great cloud of fellows as I go.
From Proverbs 17:
19 Whoever loves a quarrel loves sin;
whoever builds a high gate invites destruction.
Sin is not content merely to separate us from God, it seeks to isolate and destroy us. Divide and conquer is one of the oldest tricks of warfare. When I cut myself off from any who might encourage me, I become discouraged. When I distrust all those around me, hate enters me through that window of fear, and embitters my soul. If my happy place has a molten lava moat, then perhaps there is something wrong with my spirit. Gates, locked doors, quarrels, darkened lonely rooms, shameful eating, all the mind-numbing things we do to ourselves – all these are tools of the destroyer who eagerly lays brick upon brick, walling us away from the resources that might encourage us, love us, lift us up, and walk with us in the Light of Life: relationship!
Dear Father, today, help me to abide in You and to be engaged with the people I meet, not just passing them by, oblivious to their existence. You are honing me into Your useful tool. Employ me for Your purposes wherever I go. Where I have opportunity to serve, help me serve. Where I might listen and love, let me not hurry and hush. Make me welcoming wherever You lead me, that Your children might be blessed, and You would be pleased.
26:17b …I am sending you to them 18 to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.
Paul, given an opportunity to share his story with King Agrippa, who was visiting the new governor, Festus, shared the Lord’s calling on his life and, in so doing, gave an example for others who have found hope to follow. It is an extension of Christ’s invitation for all to be at home where He is. Even as Paul spoke, he was mocked for trying to persuade the king to become a Christian, a follower of the Way.
29 Paul replied, “Short time or long—I pray to God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.”
My chains are not metallic, but addictive. Still my prayer is the same as Paul’s, that any who are listening to me today may enjoy the abundant life of grace through Jesus Christ the Lord.
From the “Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous, page 52:
We were having trouble with personal relationships, we couldn’t control our emotional natures, we were a prey to misery and depression, we couldn’t make a living, we had a feeling of uselessness, we were full of fear, we were unhappy, we couldn’t seem to be of real help to other people—was not a basic solution of these bedevilments more important than whether we should see newsreels of lunar flight? Of course it was.
When we saw others solve their problems by a simple reliance upon the Spirit of the Universe, we had to stop doubting the power of God. Our ideas did not work. But the God idea did.
*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.