growthAbstinent Today:

I am a gratefully recovering compulsive overeater, abstinent by the grace of God one more* day at a time. †

Today, in a meeting, I was introduced to the recently printed Abstinence, Second Edition, a book I quickly downloaded onto my e-reader. I was amazed at how succinctly abstinence is defined and yet how we muddy up its definition with our warped understanding of the Tools of Recovery and recovery itself. OA’s founder, Rozanne S., was also disturbed by this confusion according to the first chapter of the book. Abstinence is the act of refraining, so my abstinence can not be equal to my plan of eating, my action plan, or any of the tools; neither is it recovery, the result of living the Twelve Steps, although it is certainly assisted by such a lifestyle.

I like to think of abstinence as the “out of bounds” areas of my life. These foods and behaviors I will not do. I will abstain from them. In between those boundaries is the green pasture, the fairway so to speak. There is abstinence – the forbidden, and there is providence – the resources I enjoy guilt and pain free that I can assume are God’s gift to me. As I seek and learn more about God’s will for me, I may identify certain parts of my green as “rough” or caution zones, that alert me that I am nearing the forbidden. I call it the “yellow” between “red” and “green.” I got this from an OA workshop I attended early in my recovery. The yellow foods and behaviors are the ones that, though permitted, raise alarm and caution. For someone who abstains from added sugar and processed white flour, these might be whole wheat products and foods containing artificial sweeteners. Eventually, most of the things on my yellow list ended up in the red, but I still have some yellow foods, and eating anything at my parents’ house will always wave a flag for me. That is as it should be. Abundance of caution is what helps me stay clear of the abstinence-violating actions that I could not deny: eating the forbidden food or in the forbidden way.



From today’s entry in Voices of Recovery:

“The ‘compulsive overeater who still suffers’ isn’t always a newcomer to OA. He or she can also be an established member experiencing difficulties with the disease of compulsive eating or with other problems.” — The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous, p. 148

This reminds me of the entry the other day about one who is speaking being their own primary audience. When we pray (or have a moment of silence) for those still suffering, one could evaluate whether they are in that category. I have had occasions when the term “suffering” applied so well to my mental state that I couldn’t help but admit, “Those like me, Lord, who are still suffering… Yeah, us! Please help us to find a closer relationship with You and Your will.” There is none among us who is free of problems. What we have is a step by step program of spiritual recovery that helps us to deal with the problems that come, and do it without indulging our addiction(s).



From Proverbs 20:

29 The glory of young men is their strength,

gray hair the splendor of the old.

I’ve really got something to celebrate then, because I am both grayer and stronger than I have ever been! I am grateful that God has allowed me to experience recovery while I am still young enough to enjoy the strength that has come with it. I also know that it took a certain amount of maturity for me to be able to apply the principles of recovery. “Welcome to adulthood!” my wife exclaimed the first time I verbally recognized, “My way is not the only way.” Today is the best time of my life!



From my reading through the Bible, currently in Romans 1:

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. 17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last,[Or is from faith to faith] just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”[Habakkuk 2:4].

There is an enigma concerning faith that is identified by the notation in verse 17. Faith is required in order to believe that God exists (Hebrews 11:6), but it is faith that God builds in us that allows us to please Him and it is the maturing of faith that is the ultimate goal of anyone undergoing the trial of life on earth (1 Peter 1:9, James 1:2-3). We go from faith to faith. Faith is the first seed of righteousness in our lives, and it is the perfect fruit that comes from our living according to it. It is both our process and purpose. And the ultimate plan of salvation is that all such fruit will be gathered in with the rest in the harvest of the faithful. The Gospel then, which is the Good News by the Spirit and Word of God, is both the thing to be believed and the thing by which we believe, both the object and motivating power of our faith.

Thank You, Father, for tying up Your mysteries into the simple truth that You love us enough to die for us. Help me to be bold about the Good News of that love, and to live according to it in all my affairs.



From the “Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous, “Freedom from Bondage”:

A.A. has taught me that I will have peace of mind in exact proportion to the peace of mind I bring into the lives of the other people, and it has taught me the true meaning of the admonition “happy are ye who know these things and do them.” For the only problems I have now are those I create when I break out in a rash of self-will.


*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.