I am a gratefully recovering compulsive overeater, abstinent by the grace of God one more* day at a time. †
The other day I mentioned that I was struggling with the concepts of speaking faith and reciting our disease as our definition. This is why I introduce myself as “a gratefully recovering compulsive overeater” rather than just “a compulsive overeater,” although sometimes I forget to do that in meetings. Matthew West and KLOVE just completed an interesting project about this very thing and hearing about it may have been what got my brain stirring on the topic. (To see the project, click here.) KLOVE asked people to print a “Hello” sign and write on it their new definition in Christ. The song, “Hello My Name Is” was written after Matthew West received a letter from someone in recovery who was used to reciting his addiction as he introduced himself, and he was celebrating his deliverance from his addiction. I know of many who have pretended they were permanently delivered only to end up in relapse, so I want to marry both concepts: speaking in faith of the deliverance, but never letting myself be deceived into thinking that I no longer need the solution – the spiritual fitness that comes from keeping in alignment with my Higher Power. The simple method by which I have learned to accomplish this is through working the Twelve Steps. Who has recovery? Me! Who still needs recovery? Me! Who’s going to keep doing what works? Me! It’s the only way I know of to work a relapse-free program of recovery.
From today’s entry in Voices of Recovery:
That meeting opened the door of hope. As I read the Welcome Back pamphlet, I touched the words “Welcome back, Welcome home” and cried.
Hearing stories of those who have relapsed and returned has really helped me work my recovery program. I remember the warm feeling I got when I first heard, “Welcome to Overeaters Anonymous. Welcome home!” and I remember hearing this line of the Welcome Back pamphlet when it was read at a relapse recovery focus meeting I attended. I went to hear the stories of those coming back to help train myself not to leave the path in the first place. What I found was that everyone who ever thought they had finished, graduated, completed, or arrived at the condition they thought they wanted to be, soon lost it, often winding up in even worse shape than when they began. Salvaging even the greatest sunken treasure is meaningless if I let it fall back into the deep. I want to live in the welcome so that I don’t get lost in that lonely despair that waits for me if I forsake the fellowship of the recovering. In order to make my recovery matter, I will have to secure myself to something that floats. That’s the welcome and support of the OA fellowship.
From Proverbs 27, NIV:
9 Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart,
and the pleasantness of a friend
springs from their heartfelt advice.
17 As iron sharpens iron,
so one person sharpens another.
These two verses seemed tied together to me today. As my thoughts are on remaining faithful to the welcome of the fellowship, they plucked the same chord. The pleasantness of a friend is not in their telling others what to do, but in sharing the experiences stored in their own heart. I try very hard not to be the kind to say, “You should…” or “You must…” Like my recovery fellowship, I try to put my words in my own perspective, sharing what works for me and my views based on my limited understanding. Others can take it or leave it, perhaps taking little bits of it as they go. I know that for iron to sharpen iron takes interaction, but not necessarily the blacksmith version of intense heat and violent pounding. Two pieces of iron can be shaped by one another merely by rubbing together, as long as they stay in contact. The glowing fire, the anvil and hammer, somehow do not conjure images of joyful perfume or pleasant springs of advice. I need to refrain from the furnace and the metal works and focus on the pleasant sharing. Only then will other irons be eager to fellowship with this iron.
From my reading through the Bible, currently in Colossians 4, NIV:
2 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.
6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
12 Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.
As much as I like the direct instruction of Paul in the first of these selected verses, I find something less direct in the last. This man Epaphras, about whom little is known, is commended for his spiritual intercession on behalf of the church at Colossae. He prayed for their perseverance in the full will of God, their maturity and their complete assurance. What a wonderful set of petitions we, who are devoting ourselves watchfully and thankfully to God in prayer according to verse 2, could be praying! While we pray these things, we would be reminded to keep our conversation graceful. I find that, after praying for something, I am far less likely to stand or act in opposition to that prayer. So if I pray as Epaphras did for someone, I am far less likely to abuse that same someone in my conversation. There is training here for me regarding both my speech and my prayer-life. The intercessor role, which I have been less than diligent in fulfilling, will help me keep from the harm that has continued to be a problem in my character. I can blend the exhortations of all three of these verses and come up with a concoction that makes the incense of my company that much sweeter.
From The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous, “Tradition Three:
Nobody is excluded from OA membership because of his or her personal opinion of how to achieve abstinence. Note, too, that while the desire to stop eating compulsively is required, a person doesn’t have to be abstinent to be welcome at OA meetings. We encourage one another to keep coming back, no matter what. In fact, many of us have kept coming back to OA despite problems with abstinence and have found this to be the key to our recovery. In OA the door never closes to a member who has returned to active compulsive eating, and many members who have maintained long-term abstinence had at some time in the past felt themselves to be hopeless because they had trouble staying abstinent or experienced a relapse.
*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.