Saturday I mentioned my lack of self-esteem, but what I didn’t do was describe how miserably low it was in the first place. My first sponsor rightly concluded that I was “an ego-maniac with an inferiority complex” which was obviously demonstrated by my constant insistence on having my way and my annoying tendency to squash the way and will of anyone else, all the while insisting that I was too inferior ever to actually have my way. So dim was my view of myself that I despised anybody who loved me, including friends, wife, parents and even God. I had convicted as guilty each one of them for the ultimate crime of loving the unlovable, for being so dense as to find worthiness where I had proven, I thought, there was no worth. When folks parroted the popular adage, “God makes no junk,” I silently protested that I was certainly the exception. As the songs were sung that spoke of loving oneself, I objected, considering that loving oneself must certainly be overrated as an imperative, since I certainly did not and seemed to be getting along so well. Like Satan is apt to do, he even used a few well twisted Scriptures, memories of sermons, and verses of hymns to convince me I was in the right for despising “such a worm as I.” My mental tapes certainly played such a hateful song of self-loathing, that any insinuation that a Savior loved me was scorned as trite blabbings of the senseless over-religious, who, you might imagine, I also secretly despised, even while trying to outdo them.
I admit these thoughts and feelings today, not to berate myself again, but to reach the one(s) who may be feeling this way right now. As I said Saturday, I have learned, and am learning, to apply God’s esteem where my lack of it had been, just as I seek God’s will rather than my own. You see, I came to acknowledge that, though my view of myself was dimmed by the lie of Satan that I did not matter, I had placed my own opinion over that of my Creator, which is nothing short of idolatry in itself. It was as though I tried to trump God’s sovereign decree with the counterfeit one the deceiver and I had concocted in my darkened mind. Clouded with shame, guilt, and despair the Savior had already died to remove, I was blind to the reality that God’s grace had already met me, I had just failed to truly accept it. I had limited God’s access to me just as I had limited my willingness to let go of food’s dominion over me.
“You have not failed me, my son!” God said to me through a messenger one day, and confirmed it through the Scriptures repeatedly. Deception fails to stand up as true. Substance and misbehavior fails as a higher power. Addiction fails as a pattern for life. Food fails as a master, though falling under its lash seems convincing to the enslaved. The failure was not mine, it was in the things in which I had put my trust. God did not despise me as I despised myself. He knew the disease, the sinful nature of the flesh, was inherited from my ancestors, Adam and Eve. His was but a longing to see the Remedy applied. He patiently waited for me to recognize I was in need of a Remedy. He brought me the reality of His Remedy through the Twelve Steps:
- (I) admitted (I was) powerless over food; that (my life) had become unmanageable.
- Came to believe that a Power greater than (myself) could restore (me) to sanity.
- Made a decision to turn (my) will and (my life) over to the power of God as (I) understood Him.
- Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of (myself).
- Admitted to God, to (myself) and to another human being the exact nature of (my) wrongs.
- Became entirely willing to let God remove all these defects of character.
- Humbly asked Him to remove my shortcomings.
- Made a list of all persons (I) had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
- Made direct amends to such people, wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- Continued to take personal inventory, and when (I was) wrong, promptly admitted it.
- Sought, through prayer and meditation, to improve (my) conscious contact with God, as I understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for (me) and the power to carry that out.
- Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, (I) tried to carry this message to compulsive overeaters, and to practice these principles in all (my) affairs. (adapted from the Twelve Steps of Overeaters Anonymous)
As the principles embodied in these Twelve Steps brought the faith I already knew alive in the darkness my life had been, a light dawned and the darkness began to vanish. The people around me were no longer obstacles, but fellow-sufferers, many of whom had been glowing for some time with the same light I now had in me, and who, it appeared, were as happy to see me emerge from my darkness as I was to leave it. I found a fellowship of light that I could not have detected before, and I became aware that many still walk in darkness even among the light, just as I had done. I began to ache for the darkened about me and saw the urgency of Step Twelve, not only for compulsive overeaters, but for the spiritually sick, injured, or dead whose symptoms take any form. So I continue to take personal inventory, always keeping aware of the condition of the light within me, vigilantly tending its wick and fuel, and trusting God for its flame. I posture myself for relationship, seeking God’s will, and His power to do it. Very often, it is for me to shine on a soul near me, not to draw attention to this fallible candle, but to the One who is the Light, my Higher Power, Jesus Christ.
Dear Father, today, speak life through these words, and make Your light catch fire in a darkened soul who needs You. Thank You for finding a way to use me in Your plan for those who might need and read this humble collection of words. Move mightily and draw Yours to You, in Jesus’ name. Amen!