Tag Archive: Christianity


Photo credit: Woman's Day

Photo credit: Woman’s Day

Confession time! The transformation of recovery isn’t complete when Self keeps taking charge.

For the last couple weeks, I have moved, for the most part, into a guest bedroom in my house, partially to study without disturbing my precious bride, but mostly to hide from disappointment. I have repeatedly told the one who loves me that I was giving her “space to have her own way.” The truth is I have grown increasingly impatient, even intolerant, with her decisions lately. I have judged her actions as being based on her whim and emotion, when they are more than likely only lacking what I would deem an appropriate level of consideration of my own will, wish, and way. Either way, I am using isolation as a shield for disappointment, whether the expectations that feed it are realistic and fair or not.

Last night, while I fell asleep alongside her for a change, my mind and mouth were engaged even in the twilight of wakefulness. In the mental fog where the lies that support justifications begin to buckle under the weight of truth, I had some profound thoughts that escaped by way of mumbled, almost hypnotic, verbal expression. I confessed to my precious bride that, more than anything else, I am afraid of her. Not that I am afraid of her intentions or convictions, but that her intellect is not behind the wheel. After acknowledging my fear that her emotional navigation would run us, or more accurately – me, amok, I was forced to acknowledge that isolating myself from her to prevent injury puts my own emotions at the helm of my life, and so, constitutes me becoming the monster of which I was afraid.

The last thought I remember uttering before drifting off was that she is worth whatever pain I may experience, whatever it takes. As I recall what Christ endured for His Church (Ephesians 5:25), I am reminded that I have “not yet suffered to the point of shedding (my) blood” (Hebrews 12:4). I have not done everything I can. I have avoided pain by disengaging. I have behaved according to my own self-interest rather than sacrificing myself “as an act of worship” (Romans 12:1) giving preference to those around me. “As a dog returns to his vomit” (Proverbs 26:11) I have put Self on the throne of God yet again!

“Selfishness – self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles. Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity…” (AA, 62).

Holy Father, rescue me from the bondage of self!* I have wandered back into my old cage, and it is dark and lonely in here. Deliver me so I can be relevant to those You have placed in my path, and that You, not me, may be glorified. Make Your light shine on me and reflect onto others, that they may be attracted to You and discover for themselves that You are able and willing to deliver us from our prisons, no matter how comfortable we have made them. Empower me to do Your will only always. Through Christ our Lord, amen!

 

* (a variation of AA’s Step Three Prayer, Alcoholics Anonymous, page 63)

Walk to Emmaus stampLast night I returned from a three day Walk to Emmaus, a spiritual renewal event that jump-started a new chapter of my life. Each new pilgrim on the Walk was asked two questions toward the end of the weekend: what he got out of the experience, and what he would then do about it.

For me the takeaway was summed up in one word: inclusion. Situated between two careers, no longer a part of the brotherhood of law-enforcement which had been my family for two and a half decades and not yet a part of the community of nurses to which I will soon belong, I often feel lost, stuck in the crevice between. The Emmaus community welcomed me with a warm embrace, and I look forward to being a part of that community and a more integral part of my church family.
The second question, which asked what I would do about my spiritual renewal, required something more of me. I made a commitment to abstain from fabricating excuses.
When I arrived home last night, the first thing I did was kiss my precious bride, but the second thing I did was throw away a video game that has become a foothold of sloth in my life. I have found myself in the past weeks manipulating my schedule to allow more time with that silly electronic mind magnet. It has done nothing for me but rob me of energy and time that I might otherwise have used developing myself and supporting others.
This morning, after a refreshing sleep, I returned to the gym after an absence of almost seven months. This absence began with a legitimate excuse, a lingering chest cold that did not permit my physical exertion and which also waylaid my running regimen. Abstaining from excuses meant I would be starting over today, and start over I did. My muscles responded as though they had never even seen a gym before. The stacks of weights were cut nearly in half from my last visit, and my repetitions were also dramatically reduced. Still, I gave myself grace rather than giving into excuses, and finished the workout. Afterwards, I ran the errands I needed to run, and found myself available to support and encourage friends at the hospital.
Saying “no” to excuses freed me up to say “I love you” to those who needed to hear it, including myself.

white flag surrenderWhile I believe the world was created in an instant cosmic response of obedience to God’s word, I believe that same God designed an order of things – an order defined by variances of growth or decay. In this balance, homeostasis is delicate and requires change to be kept in check. Failure to sense imbalance can lead to indifference, then to neglect, finally to decay. That is one of the main reasons I find maintenance in recovery so difficult. When I am free from my obsession of food and weight, I am liberated from the constant weigh-ins, content with what I see in the mirror because I am looking at the spiritual child of God and not his outline. A few extra pounds attached themselves to me while I was in the bliss of just such anesthetized ignorance – routine that looks just like spiritual fitness only isn’t. Awareness of this unwanted growth came just as my enemy would will it: timed perfectly in a bed of weakness, insecurity, and self-doubt. Clearly, not a fit spiritual condition.

I have been sick with a respiratory infection to varying degrees for twelve weeks. Twelve weeks! I have been on and off powerful antibiotics, breathing treatments, and even steroids. Some of the medicines I have taken came with warnings that they might make me “edgy,” a gentle euphemism for a condition I used to call home. They cannot, however, take the blame for what happened yesterday.

Just like most spiritual attacks, this one was well orchestrated to undermine a ministry commitment. Yesterday was our rotation for church prayer ministry, and it involved both my precious bride and me. No good attack comes from only one direction or by only one weapon, and so it was with this one. The weakness that comes by disease affects the body, but it takes something more to erode the spirit. This one, unfortunately, was complete.

My physical illness has been so chronic that my wife declared by assertion that she was taking over the lawn maintenance responsibilities whether I liked it or not. She rightly pointed out that caring for the lawn aggravates my allergies, and argued that we cannot afford for me to be sick. This tied together two insecurities, physical and financial, rolled them into a ball, and gagged me to silence. So, with my body bound by affliction, and my opinion choked out by insecurities, I was cast into helplessness. Well, not entirely. Yet.

I bought a new self-propelled lawn mower, set it up, and showed my precious bride how to run it. I offered suggestions, but was soon made aware that they were being taken as manipulative assertions of my selfish way and will. In keeping with my living amends, I kept my advice quiet. Mostly. Its new operator lowered the deck on the lawnmower so that the previously well-manicured lawn was shaved bald. When I asked why, I was told it was to keep from having to mow as often. I gritted my teeth, but somehow managed to delicately sum up the hours of research I had done on the optimal height of grass. The exchange was positive and concluded with mutual agreement. When the second week went by without any trimming or edging, I spoke up again. I was told the neglect was intentional, an effort to grow centipede grass runners which would then be cut and transplanted in areas of thinner grass population. I agonized in silence for a steamy couple days. Then, in a single hour of defiance, I donned my particulate filter mask and tore through the chore of trimming and weeding the front yard with the most contemptible resentment of my recent recollection. What could just as easily have been performed as an act of love was, for me that day, a venomous blast of selfish, fearful, insecure anger. But that was almost a week past, merely groundwork for the attack that would come yesterday.

My work on the front yard went unrecognized, and perhaps unnoticed. Wounds fester better when left unattended.

The spiritual topography on which it was fought would have a lot to do with how this battle was lost. With the mountains of financial insecurity defined by retirement, college expenses, and an unanticipated job loss in the family, it was easier to pin me down against the insecurity of the eyes of the neighborhood homeowner’s association. But that would have left some wiggle room. To be sure I didn’t survive the onslaught, my other weaknesses were covered in the several hours before, as conversations bounced off my frailties like a pinball racking up bonus points. Old hurts and fears were brought up in benign ways like viewing harmless artifacts in a museum. But their ghosts lingered and began to swirl around me. I began to remember the painful fear of abandonment, rejection, failure, and isolation as “remember when” and “what if” made themselves at home on my left and right.

This is the climate in which my weigh-in came. I had tried to fasten a pair of shorts and their belt the day before and noticed they were tight like some of my tee shirts had lately begun to feel. I made a commitment then to weigh on Sunday morning. In retrospect, I admit that could surely have been planned better. Seven pounds may not seem like much for a guy who used to gain and lose that in two days, but it is a lot when confirming fears of a delicate balance lost. As much as I tried to remind myself that pounds are not my responsibility, but are the result of many choices which are, I still read the scale, “Seven pounds of failure!”

As my bride and I readied ourselves for church, the casual, if not playful, conversation turned too quickly for the slippery surface of a frightened compulsive overeater faced with failure on a bed of every imaginable insecurity. Wounded, scared, and backed into a corner, I bared my teeth the way any beast, no matter how fluffy or cuddly, will do when cornered. I harmed again, spewing venomous curses, laying down my will like it was law, and issuing threats.

Now, I am sitting in the dark, alone. The isolation and abandonment I feared has become my sentence. That, and the awareness of the uncomfortable constriction of my belt around my waist. She’ll be back. I know this well enough that it should never have been a fear in the first place. But she will not be happy about it. Of that I should have been reverently afraid. My selfishness makes me needlessly and harmfully afraid. To defend myself against the things I fear, I have perpetrated acts that have realized those very fears. Again!

So I admit to God, to myself, and to you the exact nature of my wrongs. I am entirely ready to let God remove my defects of character. I have humbly asked God to remove my shortcomings, have chronicled my harm, and am ready to mend what I have broken.

God, grant me the opportunity to live in a mended fashion, but to trust You to do the mending. Help me to flex rather than snap, to give rather than grab. Help me concern myself with the emotional welfare of those around me rather than what I might lose or fail to attain. You are the owner of all, and I have no reason to insist on anything. May Your will be done, and Your glory magnified!

 

white chipsDear sponsor,

As a result of my recent lack of exercise and increase in girth and weight, I am making a change in my plan of eating (POE). I am reducing my daily energy intake by 150 calories. I also plan to eliminate the daily breakfast egg as well as the single red potato lately taken at suppertime. This will put my caloric target at 2150 rather than 2300. When I get back on my feet and off my butt I will reexamine my energy intake. Until then, I’m splitting the difference between what I have been doing and the RDA of 2000. My food log is still published online at http://www.livestrong.com/thedailyplate/diary/who/TLJax/.

 

 

 

From Darkness to Light

Today’s meditation from Our Daily Bread contained a reference to the following, which I found most instructive for one recovering from addiction:

11 And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. 12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.   (Romans 13:11-14, NKJV)

Do we still make provision for the flesh?  Do we plan to cheat or to substitute one indulgence for the one from which we have declared abstinence?  Does an alcoholic who really wishes to recovery hide a brandy in his footlocker?  No!  We make no provision for the flesh, and what’s more we are continually on alert, inventorying self for harms we do and lusts we have not yet acknowledged, promptly admitting those wrongs and addressing them as thoroughly and as urgently as we did our laundry list from Steps Four and Eight.  The time of darkness has ended for those of us who cast it off in preference for the light.  Praise be to the Father of lights, the only One who can dispel the darkness!

 

Dear Father, today, help me live in Your light and to drive out all the darkness the attempts to remain in me.  Show me where it hides and root it out completely, that all of me would give way to the glory of Your righteousness, the only light I know.

Spiritual Food

BibleReadingHappy Thanksgiving!

This morning’s Morning and Evening devotion by Charles Spurgeon had a great statement that applies to me as a recovering compulsive overeater and as a lifelong professing Christian newly spiritually reborn.

Doctrines held as a matter of creed are like bread in the hand, which ministers no nourishment to the frame; but doctrine accepted by the heart, is as food digested, which, by assimilation, sustains and builds up the body.

Dear Father, today, even as I extend my inadequate thanks to You and celebrate Your provision, fuel me with the reality of Your purpose, light and truth.  Make me Your kingdom warrior and child, about Your kingdom realities, and tending to Your kingdom business.