Tag Archive: disappointment


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)

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Come to Believe

And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. And he was amazed at their unbelief. (Mark 6:5-6, NRSV, from Bible Gateway’s NT in a year)

bound and silentYesterday, I posted about a toxic evil poisoning humanity: sugar. Today, I turn my focus to the toxic evil poisoning the human spirit: doubt. Look carefully at the description of Jesus’ dilemma: “he could do no deed of power there… amazed at their unbelief.” God gave humans a will of their own, and God does not intrude. When God’s will is done on Earth as it is in Heaven, it is because somewhere, a human has called it into effect by aligning his will with God’s and humbly asking for it. When the wills of men clash or run rampant, the result is strife, war, disease, and death. “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).

Check what you know about this. Take a mental poll of the people you know. Don’t most of them believe that the miracles of God were for another generation of people, or that He doesn’t move today the way He did in the Bible? The reason He doesn’t for those people is precisely because they believe that. God does not change. He is not asleep. He has not abandoned us. He is, likely as not, amazed at the unbelief of this generation that binds Him from doing the work He longs to do in our lives. Were we to believe, and humbly submit ourselves to interceding on behalf of those we are called to serve in love, we would see the glory of His power, His love, and His way of life.

Jesus’ neighbors could not see His godship because they were too familiar with his personhood. The women who taught Mary to take care of her firstborn were among them. The men who watched Joseph teach Him to cut, plane, drill, and glue wood were told this was now the One who built the world. Their experience told them something contrary to what they were hearing. It must have been an awkward place for Jesus.

How is it where you are, under the misconceptions of your experiences, hurts and disappointments? The One you blame for the loss of your loved one asks you to believe He is the Resurrection. The One you are certain took that unborn child says He knit you together in your mother’s womb. The One against whom you’ve held a grudge because He did not prevent that terrible thing from happening to you or yours asks you to trust Him with your life and circumstances. Not you! You can’t believe someone who could do all that is worth trusting!

Let me propose a question. If your conception of God is disappointing you, which is more likely: that your conception of God is mistaken, or that God is? It might be time for you to come to believe that the Power greater than all can, and will, restore you to sanity, to wholeness, and to a trusting relationship with Him. Why not erase your grudges against God, and pretend for a moment that He is not the One who snatches away unborn children, kills loved ones, and orchestrates tragedy, but who grieves even more deeply than you at such things. Why not step away from doubt, give God the benefit of being omniscient, and let Him love you the way He has always longed to? God is not sleeping; but your relationship with Him might well be in a coma or worse. Hear Him call you awake. Respond to His touch, and let Him love you alive. The Prince of Peace is standing at your door. All that stands in the way of His power is your doubt.

Dear Father, today, erase my doubt and help me in my unbelief. Wash me of my insecurities and wipe away all my disappointments. Lord, I trust You are God, and from You comes every good and perfect gift (James 1:17). I set my mind to know that it is the enemy who seeks to steal, kill and destroy, and that You are committed to my abundant life both now and forevermore (John 10:10). Help me live in that life even now in this physical body, while I wait for my graduation to be with You for eternity.

Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. (1 John 5:5, NIV)

I was recently talking to an African missionary who told me that miracles happen all the time there. People expect them. Today’s New Testament in a Year reading reminded me that the faith of the subject plays an important role in a miracle even when Jesus is standing right there.

Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith let it be done to you.” (Matthew 9:29, NRSV)

I forgot to mention it, but Saturday, when the forecast was for all-day thunderstorms but we had a mission fundraiser carnival to host, God kept the day beautiful and sunny until the carnival was over, then the sky darkened and the bottom fell out! I think miracles happen for those who have the faith to count on them. In less affluent nations, the population hasn’t been hardened with distrust, and scientific cynicism hasn’t been taught into them since childhood, along with myths like holiday icons and a world of feel-good lies like we tell our children. When Westerners come of age, no wonder so many don’t believe in miracles! We’ve clouded ourselves with disappointments like Santa Claus, “happily ever after,” and “monsters aren’t real.” We’ve trained ourselves that such happy promises are too good to be true.

We aren’t the first perpetrators of these lies; we are merely passing on the lies we were told by the generation before us. We have to ask ourselves, though, how anyone could believe in the invisible God we serve when we make up such other invisible heroes. A calling to share the hope of God’s truth comes with a responsibility to be truthful. There is no such thing as a harmless lie!

Dear Father, today, empower me to overcome the doubt onto which I have trained myself to cling so tightly. Help me to be vigilant about living a life of integrity, so that my testimony would bring You glory, never shame, and never hindrance to the faith of one of Your children.

Surrendering to Freedom

Abstinent Today:

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

Okay, this is a one-day-at-a-time program, so I’m not going to beat myself up about not writing or doing my devotional yesterday, but I am going to re-commit to writing something every day, even if it is not my normal formulated plan.  It was not that I was hiding a relapse, it was just a very busy and otherwise occupied day.

Today and the rest of the week, I am working different hours than normal, and it will have me up later even than normal.  Even so, I got to take a few hours off to attend my prison ministry preparation meeting tonight.  One of the talks was on forgiveness, and I was convicted about a particular person I have not forgiven.  I immediately gave up the resentment the moment I realized it, but I know I will want to have a more in depth talk with God about it later.  This person I need to more completely forgive is dead, so forgiving him is about me, not about addressing him.

 

 

From today’s entry in Voices of Recovery:

“…compulsive overeating is removed on a daily basis… achieved through the process of surrendering…” — Overeaters Anonymous, Second Edition, p. 3

It is interesting to me to see how surrender is never a once-and-done kind of thing.  It can always be done more completely and my human nature seems to reset itself every day, so that I have to re-surrender again at least that often.  Gratitude helps, but it is not the same thing as surrender.  There is a weird irony to surrendering to God, though.  One might consider the consequences of surrendering to be shackles and chains or a prisoner of war camp, but when I surrender to God I am actually freed from the bonds that drag me down, liberated to live in vitality like I have never known before.  It is a miracle of transformation, and He does it faithfully every time I submit.  My joy is not circumstantial, because it has come in dire situations as long as I was surrendered to His will, and it has left me when I had nothing to fret about but had taken up my will again and begun to serve myself.  The contributor to today’s VOR entry wrote of a mistrust that (s)he “would not find comfort and relaxation without food.”  When I have made my fears weightier than my trust, my worry over my own comfort or pleasure heavier than my desire to see God’s purposes fulfilled, I have lost my sense of ease, and finding myself agitated, I have often relapsed into insane thinking and feelings, sometimes even about food, though (thanks be to God) I have not eaten in those situations yet.

I am convinced that I will not be pleased, happy, or comfortable with every situation I get in.  I know that, and I accept that. I know that my level of pleasure, happiness or comfort is not a measure of my value, which has already been designated by my Creator as “worth dying for.”  So, for Him, I am willing to endure hardship and misfortune as long as I know as I read tonight in Isaiah 49:15-16, “I will not forget you!  See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.

Lord, I know there are scars on your palms from nails which pierced You for my transgressions.  When I see them, I will not be able to see anything else but Your love for me.  Thank You for never leaving me nor forsaking me, and for being with me always, even to the very end.  I have been disappointed before by human love which grew cold, promises which were not kept, and relationships which abandoned me.  Thank You for being human enough to reach me but divine enough to never love in such a way that would desert me.  You make me whole because You love me wholly.  Help me love like that!  I want to be more like You.

 

 

 

From Proverbs 5, NIV:

22 The evil deeds of the wicked ensnare them;
the cords of their sins hold them fast.

I know this one often comes out of my Proverbs 5 reading, but it seems important to remember, given the thoughts recorded above, that what binds me is not the result of God, but the result of my rebellion from Him.  As I served myself, my self-service hobbled my legs, bound my hands, and then it weighed my whole body down.  God is a liberator!  The bondage was no one’s fault but my own.

 

 

From my reading through the Bible, currently in Hebrews 12, NIV:

1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.

10b but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

What a great chapter to read while considering the bondage of self and the liberty of God’s redemption!  I really have nothing to add except my own exclamation of gratitude: Halleluiah!

Cultivate Your holiness in me, Lord Jesus, and give me grace to endure Your reconstruction with diligent effort and not sloth or self-pity.  Help me to be useful now, even while I look forward to the useful into which You will make me.

 

From the “Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous, page 84:

That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change.

 

 

Footnotes:

*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.

Sunday, 2013-06-02

Abstinent Today:

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

Today my feelings of failure have returned en masse!  I have been plagued by feelings of failure regarding marriage since the demise of my first one.  I thought that a new one would bring relief, but it usually just serves to point out that, no matter with whom or where I go, I will still be there, and my defects, if left unresolved, will be there too.  Today, however, I am feeling a failure at parenting.  Yesterday, I discovered that my son has lied to me about the personal effects he sold at the pawn shops, some of them only on loan to him from family members and not his to sell, but never to be retrieved because he “sold” them rather than “pawned” them.  Today, my more responsible boomerang child called to tell me her brand new car was just struck by the family junkie, who was begging her not to call the police or to tell the police that an unknown hit-and-run driver smashed her car.  She called me, not to ask whether to call the police (a lesson I have sternly taught her due to her failures to do so in the past) but to ask me whether she should lie to the police upon their arrival.  I cannot think of a clearer way to demonstrate that I have failed to teach integrity above all than for both of my children to err so grievously in a 24-hour period!

I am reminded of two things.  First, that a man once walked up to me after we shared a group prayer, and said that the Lord told him to tell me, “You have not failed me, my son!”  My mind has not forgotten that, although my spirit often does.  Second, that the Supreme Heavenly Father of us all has borne much more disappointment from me, and from the rest of His children as well.   Isaiah 53:6 says, “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way,” and we have!  I have!  Who am I to be disgusted with anyone for turning to the way of selfishness, when I have been one of the worst practitioners?  “Train up a child in the way he should go,” the Proverb says, “and when he is old he will not depart from it.”  It says nothing about adolescents!  I think in order to truly repent in the sense that we return to God, there is apparently some turning away, some testing the limits, or discovery that people may have to experience.  Maybe if only to fulfill the words of Isaiah’s prophecy.  I know I did.  I yelled at my own father, demanding that he allow me to make my own mistakes.  Now it seems mine are doing the same with less drama and noise.

It hurts to let them!  God, it hurts!

 

 

 

From today’s entry in Voices of Recovery:

Before coming to OA, I spent my whole life expecting God and other people to solve my problems. I never tried to do what I could—my part.

I don’t know how helpful it is for me to think that I have power over even the smallest atom of God’s creation, but this I know: I can get out of His way!  It is ridiculous how much time I spend whining for God’s divine revelation of His will for my life, all the while gripping and grabbing for as much of my own will as I can hold onto and more.  A large majority of my questions about God’s will are answered in His Word, and yet I tend to busy myself with selfish interests rather than seek those answers out.  More and more, I am becoming convinced that “my part” is just to stop hindering God from doing His best in and around me.  I need to get out of His way even more than I need to figure out what His way is.  “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the LORD.” (Isaiah 55:8)

God, as I offer myself to You to build and do with me as You will, please keep me from flinching and squirming on your operating table.  Cause me to be at peace, content to know that You are doing a good work in me and those around me, and that even your cutting and shaping is for the good of those on whom You are working.

 

 

 

From Proverbs 2, NIV:

7 He holds success in store for the upright,

he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless,

8 for he guards the course of the just

and protects the way of his faithful ones.

This chapter opens with a bunch of “if” statements and then, right in the middle of the “then” promises comes this testimony of God’s ultimate goodness toward His faithful ones.  These words leave little doubt that God’s work on behalf of those who are His is complete and secure.  I am repeatedly reminded by God’s Word that what He has is store is good.  I do not know why I resist!

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

 

 

 

 

 

From my reading through the Bible, currently in 2 Corinthians 9, NIV:

10 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.

12 This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.

This reads to me like a promise of a resounding “Yes!” in answer to our Third Step prayer.  Notice that, just as in the prayer, victory over our difficulties is not for our good alone, but to increase the usefulness of our testimony to help others.  Here, our enrichment comes not so we can gorge ourselves on indulgences, but so we can be generous to the glory of God.

Father, make it so.  May my life bring You glory!

 

From the “Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous, page 50:

Here are thousands of men and women, worldly indeed. They flatly declare that since they have come to believe in a Power greater than themselves, to take a certain attitude toward that Power, and to do certain simple things, there has been a revolutionary change in their way of living and thinking. In the face of collapse and despair, in the face of the total failure of their human resources, they found that a new power, peace, happiness, and sense of direction flowed into them.

 

 

 

 

Footnotes:

*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.