Tag Archive: honesty


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)

In the Gardener’s Hands

Abstinent Today:

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

 

 

From today’s entry in Voices of Recovery:

“My Higher Power knows what is best for me, and turning the direction of my life over to Him gives me the freedom and the serenity that are the cornerstones of my program.”

Life-saving epiphany number one for me was, “My way is not the only way.”   Gradually, I came to accept, through the recovery program of Overeaters Anonymous, that my way was, in fact, toxic.  This confirmed that which I had been taught in Sunday School since childhood but to which a sense of superiority blinded me.  A selfish, haughty part of me translated all the Gospel of my Higher Power to address it to those, they, and them.  I was somehow elevated above the real depravity, and therefore only felt in need of a sprinkling of grace to gain admission to the “happy throng” of His believers, but living just outside the joy in the gallery of conflicted fakers multiplied my unhappiness.  There is a vast difference between believing that He is and recognizing I’m not.  And that was Step One.

My way or self-will is, in a nutshell, what is wrong with me.  All my character defects are the sour fruits sprouting from the pit of my selfishness, and it is that core nature that I have to slay and set aside daily in order to allow the sweet fruits of the Spirit to blossom and grow in my life.

in the Gardeners handsPapa, my precious Savior, remove the root of bitterness from deep within my heart.  Take it cleanly from me, tendrils and all.  I know it has sprouted hate and discontent through much of me, but I also know that you are the Master Gardener (John 15:1), able to restore, renew, and resurrect.  I know that You prune lives and cast worthless reeds into the consuming fire, and that You wield the Sword of the Spirit, sharper than any double-edged sword, able to separate soul and spirit (Hebrews 4:12).  If I were to attempt removal of my own bitterness, it would only sprout again, but You can remove it completely.  Take my life, Lord, and sift it clean.  Stir me and aerate me with Your Spirit and bring fresh life to where there had been only bitter darkness before.  Grow me into something I could not have dreamed, a loving servant, pleasing to You.  May You find the fruit of my life sweet, fragrant and satisfying.  God be glorified!

 

 

 

From Proverbs 23:

and put a knife to your throat
if you are given to gluttony.”

This verse repels me every time I read it.  In our time and society the phrase “put a knife to your throat” suggests a dramatic scene in which a desperate man is either threatening or committing suicide right in the middle of dinner.   I did a little research.  According to Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible, the knife is a figure of restraint, both of what goes down the gullet and what pours out of the heart.  “Repress thy appetite, and do not be incontinent of speech. Eat, drink, and converse, under a check.”  Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible interprets it this way: “…restrain thine appetite; deny thyself of some things agreeable, that would lead thee to what might be hurtful, at least if indulged to excess: put as it were a knife unto thine appetite, and mortify it…”  The underlying theme of this chapter of Proverbs is self-denial, abstinence from the luxuries of the self-indulgent, so this view of the verse seems right.

The clause “if you are given” reminds me that not all people are so enslaved; and that, as one who is by nature given to gluttony, I will have to make special arrangements my whole life, adjusting to my circumstances, and being ever-vigilant against those things that I might have to fend from my throat as with a blade.

 

 

 

 

From my reading through the Bible, currently in Mark 3:

Jesus tested religious tradition, showing preference for loving-kindness, and in so doing fanned the flame of His enemies’ hatred into murderous rage (vs. 1-6).   He withdrew from the crowds who pressed in merely for their physical healing (vs. 7-10).  He silenced spirits who threatened to prematurely reveal His divine nature (vs. 11-12).  He chose His elect, even the betrayer (vs. 13-19).  He was inconvenienced, deprived, and accused of lunacy even by his own family (vs. 20-21).  He taught of spiritual forces and of division, and turned the spiritual kingdom parable into a sentence for the condemned and a lesson for the disciples.

28 ‘I tell you the truth, all the sins and blasphemies of men will be forgiven them. 29 But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin.’

30 He said this because they were saying, ‘He has an evil spirit.’”

This is the only unpardonable sin according to Scripture, so it bears marking, especially since mankind is often quick to denounce as evil anything difficult to understand or explain.  Christ’s message, however, was never about separation but of relationship, and He established that again when His family tried to press in to extricate Him from the crowd.

34 Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.’”

I choose relationship!  I choose fraternity with Emmanuel and obedience to God.  Father, help me today to live in Your will, in the name of the blessed Brother Jesus, and by the power of Your Holy Spirit which binds me to You.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From the “Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous, page 28:

“If what we have learned and felt and seen means anything at all, it means that all of us, whatever our race, creed, or color are the children of a living Creator with whom we may form a relationship upon simple and understandable terms as soon as we are willing and honest enough to try.”

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Today:

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

Yesterday was filled with beautiful things, and today may be just as wonderful.  I have lots to do today in preparation for returning to work tomorrow.  Family visits and my daughter’s birthday preempted my attendance at a couple recovery meetings in the past week, but I hope to make it to tonight’s.

I’m not weighing in regularly, but only about every three weeks or so.  Today, I got on the scale and found myself 4 pounds low.  The added activity my new bicycle provides may account for some of this unintentional weight-loss.  I won’t sweat it, but will add something to my workday plan of eating so that I finish in the upper half of my daily target for a while.

From today’s entry in Voices of Recovery:

“Cultivate humble gratitude that you were fortunate enough to find out what was wrong with you before it was too late.” — Before You Take That First Compulsive Bite, Remember…

My attitude is one of the few things of which I actually do have control.  An attitude is made of three things: thoughts, feelings, and behavior.  To cultivate a new attitude, I need to make changes in at least one of these three factors.  The worthwhile attitudes that help me get the most out of life are humility, openness, and willingness.  From humility comes gratitude, from openness comes acceptance, and from willingness comes action which, when combined with belief constitutes faith.  The great thing about these attitudes and their counterparts is that they can be practiced in reverse and still take effect.   For instance, I can either take a posture of humility which makes me grateful, or I can demonstrate gratitude and, from that, learn humility.

One of the practical ways I cultivate humble gratitude is to spend moments in thankful prayer for those who have come before me in Overeaters Anonymous – my sponsors, the fellows who welcomed me into the rooms, the writers of our literature – and for the pioneers of Alcoholics Anonymous before them.  I thank God for helping them to blaze this path, and I thank Him for leading me to find it behind them.  Another way I live out my gratitude for recovery from this disease God has helped me to identify is to follow the program of recovery diligently, representing it as best I can, and reaching out to others whom God may be directing on a similar course.  While cynical philosophers may claim that “living well is the best revenge,” humble gratitude is the posture I can take that allows God to miraculously turn my living well into a tool of service, as the best amends I could ever make to myself and the lives I touch.

From Proverbs 18:

20 From the fruit of his mouth a man’s stomach is filled;
with the harvest from his lips he is satisfied.

21 The tongue has the power of life and death,
and those who love it will eat its fruit.”

The power of words cannot be overstated.  God spoke and all Creation took shape.  Similarly, as we confess with our mouths our spirits are re-born, and through prayer are continually formed.  What we declare we become.  This is why it is so important that we spend time affirming what we know and encouraging one another.  These two verses seem to help complete each other and, as promising as fulfilled satisfaction sounds, contain a warning that there is a speech that kills.  It is the speech with which many compulsive overeaters and addicts are far too familiar: the nay-saying self-abasement and character assassination we perpetrate on ourselves.  Regardless of whether we direct negative criticism at ourselves or others, it goes down in gulps to our inmost being and rots there, leaving us writhing in self-pity and fatal despair.  Such toxic mouthfuls have no business in the abundant life of recovery.  From such poison fruit I will abstain!

Heavenly Father, help me to help and never harm with the words I speak.  Whether in mind, tongue or script, use the utterances of my soul as a mouthpiece for Your healing, loving Spirit.  Free me from criticism!

From my reading through the Bible, currently in Isaiah 50:

Isaiah spoke of Israel as the child of a wife sold for a debt, who would not answer when the Redeemer came to collect them to Himself.  In the middle of the description of the Lord’s Servant, who would offer His back to be beaten and his beard to be pulled out in the face of His accusers, there is a word about His connection to the spoken word of God: 

The Sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue,
to know the word that sustains the weary.
He wakens me morning by morning,
wakens my ear to listen like one being taught.”

The desire of my heart is to be instructed by God to be useful to Him and helpful to others.  I would like to follow the pattern of the One about whom this was written, and to have my ears awakened to the Word of God.

From the “Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous, pages 13 and 14:

“My friend promised when these things were done I would enter upon a new relationship with my Creator; that I would have the elements of a way of living which answered all my problems. Belief in the power of God, plus enough willingness, honesty and humility to establish and maintain the new order of things, were the essential requirements.”

Today:

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

 

Yesterday is gone.  It didn’t go quite the way I would have liked, but that very fact secured an opportunity for me to prove that I am committed to accepting God’s will. My son’s hope for military enlistment was deferred for one year.  That is an eternity to an adolescent, so I had an opportunity to speak words of encouragement that, perhaps, strengthened the relationship between us.  Overall, any day I spend doing God’s will, not mine, is a good day.

 

From today’s entry in Voices of Recovery:

“…Step Seven calls for us to adopt an attitude of humility.” — The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous, p. 59

 

The diseased attitude of vanity is so deadly because it elevates our authority and diminishes our value.  When I was living like I believed I was in charge, I was a constant disappointment because the world wasn’t perfect.  Since those around me weren’t acting according to my will, they were all disappointments too, and the world turned on the axis of my self-centered will, rising in my insecurity and setting in my resentments.  To me, humility is simply the recognition that God has been politely waiting for me to get out of His seat on the throne of my life.  The irony of humility is that, though I thought climbing down to the level of His feet would leave me dejected and ashamed, after He picked me up, called me His “child,” and put me on His lap, the view of the universe became even better than when I tried to fill that big empty chair all by myself.  Papa never wanted me to hate myself or others, but I couldn’t have accepted that I was worth loving if I remained in charge.  My opinion of myself was far too low, and my self-appointed authority was far too high.

 

When I am looking off to what I want, and I cannot see God, there is only one thing between me and God – my own head.  There is only one solution – to turn around.  Turning from what I want and accepting, instead, relationship with God, I find I am lifted up, not squashed down; I am given more of what I need though I feared I would receive less.  Repentance, making a “you-turn” in the course of one’s life, is an amazingly miraculous paradox!

 

From Proverbs 3:

Wise Solomon instructs his son about the True Father:

11 My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline
and do not resent his rebuke,
12 because the Lord disciplines those he loves,
as a father[b] the son he delights in.”

 

An appropriate attitude of humility provides a grateful acceptance of God’s correction as a blessing, not a curse.  The more I seek God’s will, the less I fret about not having mine, and the more mine actually becomes like His.  He does not ask me to do His will just to deprive me of mine, but because, in His omniscience, He knows a better way than the hazardous one I might have chosen.  His way always works best!  And He does have things He wants me to learn, sometimes by experience, especially when my will still stands in the way.

 

34 He mocks proud mockers
but gives grace to the humble.”

 

Relationship is the prescription of the Father for His hurting children.  It is in Him that I find myself enough.  It is in my connection to Him that I am not rejected by correction, but perfected by it.

 

Jason Gray sings of this in his song, “Remind Me Who I Am.”

 

From my reading through the Bible, currently in Isaiah 33:

This is really amazing!  The topic of humility and the relationship that comes from submission to God leads right into the prophecy of Isaiah in this chapter.

 

O Lord, be gracious to us;
we long for you.
Be our strength every morning,
our salvation in time of distress.”

 

The Lord is exalted, for he dwells on high;
he will fill Zion with justice and righteousness.
He will be the sure foundation for your times,
a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge;
the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure.[a]

 

He just fits His throne so much better than we ever could!  Even though the woe of the world is pronounced in terms of a consuming fire, the salvation of God is revealed in those who have established relationship with Him.  As I mentioned, the view from His lap is better than from any position to which we might have elevated ourselves.

 

17 Your eyes will see the king in his beauty
and view a land that stretches afar.”

 

From the “Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous, pages 1314:

“Belief in the power of God, plus enough willingness, honesty and humility to establish and maintain the new order of things, were the essential requirements.”

Deliverance Has Come!

Today:

I am abstinent by the grace of God, one more day at a time.  For details, check out my food journal.

“Hosanna!”  This ancient urgent plea for rescue has become a celebration of deliverance.  The Great Saver has come!  This is my favorite week of the year.  Beginning with Palm Sunday, the commemoration of Christ’s arrival into Jerusalem in fanfare, this week took my Higher Power through the gamut, from fame to fatality, but rebounded with the Resurrection.  Ever have a bad week?  His was worse!  But it was worse for a reason: so I could experience His love and relationship.  It was to Himself become the final sacrificial Passover Lamb that would buy our readmission into kinship with God.  For any who do not share this with me, I invite to experience the saving grace of my Higher Power, Jesus Christ, Jeshua – God with us, Immanuel, the Deliverer, the Promised One of the line of David!

Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”  (Luke 23:42)

 

From today’s entry in Voices of Recovery:

“This (Step Four’s searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves) requires complete disclosure and absolute honesty. I can make no excuses for my behavior, only a bare-bones examination of my conduct.

One can’t properly do Step Five’s disclosure of the “exact nature of our wrongs” until we get completely honest about our searching inventory.  To make excuses during this process would be like leaving off the lights of our warehouse and fumbling with our tally sheet in the dark.  A searching and fearless inventory has all the lights on and opens every carton, examining each and every element.  Never can we be rid of what we do not acknowledge.

From Proverbs Chapter 1:

25 …since you ignored all my advice and would not accept my rebuke, 26 I in turn will laugh at your disaster; I will mock when calamity overtakes you.

Rejecting wisdom cuts one off from its benefits, much like attempting moral inventories in the blind.  The mocker will be mocked and the excuse-giver will hear excuses, but they will hear these taunts from outside the walls of Wisdom’s house.  Her open invitation does not last forever.

From my reading through the Bible, currently in Psalm 2:

12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry and you be destroyed in your way, for his wrath can flare up in a moment.  Blessed are all who take refuge in him.”

I am moved by Old Testament references to the Gospel of the New Testament, and this is a great day to celebrate one.   Blessed are all who take refuge in the Son!

From the “Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous, “Women Suffer Too” page 206:

There is another meaning for the Hebrew word that in the King James version of the Bible is translated ‘salvation.’ It is: ‘to come home.’ I had found my salvation. I wasn’t alone any more. That was the beginning of a new life, a fuller life, a happier life than I had ever known or believed possible.

 

OD@aT:

Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.”  3 John 2