Tag Archive: isolation


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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18 As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed by demons begged him that he might be with him. 19 But Jesus refused, and said to him, “Go home to your friends, and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and what mercy he has shown you.” (Mark 5:18-19, NRSV)

spiritual isolationDelivered from the bondage of my own captors, I too have been instructed by Jesus to wait until our reunion and to be faithful until then to share with others how much the Lord has done for me. Should I turn away dejected and pout until my King comes for me? Or shall I rejoice that His Spirit lives within me and tell you of the wonders of His mercy? My heart chooses to sing of His grace!

In His gentleness He patiently waited for me to explore countless options and to do even more harm to myself as I struggled to prove my might over trouble and my right over others. When I feared rejection and abandonment, my fear gave way to rage, and as I exercised my will and flexed it in the direction of those around me the crowd around me grew thin. Vexed with the pain of loss and the fear of more, I retreated from social contact and hid in dark despair. I wound around me spiritual chains of hate which manifested themselves as bands of fat. So complete was my covering that I ceased to be me, but was “fat.” I was very much like the unnamed man in this story, identified by the legion of spiritual attackers that tormented me even more than my own identity. Then Jesus came to my cave. What a wondrous day! He closed the distance and called me from the insanity of self. Like Lazarus, I heard Him call for me to rise and walk in newness of Life. I stand with Him resurrected, my flesh and all its desires nailed to a cross next to His. I am never alone as long as His Spirit burns within me. A clay vessel of His warm, loving light, I remain where He has sent me, shining for you, dear friends, to see the mercy the Lord has shown me.

Dear Father, today, keep me faithful to my commission to show Your mercy to my friends and represent what You have done for me. Keep my sinful nature fastened to that cross and burn inside me with a passionate flame. Make my life a lamp in which others may see You, be drawn to You, and glorify Your Name.

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20, NIV)

Abstinent Today:

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

Today, I found myself trying to come up with a valid excuse for not going to the gym.  While I lay in bed, having stopped the “go to the gym” alarm on my phone, I began to pray, “God, I offer myself to You, to build with me and to do with me as You will.”  And then it hit me: I can’t be molded by the Master if I refuse to get on His wheel.  Merely getting up today was an act of worship, and submitting to God’s will instead of my own regarding my healthy action continued the worship.  I am looking forward to continuing my acts of worship in the cathedral of His presence everywhere I go.

 

From today’s entry in Voices of Recovery:

The fat was only the physical manifestation of the cocoon I had built to isolate myself from the pain of living. What I really needed was a Higher Power to control my life and help me deal with my feelings, fears, and insecurities.

Fat is hate’s physical form, in the body of a compulsive overeater.  It is a manifestation of all the resentment, fear, worry, and anxiety we build up as we work our way through all the disappointments and regrets of life.  With each one, we become a little less willing to extend ourselves or allow ourselves to be open to the reach and vulnerability of anyone who resembles those who have hurt us in the past.  Eventually, as resentments grow, the number of people we are willing to trust dwindles to zero, and we find ourselves despising everyone in existence.  Even a knowledge of the saving grace of God does not seem to cut through the layers of isolation we build for ourselves when that amount of hate accompanies it.  In order to be free, we have to address our hurts, acknowledge them and the obstacles between us and the application of that saving grace, and reach out for the God who freely gives it.  I knew about God, but I never really allowed Him to know me in a meaningful relationship.  I imagine that most of us cut off God first of all our relationships.  Most of us have some erroneous belief that, in order to have a relationship with God, we have to be perfect or, worse yet, apparently perfect.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  God demonstrated that we were worth dying for, not when we were perfect, but while we were in the midst of our most disgusting sin.

 

 

From Proverbs 16, NIV:

1 To humans belong the plans of the heart,
but from the Lord comes the proper answer of the tongue.

In their hearts humans plan their course,
but the Lord establishes their steps.

The promise of help here overwhelms me!  As a man with character defects revolving around speech, I find this very personal.  As much as I want, wish, will and worry myself about taming my tongue, the proper thing to say will come from God, not me.  Likewise for my actions and progress through life according to verse 9.  Why be timid about taking a step when the Lord will plant my foot where He will?  Where God firms a step, what could threaten its security?

 

From my reading through the Bible, currently in 1 Peter 4, NIV:

As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Verse two, which speaks of those of us who suffer in the body, encapsulates my recovery since I took Step Three for the first time.  The rest I could not overlook because it is so instructive.  I found all the highlights of my purpose, power and provision mentioned here along with some help for my speech issues.  Somehow I cannot imagine God using some of the words that spew from my mouth!  They do not bring God praise but, especially as I am now known more for my faith than for anything else about me, they serve to detract from my witness and mar my testimony.

 

From the “Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous, page 8:

No words can tell of the loneliness and despair I found in that bitter morass of self-pity. Quicksand stretched around me in all directions.

 

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.

Friday, 2013-07-05

Abstinent Today:

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

 

 

From today’s entry in Voices of Recovery:

When I say the (serenity) prayer, I am asking for the willingness to accept everything and the courage to change only myself. Only with the acceptance of this simple fact comes the serenity I seek.

Except for the circumstances of need which we can meet, I find this to be true.  I have to keep in mind that, though my sanity comes in recognizing the futility of desiring to change everything and everyone, my purpose only comes in capitalizing the opportunities God has orchestrated for me to help others.  “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  (Ephesians 2:10)  It takes wisdom, also called discernment, which God gives to any who asks, to be able to recognize inconvenience as opportunity.  It takes serenity along with patience and loving kindness to be able to adjust our plan and will to accommodate such openings.  And it takes courage to step outside our own expectations to deliver to a fellow human in their occasion of need.  To miss out on these ministry moments is to incarcerate myself back in that old dungeon of isolation which imprisoned me from fulfilling my purpose in the first place.

 

 

 

From Proverbs 5, NIV:

23 For lack of discipline they will die,
    led astray by their own great folly.

I hurt for the deluded self-indulgent.  I wish there were more opportunity for me to reach into such lives and show them grace.  The problem is most are numb to their own need.  Pain is the sensitivity to the fact that something is amiss, and most of us, as this recovering compulsive overeater can attest, have become proficient in masking our pain with more self-indulgence until oblivion to truth is further complicated by the whirlwind of emotional turbulence stacked on physiological imbalance.  The whole tilt-a-whirl is set about by the lack of discipline that God can help establish through a little willingness and humble reliance on Him.

 

 

 

From my reading through the Bible, currently in 1 Timothy 2, NIV:

For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people.

What an amazing miracle God accomplished in presenting Himself to the world in human form in the life of Jesus Christ!  Who else could mediate between Heaven and Earth except One who was of both – who was both fully God and fully man?  In this passage is also a contradiction to the many voices in the head of those darkened by spiritual disease.  The lie says we are without value; the Truth says we are worth God leaving Heaven and dying to rescue.  How worthless can we be if the Creator of the universe found us worth dying for?  I choose to accept God’s value of me rather than mine, just like I choose to do God’s will for me rather than mine. 

The verses that precede this excerpt demonstrate that the will of God is that all would come to a saving knowledge of His grace (v.4).  There is also a call to intercessory prayer (v.1), a ministry opportunity on which I really must spend more of my time and energy.

 

 

 

From the “Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous, pages 52 and 53:

We agnostics and atheists were sticking to the idea that self-sufficiency would solve our problems. When others showed us that “God-sufficiency” worked with them, we began to feel like those who had insisted the Wrights would never fly.

 

 

 

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.

Abstinent Today:

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

I hope I never become so infected with fear that I intentionally mutilate my body just to avoid the possibility of disease.  Where does it end?  There is a certain chPhoto credit: Armando Mota/European Pressphoto Agency (via New York Times - Click for source.)ance I will be hit by a car.  Shall I avoid all motor vehicle traffic?  Certainly not!  Germs float around in the air and on the breath of every person I meet.  Should I hide from everyone and live in a bubble?  Not if I want to do the job of ministering to others I was created for!

I am no better than anyone else where this is concerned!  We compulsive eaters have been cutting ourselves off from healthy wholeness most of our lives by indulging our senses and appetites.  Our fears and regrets played tug-of-war with our emotions until “Aaahhhh!  Yummm!” seemed to at least make the hurting go away for a brief moment, but we were never left happy afterwards, or healed, or safe.  Ironically, we moved ourselves that much closer to disaster by our indulgence, into risks, malfunction and disease we perhaps had not even imagined before.  That’s no way to live!

Dear Father, today, help me be grateful for the opportunities You orchestrate for me to be helpful, rather than to fear the obstacles that lead me to them.  Help me never seek to preserve what You would have me give up, or to let go of what You have given me to keep.  God, bless those who hurt so deeply or fear so greatly that they would harm themselves to hide from their fears.  Rescue the perishing, and employ me to help if I can!

 

 

From today’s entry in Voices of Recovery:

“One Day at a Time” — Program slogan

I love this slogan, and I love its cousin statement, “one moment at a time.”  Fear has a way of multiplying the worst possible outcome until it seems so undefeatable that we cower in place, paralyzed by our own imaginations or, worse yet, take action that puts us in harm’s way.  Likewise, regret is a chain that we hold onto by choice, and living my present moment frees me to let go of the slave-bonds to my past.

I was thinking about this slogan and its part in my daily writing.  I used to write an email once a week in which I included the highlights from my week, the meetings I attended, my Bible readings, the devotional thoughts I wrote down, anything noteworthy I found in my journal from that period, and I would send it to a select few recovery fellows.  My sponsor used to answer such emails with a typical one-line response, “One day at a time!”  Back then I thought what he was trying to get me to do was write every day, so I did, and still do.  I have no idea if that was his intent, but it began a habit that has gone on for a couple years now.  Likely as not, he was just encouraging me to let go of the hurts of my seven-day spells, which I also have learned to do, but I thought it was amusing how things get started.

 

 

 

From Proverbs 16, NIV:

19 Better to be lowly in spirit along with the oppressed

than to share plunder with the proud.

This goes along with the admonition of Paul to the Corinthians from the other day, when he said, “Why not rather be wronged?” (1 Cor. 6:7)  I would rather be wronged or oppressed than to cause someone to stumble on my account.

What if a medical supply company was peddling a new testing procedure that it could stand to make millions on if given the right publicity, and a certain celebrity used the new testing procedure and subsequently took drastic action that was bound to receive media attention in just the right type and amount that medical company needed?  Now imagine that, because of her (or his) public endorsement, thousands of people flocked to their hospitals to buy the testing procedure to assuage or confirm their fears, and then commenced to mutilate their bodies all for the sake of that same fear?  Would you want to be party to that process?  Even if there was a substantial stipend paid for each subscribing victim, would you want to be in any way responsible for the howling laughter in Hell over such a temporal victory as they had won over so many?  Not me!

I say again: God save the fearful!  Let me reflect hope wherever I go!

 

 

 

From my reading through the Bible, currently in 1 Corinthians 10, NIV:

24 No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.

31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32 Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— 33 even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.

It’s when I read things like this after writing things like I have above that I feel confirmed by the Spirit.

 

 

From the “Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous, page 61:

Admitting he may be somewhat at fault, he is sure that other people are more to blame. He becomes angry, indignant, self-pitying. What is his basic trouble? Is he not really a self-seeker even when trying to be kind? Is he not a victim of the delusion that he can wrest satisfaction and happiness out of this world if he only manages well? Is it not evident to all the rest of the players that these are the things he wants? And do not his actions make each of them wish to retaliate, snatching all they can get out of the show? Is he not, even in his best moments, a producer of confusion rather than harmony?

 

 

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.