Tag Archive: judgment


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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See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. (Matthew10:16, NRSV)

This means that, as transformed followers of the Way, we are not called to be ignorant, gullible, or stupid. We are supposed to be on the lookout for trouble and protect one another as we group together in fellowship, like a flock. As I recover from compulsive overeating, I am tempted to address my character defects and wish them completely away, but judgmental transformed is not gullible; it’s discerning. The difference is how I treat people.

If Person X is suffering of spiritual sickness accompanied with diarrhea of the mouth and I treat her like a leper or attack her like a virus, I am being judgmental. The recovering Christ-follower, however, welcomes, includes, shares hope, seeks to understand, and comes alongside to accompany the wayward life out of the swamp of self, all while maintaining due caution to avoid being pulled down into the mire themselves.

“Shrewd as serpents” another translation says. I have heard it described as “In the world, but not of it.” Revelation 3:4 commends the Church of Sardis for having a few people who have not soiled their white spiritual clothes. These were called “worthy” and promised fellowship with the One who sent the Revelation.

Dear Father, today, I confess that the worldly experiences I’ve had tend to make me bitter and resentful. Grant me peace to keep the lessons of my hurts but let go of the regrets. Turn my pain into passion, and use it to empower me to help tend the rest of the flock. Help me share my experience so that others might avoid my encounters with trouble. Help me live in such a way as not to sully the white robe You repeatedly wash in the blood of the Lamb, so that I will be welcome in His company.

Abstinent Today:

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

I had a busy day today, with homework and getting things ready for tomorrow’s back-to-work day.  I even missed an opportunity to see my visiting brother and his children off from their brief visit to my parent’s home nearby.

From today’s entry in Voices of Recovery:

mending fabricNow I see that the miracle of the (Step Nine) work is often of a different nature. Sometimes it is right in front of me, operating daily in my life.

The nature of amends is not of confrontation or even apology, although those two things help to bring broken pieces back together.  Mending takes more than reintroduction of two alienated parties, or of acknowledging whatever tore them apart.  It takes new stitching, but these stitches are sewn by living the spiritual principles of humility, service, love, patience, understanding and the like.  As the bobbin of unselfish action weaves in and out through our relationships, we find that some of them can become just like new.

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

17 But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. 18 They said to you, “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.” 19 These are the people who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.

20 But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.

Jude, likely the brother of Christ, wrote this very short letter to warn the early Christians of the divisive heretics and antichrists that had already begun to infiltrate their number.  Unfortunately, Church history has proved that such ungodly people have been active ever since.  Self-interest and worldly ambition has been a major cause of divisions in the Church, which was set about to be a unified body.  Jude says about such people, “11 Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error; they have been destroyed in Korah’s rebellion.”  The common trait of all three of these characters is greed and a desire to do things their own way.  Cain wanted to offer vegetables from his garden instead of meat from the flocks, and when his offering was rejected, he killed his brother in a rage and was exiled (Genesis 4).   Greedy Balaam, a prophet of God, chased after a contract with God’s enemies to prophesy against God’s people for money, until his donkey spoke to chastise him.  In the end, he suffered the fate of the kings of Midian, Israel’s enemies, with whom he had taken company (Numbers 31).  Korah organized a rebellion against Moses and Aaron, and was swallowed up along with his families and everything they owned, when God opened up the ground beneath them (Numbers 16).  Every one of these has something in common with the disease of those in their active addiction: self-will is in charge.  Jude warns that Sodom and Gomorrah were examples of the fiery destruction that awaits the selfish such as these (verse 7).

Thanks be to God, there is an alternative, and Jude puts it nicely in verse 20, when he recommends that we keep in God’s love by building ourselves up in hoy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit.  Scripture, especially in Proverbs and the Psalms, is full of admonition to stay on the path, to avoid straying.  Jesus even spoke, in the Parable of the Sower and Seed, about those who would receive the Truth at first, but then allow it to be choked out by the distractions of life, or from whom the Truth is snatched away by the deceiver (Mark 4, also Matthew 13, Luke 8).

The faithful need to remember two things: to guard against association with (and that includes personally doing the work of) the deceivers, and to be diligent about prayer and the exercise of holy faith.

Precious Lord, please keep me in Your grace, and never let me, by my natural selfishness, in any way hinder Your Church or harm Your people.  Keep my hands and lips from doing the work of the destroyer, but put me about the business of building up Your Church, of preparing her as a bride for her bridegroom.  Should I build walls, dear Lord, may it be as Nehemiah, strengthening our outer defense, and never dividing members of Your body from the unity for which You commissioned us and for which our Savior prayed, “that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.” (John 17:21, NKJV)

From “the Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous, page 82:

The alcoholic is like a tornado roaring his way through the lives of others. Hearts are broken. Sweet relationships are dead. Affections have been uprooted. Selfish and inconsiderate habits have kept he home in turmoil. We feel a man is unthinking when he says that sobriety is enough.

 

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.

‡ From “Our Invitation to You” out of Overeater’s Anonymous:  “The OA recovery program is patterned after that of Alcoholics Anonymous. We use AA’s Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, changing only the words ‘alcohol’ and ‘alcoholic’ to ‘food’ and ‘compulsive overeater.’

Abstinent Today:

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

Today begins my fall term of school.  Since I am only taking online classes this semester, my commute is easy, but I doubled up on the course load, thinking two miscellaneous classes might be as manageable as one math.  Even if I bit off more than I can chew, the Lord will provide a way to manage it, even if only through dropping one.

 

From today’s entry in Voices of Recovery:

“In OA we share a belief that we can each recover through a spiritual relationship with a power which is greater than ourselves alone.” — The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous, p. 91

Michelangelos Touch of GodI am excited about what my Higher Power, Who chose to call Himself God (Exodus 6:7), has done to put walking tread on my faith.  He is making my separated, conflicted self into one integral unit, body, soul and spirit, unified for one purpose: His will.  I think that’s what recovery is: recovering the unity of self and relationship with God for which we were created but had lost under the influence of our substances and behaviors.  I remember what it was like to know of God and about God without knowing God through a real relationship.  That relationship was blocked by my devotion to food and getting my own way!  Looking back, I now understand what Jesus meant when, speaking of the Day of Judgment, He said many will claim Him, and even boast of great deeds done in His name, but He will tell them, “I never knew you. Away from me!” (Matthew 7:23, emphasis mine)

We were made for relationship.  I choose to abide in that relationship today.  Come, Lord Jesus!  Fill me with Your Spirit and renew me for Your purpose.  Grant me a knowledge of Your will for me and the power to carry it out.

 

From Proverbs 26, NIV:

A whip for the horse, a bridle for the donkey,
and a rod for the backs of fools!

The Heavenly Father knows what corrective tools to use on His creation.  He blessed me with an eating disorder until I disgusted myself into paying attention.  In the end, it took the excruciating pain of a severed knee ligament, which tore under my immense body weight, and the humiliation of being nursed to health by my precious bride, the one to whom I have done the most harm.  The willingness to accept that my life had become unmanageable was right around the corner from the whip, bridle and rod.

Thank You, Papa, for loving me enough to orchestrate a Way back to You, and for never giving up on me, even during the many times when I turned my back on You.

 

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

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.

If there was ever any doubt that the Spirit presides over the Word spoken to my soul, it would have to be wiped away in the beautiful way these devotional thoughts run through one message!  Knowing God comes through sacrificial love and is marked by sacrificial love.  This love expressed itself to us so that we would have life.  If we do not accept that love and let it pour through us then we are still dead.  The spiritual truth is not that we will die, but that we are already dead.

This is the curse of Adam and the lie of Satan!  In Genesis 3, God said on the day he rebels man will die, but Satan deceived man into believing the physical matters more than the spiritual when he argued that man would not physically die, and man has been biting into that lie ever since.  We are spirit!  The body is merely a vehicle we use to endure the testing grounds of Earth.  Will we live by the Holy Spirit and so love, or will we serve ourselves, preserve what’s ours, and reserve our wills condemning ourselves to death and decay to which all things in the material realm go?  I choose life!  So let me love!

 

 

From “the Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous, “Another Prodigal Story”:

I have always, it seems, had a keen sense of the fact and presence of God.

That, too, like loving my wife and at the same time hurting her so dreadfully, is paradoxical, but it’s a fact. I knew that God, was there with infinite love and yet, somehow, I kept on drifting further and further away. But now I do feel that my heart an d mind are “tuned in” and by His grace there will be no more alcoholic “static.”

After making this final agreement (not just another resolution) to let God to be first in my life, the whole outlook and horizon brightened up in a manner which I am unable to describe except to say that it was “glorious.”

 

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.

‡ From “Our Invitation to You” out of Overeater’s Anonymous:  “The OA recovery program is patterned after that of Alcoholics Anonymous. We use AA’s Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, changing only the words ‘alcohol’ and ‘alcoholic’ to ‘food’ and ‘compulsive overeater.’

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:

“…a loving witness, someone who will keep our confidences and will listen without judging us or seeking to fix us.” — The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous, p. 49

Just moments ago I got off the phone with my precious bride.  I was sharing with her that God is dealing with my judgmental nature.  I was in a seminar this evening where that was a topic of discussion, and as I listened I kept getting disturbed by people around me.  Even while I was praying, “Yes, Lord, take away my judgmental attitudes,” I heard myself say, “Why can’t people mute their cellphones in a meeting like this?” “Why can’t that guy stay awake instead of snoring through such an important talk?” “Oh, no! Not that speaker again!  He irks me.”  It was after that third cock crowed that I realized I had betrayed my own prayer, and the One to whom I had prayed it.

Listening and loving without judging is not natural, and does not come automatically merely by sitting in a recovery meeting once a week.  It comes as a result of practicing the principles of love and acceptance in all our affairs, turning our points of resistance over to God, and seeking out those defective parts of us that remain with a willingness to repeat the cleaning cycle and grow.  I am a new creation, but a baby one.  I have a lot of growing to do.  So far, I have only demonstrated my ability to cry and pitch fits to get attention, milk or whatever of my way I find lacking.  Now I am realizing that maturity requires something more: less of me and more of God’s loving will and way in me.  And that means turning off judgment and turning on the loving heart and ears.

 

 

From Proverbs 30, NIV:

(There are)… 12 those who are pure in their own eyes
and yet are not cleansed of their filth;

13 those whose eyes are ever so haughty,
whose glances are so disdainful

Reading this after making the statement I did above was painfully convicting.  I recognize that I am being peeled, and that, like an onion, what is tender and flavorful is underneath all the dry, brittle crust, but I am still humbled by the measure of what remains of hate and unforgiveness in my life.  I was sure I had turned such evil over to God.  I am reminded of two Scriptures to which I often refer during my morning and evening meditations: Psalm 51, and Psalm 139:23-24.  The latter reads as follows:

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in my and lead me in the way everlasting.”  Another of my favorites reads, “Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

I have asked that God reveal to me any outstanding weaknesses so that I can surrender them to His cleaning process.  Now that He has, I will not wallow in my shame, but will use that energy that convicts me to motivate me willingly to submit these newly found soiled and worn pieces of me, so that they can be properly disposed and God can grow in their place something new.

Lord, where my glance was disdainful, shine through with Your grace.  Where my attitude was condescending, I humbly submit to You and Your children around me.  Give me opportunity to meet needs and resource to follow through, so that Jesus may be seen through me, and that You may be glorified.

 

 

 

 

From my reading through the Bible, currently in Hebrews 7, NIV:

24 but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood.

26 Such a high priest truly meets our need – one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens.

27b He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself.

This is the truth that allows me to forgive myself and others, and allows me to keep from having to judge others. When I was concerned about being perfect enough or about maintaining some unattainable image, I criticized and condemned others in a warped attempt to elevate myself.  Now that I daily sacrifice self and submit to the lordship of God through Jesus Christ’s forgiveness, I have all the power and purpose I need to let go of trivial concerns and set about the Master’s business.  Willingly prioritizing God’s will and opportunities represented by the concerns of others relieves me of the need to hoard attention, resources, affection, and oh yes – food.

 

From the “Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous, page 85:

If we have carefully followed directions, we have begun to sense the flow of His Spirit into us. To some extent we have become God-conscious. We have begun to develop this vital sixth sense. But we must go further and that means more action.

 

 

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.