Tag Archive: self-delusion


Broken but not severed

tree-callingWhat an evolution of thought plagued me while en route to my recovery meeting this morning! I didn’t want to go, but I knew I need to be involved. I almost gave into the impulse to do what I wanted rather than what I knew. Then it hit me like a big bang: I have to go to a recovery meeting, because when I begin to think I don’t need a meeting or the program, my thoughts betray that I am the sickest one in my head, and maybe even the sickest one in the meeting room I’m trying to avoid.

“Abstinence” in Overeaters Anonymous (or anywhere else, including the dictionary) is the action of refraining. (Technically, OA’s official definition of abstinence elaborates, but I shortened it for emphasis.) My personal declaration of abstinence has several food types and behaviors, but the primary point of my abstinence is that I will refrain from the “F- it, I’m eating!” response. (“F- it” is shorthand for “Forget it!” If you thought otherwise, get your mind out of the gutter. If you didn’t think otherwise, get real!) That’s the nature of my disorder – to know what I should do but do what I want in a given circumstance. If I am not careful, I can live in any number of “F- it”s that have nothing to do with my primary addiction of food.

“That’s the nature of my disorder – to know what I should do but do what I want”

I’m in good company according to reliable historical documents. My great-to-the-Nth-power grandparents, Adam and Eve, had one ordinance to follow in Eden. Wouldn’t you know it was a food-related abstinence rule! (Who says God doesn’t care about what we eat?) The sticky part of this bun is that when what they wanted conflicted with what they knew, they chose to block God out and indulge in the ripe, juicy succulence of the tree of “thou shalt not.”

I don’t know if it’s every human’s experience, because the only human I’ve ever been is me. I know, though, that the dysfunction caused by this tug of war between what the higher self knows and the lower self feels like is so powerful that it took the Creator of Earth coming down from Heaven to pay for the discrepancy and remind humans of the priority. So it must be more common than rare.

“…tug of war between what the higher self knows and the lower self feels like…”

The epiphany dawning on my cranial committee today is that if I am living in half of my “thou shalt not” statement then I’m 50% across the line already, whether I’m stuffing my face or not. When I permit myself to say, “F- it, I’m watching TV instead of studying,” or, “F- it, I’m buying that expensive item even though I’m out of money,” or, “F- it, I’m sick of caging my rage, I’ll let the fur fly this once,” I’m doing just as much spiritual damage to myself (and those around me) as if I had stopped by the bakery for a dozen doughnuts and destroyed the evidence down my gullet before arriving home. In fact maybe even more since, in the process, I’m lying to myself about how “recovered” I am and how little I need a recovery program in my life  just because my bathroom scales don’t groan when I get on them anymore.

“…if I am living in half of my “thou shalt not” statement then I’m 50% across the line already…”

The pretentious me (okay, more pretentious me) used to look at addicts of other substances or behaviors and say, “At least I don’t have it that bad.” The truth is, I have it worse than anyone when I’m thinking that way. Jesus observed two similar people in Luke 18:11, when he condemned the Pharisee who thought he was shiny stuff compared to the “sinners” around him. Frankly, the comparison is lopsided in my direction anyway, since the alcoholic or drug addict have to go to special lengths and pay tariffs or drug dealers to get their teeter to totter and it only takes a sandwich to make me crazy. Clearly, I’m still in need of a Savior. Daily. Hourly. Ok, each breath is a do-over. I’ll get the next one right.

 

“I’m a very important passenger car following at exactly the right distance from my Higher Power, the only Engine that can…”

Truth is I’m not The Little Engine that Could, but I’m not the caboose either. (Don’t you dare call me a “Bozo on the bus!” I have a problem with clowns.) Instead I’m a very important passenger car following at exactly the right distance from my Higher Power, the only Engine that can, and He is faithful to provide exactly what I need to follow in line as long as I stay connected to Him. Want on this train? Hitching in is optional, progress is our destination, and anytime you want off your first dozen doughnuts is on me. Okay, not really. Considering the train wreck I have been, I’m just happy to be on a track at all and linked with such fine people as those in recovery from various addictions. Thanks for sharing the journey, for going ahead or falling in behind. We make this thing go when we link together and drag each other along.

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Abstinent Today:

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

The word “deserve” has been at the core of my disease.  I have vacillated between believing that I deserve all or whatever I cared to eat and believing that I did not deserve to live a long or healthy life.  Each of those beliefs opened the door to negative behavior.  In the first case I would reward myself with a string of unhealthy binges, and in the second I would sentence myself to a long tirade of unhealthy binges.  The outcome was the same either way: I overate, isolated, and spiraled into despair.  Outside the tiny circle of Me, I applied deserve to others as well, as I judged and sentenced every other person, place, and institution according to my warped sense of deserve.  As odd as it may sound, given the low esteem in which I held myself, part of me believed that every other human should aspire to be like me (or, rather, do things my way), and that I was somehow God’s favored choice for ruler of the known world, though the world did not seem to recognize it.  Very disappointing!

When I was at the gym this morning worshipping God in movement and praise, it occurred to me that the word “deserve” stands is stark contradiction to the word “grace” on which the Gospel is built.  In the times when I recognize my sin and feel ashamed, that is a good shame.  When I feel as though I deserve punishment or death, there is actually a spiritual truth there.  It is called conviction.  That cognition, however, is not there to drive me to suicide or harmful addictions, it is to bring me back under grace where God has wanted me all along.  As I stand in the cleansing flow of God’s undeserved forgiveness, I am washed of the hate that judges, the fear that despises, the material desire that covets, and the shame that seeks to overwhelm me in despair.  So that grace would cost us nothing, it had to cost someone everything.  Only one payee could satisfy the debt of the world by one death, the Creator Himself, who planted Himself in the human, Jesus Christ, just so He could demonstrate light and life to those of us overcome by the darkness of death, and then to die to buy that life for everyone who would accept it.  How exciting!

Deserve lets us know we are faulty; Grace lets us know we are worthy!  Today I choose to respond to grace.

Lift My Life Up, by Unspoken

From today’s entry in Voices of Recovery:

“The basic concept of Overeaters Anonymous is that compulsive overeating is a disease that affects the person on three levels— physical, spiritual, and emotional.” — Overeaters Anonymous, Second Edition, p. 234

I’ve been listening to a lot of recordings of medical missionaries lately, and it is amazing to hear so many saying what it took recovery for me to discover myself: that the physical, spiritual and emotional attributes of a person are all connected, and that one cannot be treated without addressing all three, or the problem has not been resolved.  I thank God for giving me the disease of compulsive overeating (or, if you prefer, food addiction).  If I had no malfunction of the physical body, I am not sure I ever would have believed I had a spiritual illness.  At 320 pounds (145.15kg, 22.9 stone), with acid reflux disease, chronic severe hypertension, chronic fatigue, severely diminished agility, unpredictable mood swings, explosive fits of rage, and finally a severed knee ligament that snapped under my weight, there was little denying that my life was in a state of dis-order.  I remember objecting to the word “disease” at first, until my sponsor asked me if I was at ease.  “Certainly not!” was the obvious answer.  “Then you are at dis-ease.  Wouldn’t you say?”  Suddenly the word “disease” fit perfectly.

Fortunately, the diseases of addiction have a treatment: a remediation of the Gospel of grace in the adaptation of the Twelve Steps.  From the recognition that I need help (Step One) all the way through to sharing that help with someone else (Step Twelve), these steps are, to me, what discipleship should have always been in the first place.

Thank You, God, for the disease of and deliverance from compulsive overeating!

From Proverbs 21, NIV:

A person may think their own ways are right,
but the Lord weighs the heart.

Self-delusion is the precursor to self-gratification.  This demonstrates the need for a constant Step Ten: “We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.”  I need to ask God to identify and point out shortcomings, not so I can rid myself of them, but so I can surrender them to His loving care and redemptive grace.  He cleanses those who will be clean.

From my reading through the Bible, currently in 2 Peter 3, NIV:

17 Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.

Peter warns of the coming destruction of earth and the promise of salvation for those who hope in Jesus.  I think it is fitting that he tells us to be careful not to be deceived and fall from our secure position.  Peter, in his simple outspoken way hushes all the theological arguers who dispute the security of salvation, by calling it secure and yet warning us not to fall from it.  Priceless!  When we put our focus on growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus, we will find less time to argue about such matters, because our hands will be full of the hungry, the sick, the hurting, and the imprisoned.

God, You know that I am a faulty human being, but one for whom You died, so I am valued beyond my understanding.  Please grow me in grace and relationship with You, so that my knowledge of You may be real, tangible, and useful and not merely scholastic.  Help me look forward to Your coming, but not idly.  Keep me busily pursuing Your righteousness by selflessly serving those around me like You did and do.

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

This thought brings us to Step Ten, which suggests we continue to take personal inventory and continue to set right any new mistakes as we go along. We vigorously commenced this way of living as we cleaned up the past. We have entered the world of the Spirit. Our next function is to grow in understanding and effectiveness. This is not an overnight matter. It should continue for our lifetime. Continue to watch for selfishness, dishonesty, resentment, and fear. When these crop up, we ask God at once to remove 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.

Stirred, not Shaken!

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:

“I was told to ‘act as if’ I did believe whatever I was having trouble accepting. There were times I couldn’t even do that, and I would pray for the willingness to be able to ‘act as if.’ By learning this, I was able to open my mind to new ideas.”

For me, “act as if” took a different meaning.  I actually resented the “fake it till you make it” application, as I would not admit that faking was such a big part of my character until I applied this phrase in the context of aligning my behavior with my beliefs.  I already had a knowledge of and relationship with the Creator, but it was one plagued by my own self-loathing judgment.  I had accepted grace on an eternal scope, but shelved it in the here and now in preference for my own opinions and feelings, marked by fear and failure, which I allowed to rule my soul, pollute my body, and darken my spirit.  I would discover that, even while my soul was sealed for Heaven, I was living a life of “agnostic temperament,” believing in God, but not trusting on Him.  I was in the habit of acting as if there was no God, but that I was in charge of the universe instead.  That is a warped and selfish way of thinking that is the human delusion.   “Act as if” meant that I would learn to behave according to my belief and not my feelings, trusting God rather than my fears, living abundantly by the Spirit rather than desperately by my limited perceptions.

Now I find myself, not only sealed for salvation, as if it was a reservation for an eternal appointment, but reborn by it, freed from the self-centered tomb of frustrated despair in which I had encased myself.  My body has followed my spirit, shedding its sarcophagus too, the fat that had encased me from living the abundant life the Creator intended when He called Mankind “good.”

“Act as if” calls to my mind the old toothpaste commercial that said, “Put your money where your mouth is!”  It is not as much about pretending I believed, but extending the belief I had into action, making faith come alive.  As it has been said, “Faith without works is dead.”

From Proverbs 26:

24 A malicious man disguises himself with his lips,
but in his heart he harbors deceit.”

Nobody respects a hypocrite, especially not God who is usually defamed by the one misrepresenting His Name.  Malice does not represent men well, so most of us whose lives have been marked by hate of self and others have disguised it, often well, but never completely, and never without causing inner conflict.  The inner contradiction of a man so conflicted leaves him worse off than he was before.  No doubt this is why the Spirit begged, through John’s Revelation, that men would be either cold or hot and not lukewarm, neither one nor the other.  (Reference Revelation 3:15-16)

From my reading through the Bible, currently in Isaiah 22 through 24:

Speaking of hypocrisy, Isaiah prophesied against Israel before it was sacked by Babylon.

“22:22 Who is it you have insulted and blasphemed?
Against whom have you raised your voice
and lifted your eyes in pride?
Against the Holy One of Israel!”

The mystery of Isaiah’s prophecy is that the woes of all the cities and powers seem to have come true except for the one in Chapter 24, which predicts the devastation of the entire earth.  Even so, the promise that the Lord will reign in Jerusalem, though it and its earth would be destroyed, gives credit to the coming of a New Jerusalem, promised in Revelation 21.

“24:The earth will be completely laid waste
and totally plundered.
The Lord has spoken this word.”

“24:23 The moon will be abashed, the sun ashamed;
for the Lord Almighty will reign
on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem,
and before its elders, gloriously.”

God, thank You for the grace that covers me and keeps me from my wrath and Yours.  In You, Who have called me “son” I put my trust.  I will no longer hold my opinion of myself over that which You have declared by Your Word, The Light of Life.  I will honor You with the tabernacle of my body, care for my soul, and connect to You in Your Spirit, that whatever comes of these few rocks on which we whirl for a time would not be of consequence when Your Day comes.

From the “Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous, “We Agnostics” page 46:

“Yes, we of agnostic temperament have had these thoughts and experiences. Let us make haste to reassure you. We found that as soon as we were able to lay aside prejudice and express even a willingness to believe in a Power greater than ourselves, we commenced to get results, even though it was impossible for any of us to fully define or comprehend that Power, which is God.”

From Overeaters Anonymous, “Our Invitation To You”:

“We then find that, to deal with our inner turmoil, we have to have a new way of thinking, of acting on life rather than reacting to it—in essence, a new way of living.”

Today:

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

 

 

From today’s entry in Voices of Recovery:

“When we focus our discussions on the principles embodied in the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, when we share how we’ve found the solution to our eating problems through practicing these principles, we discover that  we carry the message to those who still suffer, and to ourselves as well. No matter how much recovery we have, we still need to hear the OA message.” — The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous, pp. 145-146

It seems strange that we might carry the message to ourselves, but I have often proved that mine are the ears best positioned to hear the words of my mouth.  When I have been so self-absorbed that I could not hear the truth in anyone else, God has made sure that I heard it from my own lips, often even taking me by surprise!  Reprogramming compulsive behavior into self-sacrificing service takes repeated exposure to hope, constructive experience, and a message of strength.  This repetition of truth is carving new paths in our pain-scarred brain tissues, making a new way through the jungle of confusion that once eclipsed any thoughts but the most primal urges of self-indulgence, book-ended by fear and shame.

 

 

From Proverbs 18:

It is odd that the Voices of Recovery entry today revolved around messages of word, especially from one’s own mouth, given that most of Proverbs 18 concerns just that.  Right in the middle of several verses that warn about speaking rashly or from a self-centered vane is this lustrous gem:

4 The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters,
but the fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook.”

I have often reflected on this verse, because the metaphors are not as obvious as some.  At first one might think as I did, what is so bad about deep waters?  Deep waters and the words of men, can be smooth on the surface and deadly in their depth.  They appear vast reservoirs of healing sustenance, but can conceal in their darkness monstrous evil that tear men’s flesh.  They invite one to refresh themselves in their coolness, and can take them under without warning or remedy.  The bubbling brook, in contrast, is a constant supply of refreshment, proving itself, moving among the rocky places of earth until even the hardest of surfaces are smoothed down.  It is cool, it is clear, it overwhelms no one, but is the universal remedy, rescuing the thirsty and sustaining the content.  Man, beast, bird and fish are all blessed by this continual fountain, wisdom.

 

 

From my reading through the Bible, currently in Psalm 35 and 36:

In most of Psalm 35, David prayed for his enemies to be humbled, but in the closing I found a blessing with an insightful glimpse into the personality of God and a resolution of praise.

27 May those who delight in my vindication
shout for joy and gladness;
may they always say, “The LORD be exalted,
who delights in the well-being of his servant.”
28 My tongue will speak of your righteousness
and of your praises all day long.”

The Lord delights in the well-being of His servant!  This makes me want two things: to ensure that I am in alignment with His will, so I can always be considered His servant and never His opponent; and to follow His delights to ensure my continued well-being.  If His delight is that I am fueled with kale and cranberries, far be it for me to indulge in circus treats and ballpark meats.

In Psalm 36, David pours out a truth within him concerning the sin that proceeds from the wicked.

2 For in his own eyes he flatters himself
too much to detect or hate his sin.
3 The words of his mouth are wicked and deceitful;
he has ceased to be wise and to do good.”

Vanity is the polluter of the wells of men.  Nothing that comes from such is fit for use.  It poisons those who drink it, and stains those who bathe in its water.  It intoxicates the one who carries it so he does not know, until a sampling of the sweet waters of Wisdom compel his taste to recognize, his contents have soured.

 

 

From the “Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous, “How It Works” page 62:

“Many of us had moral and philosophical convictions galore, but we could not live up to them even though we would have liked to. Neither could we reduce our self-centeredness much by wishing or trying on our own power. We had to have God’s help.”

 

 

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