Tag Archive: selfishness


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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Ground Zero

  
The connection between me and addiction was reaffirmed yesterday when a class assignment brought me into the rooms of an AA meeting. Though I already attend OA meetings regularly, attending this meeting as a clinical assignment, forced me to look at things from a different perspective. By listening to unfamiliar people, with a different addiction, struggling with the exact same manifestations of self will run riot, I was reminded, again, that I have a cunning and baffling disease, and that no matter how much progress I make, I will always need a Savior. I’m watching a stupid television show, and one of the characters who is addressing a woman in rehab, said the following:

“Your kid… She’s your ground zero.”

I thought of my daughter and the rest of my Step 8 list, and was overwhelmed with grief and remorse. I have lived the best amends I know how, and I still do not think I will ever make up for the damage I have done. The uncontrollable nature of the way I have lived my life has been as destructive as a terrorist’s bomb, and my children are my ground zero.

The harm I have done is reason enough to step outside my pursuit of self satisfaction. How can I seek to please myself, when I, myself, have done so much damage?
God, every broken, incomplete, inadequate thing I am is yours. Please put me back together and make me useful to You!

Not of This World!

second coming Jesus“So fear the Lord and serve him wholeheartedly. Put away forever the idols your ancestors worshiped when they lived beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord alone. (Joshua 24:14, NLT)

Most of us were raised by worshipers of the idol of Self – selfish fear, insecurity, or anxiety; selfish ambition, pride, condescension; selfish indulgence, greed, compulsive hoarding, eating, or addiction. We need to destroy these idols with no less determined zeal than Israel destroyed all their statues, taboos, and Ashera poles so we can live according to a singular purpose. It is our duplicity that so vexes us that we seek medication in the satisfaction of Self.

“And there will be strange signs in the sun, moon, and stars. And here on earth the nations will be in turmoil, perplexed by the roaring seas and strange tides. 26 People will be terrified at what they see coming upon the earth, for the powers in the heavens will be shaken. 27 Then everyone will see the Son of Man[e] coming on a cloud with power and great glory.[f] 28 So when all these things begin to happen, stand and look up, for your salvation is near!” (Luke 21:25-28, NLT)

In order to see without fear the things coming in the sky that will terrify all the friends of Earth, we have to be so opined to a preference for deliverance that we hesitate not one moment. Rather than looking back as Lot’s wife did (Genesis 19, Luke 17:32), we must seek Heaven so fervently that we are not even momentarily afraid, but stand and look up, for our salvation is near!

Self SatisfactionHoly Father, today, I look to You rather than cast my eyes on the habitat You have provided me. I turn my motives to Your Kingdom and will, and cast off the sin that so easily entangles me. Graduate me from the mire to which I have become so accustomed that I scarcely find it objectionable. Grant me an awareness of my sin and wash it off me. Let me not be so bound to the ways and whims of Earth’s people that I join them in their disobedience, but never let me forget to love them with the self-sacrificing passion You did and do. In Christ’s name, amen!

I write three blogs, two anonymously. In them I journal some of my deepest thoughts, and most stirring insights, as well as some ramblings that probably help no one but me as I sort through the emotional soup that stirs in my head. Most of the time, I am content to know that I have poured myself onto a page and released it with the Enter key. Other times, I wonder if my close friends or family members will see what I wrote, understand it, relate to it, or see any evidence that God was in it. On earlier occasions when I experienced the real sensation of God speaking through my keyboard, I often rushed to share the experience with my wife, and I would beg to know, “Did you read what I wrote today?” I am ashamed to admit that it took me a lot longer than it should have for me to learn this was unhealthy for me, and came across as critical of her. To me, it was a sharing of an intimacy, but it threatened to inflate my ego. To her, it was an obligation, one which she could never fulfill fast enough or with enough enthusiasm to suit me. My queries were a lose-lose proposal every time, so I stopped asking. Sooner or later I stopped caring whether anyone else read what I wrote or not. It took a lot of work and energy to transcribe my spiritual struggles onto a page, and even more to muster up the willingness to broadcast it publicly, but I was content knowing two things: I was strengthened by the exercise, and God will do what He wants with the seeds I sow.

Bible IlluminedThis week my Bible study small group was encouraged to candidly expose their devotional habits, and I had to confess I had fallen behind on my Scripture readings even so as to be unprepared for our weekly study. As I mulled over the significance of my confession, I was stirred to recall that God has painstakingly transcribed His very heart onto the pages of the Bible. He has inspired men over centuries to pen His Word, and rallied all manner of spiritual forces and political circumstances to preserve, translate and duplicate it at the cost of many lives. He has orchestrated history to ensure that the Bible is the number one best-seller in all-time and is readily available to most cultures today. Yet He asks, with perhaps a broken heart, “Did you read what I wrote today?”

Holy Father, I thank You for loving me enough to write to me about it. I celebrate the ease with which I may read Your Word and get a glimpse of Your heart. Make mine more like Yours, and keep it from pride. Deliver me from self-seeking, self-pity, and selfish fear. You gave me my life and patiently bought it back when I took it up; now I offer it back to You to do with it as You wish. You are a good and holy Father, and Your love for me is complete. I am content to love You and be loved by You. Your will be done, in Christ’s name I pray. Amen!

16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God[Or that you, a man of God,] may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17, NIV)

Despised? Dance!

22 “Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you* on account of the Son of Man. 23 Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.
Footnotes: *Luke 6:22 Gk cast out your name as evil
(Luke 6:22-23, NRSV)

20140331-094429.jpgSunday, I got a little riled because I felt my name had been cast out as evil when I was identified by one of my character defects during a Bible study. I felt as though I had been singled out as “argumentative” when what was actually happening was that my Bible study facilitator, who was insecure about a writing he brought to share, was soliciting my input as a way to balance it out and to respond to the questions it raised in his own mind. What he actually said was I was “good at arguing” and implied that he meant in defense of Scripture. The beatitudes were even a part of the discussion, though this one was clearly not in my selfish, fearful mind at the time. Had it been, my face should have shown with the radiance of Stephen, but instead I just burned up with hurt.

This reminds me that when fear is near, Self is at the helm of my ship. As soon as I got disturbed I should have recognized that, rather than stewing about it and making matters worse.

When fear comes, and I am conscious of it, I like to play it out to the worst case scenario, and then admit that, even then, God would still be in charge and could use it for His glory. Even in this, the worst case scenario would be that my friend actually did despise me as an argumentative ass and everyone in the room decided to believe him and despise me too. That is highly unlikely, as this roomful of people constitutes the greatest group of loving souls with which I have ever had the pleasure to surround myself. But even so, the Bible says when I am cast out as evil on account of the Son of Man it’s time for a happy dance, not a pity party.

Since I stepped out of the muck of selfish fear regarding that moment, I have received affirmation that my contributions to the class are valued and not despised. The thief was merely trying to steal my joy, testimony, and prayer power that day. I will not surrender them again so easily.

Dear Father, today, help me to remember that it is better to be wronged than to defend my selfishness; better to be unloved than to withhold love; better to be despised for Your Name than to be esteemed by the world for being like it. Help me to lovingly serve all I can today and harm none. Help me to extinguish the insecurities of self that I may be free to selflessly serve You and Yours.