Tag Archive: Tenth Step


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)

Pray, by Sanctus Real

This song captures exactly what is on my heart the last few days.

Pray, by Sanctus Real

Lyrics (courtesy of K-LOVE)

I bow my head to pray, I don’t know what to say
I’m not sure how to fix the things I’m dealing with
I’m in a desperate place, I need to share the weight
But I just don’t know how, to let it all pour out

Though I’m silent, my heart is crying
‘Cause I was made to come to You

So I pray
God I need You more than words can say
Right here in this moment
You know my heart, You know my need
You know every part of me
So even if it’s just to speak Your name
I’m gonna pray

I failed to find the time, but You’ve been calling out
I let the days go by as if I could live without
But it’s gotta be here now, I won’t be pulled away
Cause it’s just You and I, so let the world around us fade

As I pray
God I need You more than words can say
Right here in this moment
You know my heart, You know my need
You know every part of me
So even if it’s just to speak Your name
I’m gonna pray
I’m gonna pray

Father, I’m in a desperate place
Father, I know You can bear the weight
Father, Take me in Your arms as I speak Your name
I lift my hands and pray
I lift my hands and pray

You know my heart, You know my need
And every single part of me
So even if it’s just to speak Your name
I’m gonna pray
I’m gonna pray

You know my heart, You know my need
You know every part of me
More than words, You want my life
Take it as an offering

20140726-083952-31192187.jpgLast night while I was trying to sleep after a day filled with failures and character defects in full bloom, it occurred to me that maybe my Tenth Step work needs some help. I opened Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, the original AA one.

Before I turned to Step Ten, I finished reading the rest of Step Seven, the chapter my home meeting group didn’t quite get through last week.There I found the one statement in the book to which I was introduced years before my coming to program, and which I still see as the book’s primary highlight (although I am infinitely grateful for the rest of it too):

The chief activator of our defects has been self-centered fear – primarily fear that we would lose something we already possessed or would fail to get something we demanded. Living upon a basis of unsatisfied demands, we were in a state of continual disturbance and frustration. Therefore, no peace was to be had unless we could find a means of reducing those demands. (Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, “Step Seven”)

That passage was originally introduced to me by a marriage counselor in session. Maybe he sensed I was an addicted person and maybe this trouble is just common to all humans, but my unsatisfied demands were a chain around my neck then and perhaps they still are. My closest relationships are where they most readily reveal that they remain cinched around my throat. The links of anger, hurt feelings, disappointment, and inadequacy pinch and tear away flesh under the weight of fear, and I am powerless, by myself, to cast them off.

Step Ten told me, however, that

…no one can make much of his life until self-searching becomes a regular habit, until he is able to admit and accept what he finds, and until he patiently and persistently tries to correct what is wrong.” (Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, “Step Ten”

The Our Daily Bread devotional today, written by Julie Ackerman Link, was based on a reference to Isaiah 17:1 and 11, and said in part:

Apart from God, the work of our hands will become a pile of ruins. But when we join with God in the work of His hands, God multiplies our effort and provides spiritual nourishment for many.

The devotion closed with a quote from Jesus Christ:

“Without Me you can do nothing.” —Jesus (John 15:5)

Dear Father, today, I confess that I have been running along on my own way without enjoying my fulfilling relationship with You. As I wandered, I began to feel the grip of Self and it’s defective character choking me and my other relationships. Thank You for the reminder. Forgive my selfish ways, Lord, and deliver me from them. I am so helpless without You. Please lead me in Your Way, so I don’t run ahead of myself again. I willingly submit to Your guidance.

Dear God,

man bowed in prayerMy relationships with other people are not going according to the grace with which you bought me and established relationship with me. I want what I do and say to be an overflow of the joy I have in You, and yet bitterness keeps coming out. My feelings still get hurt though I recognize that those around me are spiritually sick. I have a tendency to forget that I am still sick too, recovering from the spiritual disease of Self, and that others need my patience rather than my dictates about how to get well.

Help me to remember there is nothing I can do to right anyone’s wrongs, neither those of my own nor those of others. Keep me humble and mold me into a representation of the grace You offer to all mankind. Instead of making me attractive, let the way I live be an attractant to You. I confess I am still dragging around old defective character traits, which I offer again to You to remove in Your timing. Help me loosen my hold on them so they are at Your disposal. Self still swims about in the soup of my emotions. Please filter it out and keep it from factoring in my decisions. Help me treat people the way You would have me rather than the way that best serves me.

I am grateful for the restoration You have accomplished, but I know that my sanity still bears the cracks and holes of its once shattered condition. I know its leaks are manifestations of my own reluctance to surrender all to You. Please remedy my leakiness. I want to be a trustworthy vessel for You. Please take all the broken pieces and mend me the way that only You can. I am unable to repair myself on my own. Just to think I might is another defect of prideful selfishness.

Give me an undivided heart, that I may honor Your name. I long for the integrity that can only come from working with and in You. Make Your purposes my only motive, Your call my only mission, Your love my only resource. Make me more like You.

In the name of Christ Jesus who was broken for my wholeness, Amen!

 

Psalm 86:11 (NIV)

Teach me your way, Lord,

   that I may rely on your faithfulness;

give me an undivided heart,

   that I may fear your name.

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:

boulder blocked path“The purpose of Step Ten is to identify and remove from our path today’s stumbling blocks…” — The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous, p. 84

The first word I recognized from this step is the word “continued.” It means that we are supposed to be introspectively evaluating ourselves all the time.  I suppose it should start while the pain of the first Fifth Step is still fresh.  I remember after mine, I felt like I had just undergone surgery with no anesthesia and was walking with the open wounds.  I swore I would never want to go through that again, and I felt the same way after Step Eight, the inventory of harms done to others.  The only way to keep from having long lists of horrible news is to keep horrible news from piling up, so “continued to take personal inventory” is what I did, starting the day of Step Five.  Still, no matter how diligently I work to make sure defective behaviors don’t crop up, some still do.  These “stumbling blocks” are the terrain of this Earth, and remind me that things are not perfect, because I am not home yet.  The Bible prayer that helps me to accomplish my Step Ten is from Psalm 139:23-24 (NIV):

23 Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

From my reading through the Bible, currently in Revelation 16, NIV:

13 Then I saw three impure spirits that looked like frogs; they came out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet. 14 They are demonic spirits that perform signs, and they go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them for the battle on the great day of God Almighty.

15 “Look, I come like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake and remains clothed, so as not to go naked and be shamefully exposed.”

16 Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon.

Here is another instance of John telling us what his vision means.  The frogs that come from the mouths of Satan (Rev. 12:9, 20:2), the beast and the false prophet, are demonic spirits sent to deceive the nations and rally the kings to battle at Armageddon.  The setting for this is an earth scorched by sun (v. 8), where the waters have all been turned to blood (vs. 3, 4).  As the deceiving spirits go forth, the globe will be split by earthquake (v. 18) and pelted with hundred-pound hailstones (v. 21).  Right in the middle of all this chaos we have an indication that the One who comes like a thief, Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:2, 2 Peter 3:10, Revelation 3:3), comes then.

This is important for me because I do not claim to know when Christ will come, how long He will stay, and how much His church will have to endure before being raptured, but there will be some of it that we experience.  As Jesus plainly told us in Matthew 24, the elect will be among those in the trials of the end-times, “but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” (Matthew 24:13)

Deceiving spirits, like the frogs of John’s vision, have been hopping around since the serpent crawled up to whisper in Eve’s ear.  I have to be on guard against true-sounding falsehoods that would rob me of the faith that will help me endure.  Scripture says that many will be deceived.  Will you be among them?  Will I?

God, preserve me from deception.  Help me to know Your voice and recognize counterfeit when I hear it.  Make Your Spirit so at home in me that I am repelled by anything else.  Thank You for delivering me from disease, from suffering without cause, and from the eternal penalties of sin.

From the “Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous, page 164:

Abandon yourself to God as you understand God. Admit your faults to Him and to your fellows. Clear away the wreckage of your past. Give freely of what you find and join us. We shall be with you in the Fellowship of the Spirit, and you will surely meet some of us as you trudge the Road of Happy Destiny.

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.