Tag Archive: Third 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)

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Groundhog Again?

groundhogIn the movie Groundhog Day, Bill Murray’s character is cursed, or blessed depending on your perspective, with living the same day over and over again until he gets it “right” (according to Hollywood). When I woke up this morning, I couldn’t help but feel a little like life as I lived it yesterday was starting all over again. I didn’t feel washed by the morning sunrise or baptized by a good night’s sleep. I wasn’t particularly refreshed with pleasant slumber or rekindled in my desire to live life right. It just felt like another raking over the same coals, a rattling of the same cage, one more tally mark scratched on the wall of my existence. Since the previous attempt at a 24-hour period did not prove particularly successful, the prospect of repeating it was distasteful.

As I began to do my devotions, however, I recognized today for the opportunity it represents rather than the obstacle. Instead of one more day to endure, I was given one more chance to get one right. Sure, I was already off to a bad start, and will undoubtedly be dissatisfied when it comes time for my daily review tonight, but I have something like fifteen hours before that time comes. Surely I can do something between now and then to begin to turn this funk around. I may not get it perfect, but there is little doubt I can do better today than I did yesterday, and I will reach for progress wherever I can get it.

Dear Father, today, I thank You for this new day, an example that your mercies are new every morning. Rescue me from the self-centered anxieties that make me fear one of my yesterdays happening again today.

I will sing praise to my lord“O children of God, seek after a vital experience of the Lord’s loving kindness, and when you have it, speak positively of it; sing gratefully; shout triumphantly.”

Charles Spurgeon, from Morning and Evening: November 20.

A recovering addict in Step Eleven seeks to improve conscious contact with God, and celebrates Step Twelve by carrying the message of recovery to others.  We, who are the message, sing gratefully, shout triumphantly, not that we are or deserve any better than our fellows, but that we have been given a gift of renewal from our Higher Power, the One by whom the Earth and all that is in it was created, and from whom all good things come.  We contracted this mission in our Step Three prayer, when we prayed for deliverance, that we would bear witness to others of the power, love, and way of life of God, who is mighty to save.

I will praise you, Lord, among the nations;
I will sing of you among the peoples.
For great is your love, higher than the heavens;
your faithfulness reaches to the skies.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
let your glory be over all the earth.
13 With God we will gain the victory,
and he will trample down our enemies.

From Psalm 108, NIV

They shall be safe in their land; and they shall know that I am the Lord, when I have broken the bands of their yoke and delivered them from the hand of those who enslaved them. 28 And they shall no longer be a prey for the nations, nor shall beasts of the land devour them; but they shall dwell safely, and no one shall make them afraid. 29 I will raise up for them a garden of renown, and they shall no longer be consumed with hunger in the land, nor bear the shame of the Gentiles anymore.  (Ezekiel 34:25-31, NKJV)

 

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about deliverance lately, and this verse brought me near tears as I considered the bands of my yoke from which God has delivered me.  Verse 27 reminded me of the bondage of self, confessed in the Step Three Prayer.  Verse 28 brought back my whole Step Four inventory with its hurts and fears.  The last verse of this excerpt though, was God’s signature on this passage and His address of it to me, as He promised me freedom from shame and from the earthly hunger that consumes me.  The garden of providence He bestows upon me is one of honor, prestige, repute, acclaim – it is one of “renown.”

 

I can’t celebrate my deliverance without remembering the state from which I was delivered.  God told the rescued Hebrews in Exodus 13:3…

Remember this day in which you went out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand the Lord brought you out of this place.

matzahWant to know how that verse ends?  It continues:

No leavened bread shall be eaten.

Sure, this was a seven-day observance, called the Feast of Unleavened Bread, but I find it interesting that God would have them demonstrate their remembrance of deliverance with abstinence from leavened bread (the kind processed with salt or yeast).

 

Dear Father, today, I commemorate my deliverance from the bondage of Self and Food. I accept Your gift of abstinence, and I choose to demonstrate my gratitude for it, by keeping it.   I thank You for being mighty enough to save and loving enough to save me.  Without shame I confess that I am a delivered compulsive overeater, who chooses, this one day at a time, not to return to his bondage.  Halleluiah and hosanna!  You have delivered me, and continue to do so.  Thank You, Bread of Life!

Yesterday was World Food Day.  No, that it not a time to eat all the world’s food!  It is an attention call to the problem of hunger.  I’m not talking about the cravings you feel when you pass a fast food billboard, but the problem of illness and death that comes from undernutrition.  It is estimated that one in eight people in the world suffers from chronic undernourishment.* That’s about 870 million people who are sick or starving because of a lack of food.  Meanwhile I sit in my air-conditioned home with a pantry, refrigerator and freezer full of food that I am praying won’t consume me.  Yesterday was a day that reminded me that making amends for the harm I have done as a compulsive overeater is more than just putting down the fork and getting on a treadmill; it means redistributing some resources.

I had enough to support my eating habits when I was overeating.  Can I really claim I can’t support a local food pantry or a world food charity now that I am free?   As I pray for daily deliverance from my difficulties, I recommit to “those I would help” in the Third Step Prayer.  When so many are sick and dying from lack of something I have abused in abundance, who am I failing to help?

James 1:27 (NIV)

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

*2013 World Hunger and Poverty Facts and Statistics, World Hunger Education Service. http://www.worldhunger.org/articles/Learn/world%20hunger%20facts%202002.htm#Number_of_hungry_people_in_the_world