Tag Archive: Twelve Steps


Amendment to my POE

Weight is not valueDear Sponsor,

I got on the scale yesterday and discovered an undesirable weight change has crept upon me. Since I haven’t weighed in several months, I am not greatly disturbed by this discovery, but I am prompted to make some changes in my daily Plan of Eating (POE). My daily calorie intake goal had been 2150, due to my continued weight loss at the standard 2000. Since that no longer seems to be the case, I am dropping to the standard 2000 until things level off.

In practice, I plan to eliminate:

  • the half serving of raw almonds from my typical lunch (75 Kcal.)
  • one half serving of almond butter from typical dinner (100 Kcal.)
  • though the above represents 175 calories, I am committed to reducing the daily target by 150 calories, whether the “typical” meals are on the menu for any given day or not.

I haven’t written much lately, but great changes are taking place regarding my personal development. I was recently reawakened to the existence of my character defect of wrath as expressed by outbursts of rage, harsh criticism, and verbal condemnation. While addressing this defect in prayer, I was convicted that is is correlated to my habit of judgement, for which I am responsible. When I look at these and the way they correspond to my progress regarding food and weight, I am reminded that I cannot control my weight, but I am responsible for my food choices. When I make healthy food choices according to properly administered limits, there is a corresponding body weight change. I cannot merely pray that God remove my excess weight while eating whatever I want whenever I crave it, and neither can I stew in my hateful judgement and expect God to remove my character defect of wrath. I have some habits to change. So, I am addressing each instance of judgment much like I would a craving for food, cigarettes, booze, or any other toxin. I recognize it as judgement, turn from it, turn to God in prayer, and relinquish the craving to His care and control, offering the outcome to Him. So far, it works when I work it.

Another development in my life is the halfway mark in Nursing School. I would never have imagined it would be this difficult. I don’t know how much of my problem is that I am an adult learner returning to school in middle-age, or just that I have become an unteachable know-it-all who refuses to learn the new language of Nursing Academia. I can’t control the first option, but I have full control over the second, so I repeatedly pray that God will make me teachable, that I will study the right materials with focus, retain what I need, and be able to recall with clarity the answers I am called upon to know. I have been counseled by professors that I “overthink” exam questions, but I don’t really understand how overthinking can be a bad thing. I guess what they mean is I over-create details that aren’t written, or imagine what-if scenarios that aren’t articulated in the perfect vacuum of an exam. In my previous career, second and third guessing was routine, any possible outcome or precipitating cause had to be explored, and life balanced on my ability to anticipate the unimaginable. Now, in the world of the Nursing Student, my hyper-vigilance is considered an attention deficit, one I have to rein in or else. As a matter of fact, this very blog post represents a digression from my studies.

Because of that, I can’t really go into detail about the other personal development, but it’s huge. It involves the recognition of abuse in my life, forgiveness offered, and amends being lived out. I really must tell you about it soon.

 

(prayer) Holy Father, make me teachable. Relieve me from the bondage of self, especially as it relates to wrath, and help me cease this habit of judgment since it only serves to alienate me from Your children You put me on this Earth to serve in love. Thank You for progress. Thank You for grace. Help me live so saturated in it that, when I open my mouth or hands to share, Your grace is all that flows out. May Your will be done in every aspect of my life as it is in Heaven.

“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” (Isaiah 26:3)

“Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

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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!

Emerging from a Deep Darkness

light of the worldSaturday I mentioned my lack of self-esteem, but what I didn’t do was describe how miserably low it was in the first place.  My first sponsor rightly concluded that I was “an ego-maniac with an inferiority complex” which was obviously demonstrated by my constant insistence on having my way and my annoying tendency to squash the way and will of anyone else, all the while insisting that I was too inferior ever to actually have my way.  So dim was my view of myself that I despised anybody who loved me, including friends, wife, parents and even God.   I had convicted as guilty each one of them for the ultimate crime of loving the unlovable, for being so dense as to find worthiness where I had proven, I thought, there was no worth.  When folks parroted the popular adage, “God makes no junk,” I silently protested that I was certainly the exception.  As the songs were sung that spoke of loving oneself, I objected, considering that loving oneself must certainly be overrated as an imperative, since I certainly did not and seemed to be getting along so well.  Like Satan is apt to do, he even used a few well twisted Scriptures, memories of sermons, and verses of hymns to convince me I was in the right for despising “such a worm as I.”  My mental tapes certainly played such a hateful song of self-loathing, that any insinuation that a Savior loved me was scorned as trite blabbings of the senseless over-religious, who, you might imagine, I also secretly despised, even while trying to outdo them.

I admit these thoughts and feelings today, not to berate myself again, but to reach the one(s) who may be feeling this way right now.  As I said Saturday, I have learned, and am learning, to apply God’s esteem where my lack of it had been, just as I seek God’s will rather than my own.  You see, I came to acknowledge that, though my view of myself was dimmed by the lie of Satan that I did not matter, I had placed my own opinion over that of my Creator, which is nothing short of idolatry in itself.  It was as though I tried to trump God’s sovereign decree with the counterfeit one the deceiver and I had concocted in my darkened mind.  Clouded with shame, guilt, and despair the Savior had already died to remove, I was blind to the reality that God’s grace had already met me, I had just failed to truly accept it.  I had limited God’s access to me just as I had limited my willingness to let go of food’s dominion over me.

You have not failed me, my son!”  God said to me through a messenger one day, and confirmed it through the Scriptures repeatedly.  Deception fails to stand up as true.  Substance and misbehavior fails as a higher power.  Addiction fails as a pattern for life.  Food fails as a master, though falling under its lash seems convincing to the enslaved.  The failure was not mine, it was in the things in which I had put my trust.  God did not despise me as I despised myself.  He knew the disease, the sinful nature of the flesh, was inherited from my ancestors, Adam and Eve.  His was but a longing to see the Remedy applied.  He patiently waited for me to recognize I was in need of a Remedy.  He brought me the reality of His Remedy through the Twelve Steps:

  1. (I) admitted (I was) powerless over food; that (my life) had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than (myself) could restore (me) to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to turn (my) will and (my life) over to the power of God as (I) understood Him.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of (myself).
  5. Admitted to God, to (myself) and to another human being the exact nature of (my) wrongs.
  6. Became entirely willing to let God remove all these defects of character.
  7. Humbly asked Him to remove my shortcomings.
  8. Made a list of all persons (I) had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Made direct amends to such people, wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory, and when (I was) wrong, promptly admitted it.
  11. Sought, through prayer and meditation, to improve (my) conscious contact with God, as I understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for (me) and the power to carry that out.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, (I) tried to carry this message to compulsive overeaters, and to practice these principles in all (my) affairs.  (adapted from the Twelve Steps of Overeaters Anonymous)

 

As the principles embodied in these Twelve Steps brought the faith I already knew alive in the darkness my life had been, a light dawned and the darkness began to vanish.  The people around me were no longer obstacles, but fellow-sufferers, many of whom had been glowing for some time with the same light I now had in me, and who, it appeared, were as happy to see me emerge from my darkness as I was to leave it.  I found a fellowship of light that I could not have detected before, and I became aware that many still walk in darkness even among the light, just as I had done.  I began to ache for the darkened about me and saw the urgency of Step Twelve, not only for compulsive overeaters, but for the spiritually sick, injured, or dead whose symptoms take any form.  So I continue to take personal inventory, always keeping aware of the condition of the light within me, vigilantly tending its wick and fuel, and trusting God for its flame.  I posture myself for relationship, seeking God’s will, and His power to do it.  Very often, it is for me to shine on a soul near me, not to draw attention to this fallible candle, but to the One who is the Light, my Higher Power, Jesus Christ.

Dear Father, today, speak life through these words, and make Your light catch fire in a darkened soul who needs You.  Thank You for finding a way to use me in Your plan for those who might need and read this humble collection of words.  Move mightily and draw Yours to You, in Jesus’ name.  Amen!

Not perfect… But trying!

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:

“‘…After all, nobody expects us to be perfect,’ we say. ‘We strive for progress, not perfection.’ Such reasoning only delays our recovery. The Sixth Step calls for us to be entirely ready to have God remove all our defects of character. Those of us who take this Step with the total commitment required to make it work do indeed strive for the ultimate refinement of our character.” — The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous, p. 55

 

Many of us who have been wounded by our own perfectionism and its corresponding disappointment will tend to view perfection as another tool of our torture and, as such, use phrases like “progress, not perfection” with disdain.  But perfection is not our enemy.  On the contrary, it is our heading, the compass point for which we should be aiming once we have taken and learn to continually take Step Six.  Being “entirely ready to have God remove all (our) defects of character” means acceptance of the clean lives it is God’s will for us to live.  Applied with proper humility, perfection leaves no wounds at all.  It is only when we hold ourselves to the standard of perfect achievement that we find our egos battered and our emotions bloodied.  Perfection is a compass heading, not a destination.  I cannot reach it as long as I am human.  Yet I will strive toward it as long as there is breath in me.

 

From Proverbs 3:

Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord and shun evil.
This will bring health to your body
and nourishment to your bones.”

 

As I was reading this chapter I noticed that there are several mandates (suggestions if you prefer) that take up one verse, and the promise is often in the next verse or several verses.  The promises outnumber the directives every time.  This particular combination I found particularly relevant: Health and nutrition through humility and abstinence!  It’s almost as if the founders of Overeaters Anonymous had read this book before!

 

 

From my reading through the Bible, currently in Jeremiah 1:

At Jeremiah’s calling, he was told by God that he was known and specially chosen from before he was even born.  Jeremiah had “but I” disease like many of us – that is, he only saw his limitations and weaknesses.  God instructed him not to even mention his weakness but to trust God to be with him and deliver him.  It was important for Jeremiah to understand that God is enough in every circumstance, because he would be ministering the Word of God to His People even up to the time of Jerusalem’s exile.  Much of what Jeremiah would have to say would be bad news, but God strengthened him and remained faithful to His promise.

 

God was with me and knew me even in my mother’s womb, just as he did David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and many others who wrote of God’s similar address to them, and every other creature on earth, whether they know it or not.  He has always been, and will always remain enough.  He will see me through whatever may come, even trial or exile.  No matter what comes against me, whether political institutions, financial concerns, personal relationships, or my own character defects…

 “19 ‘They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you,’ declares the Lord.”

 

My part is readiness and courageous obedience:

17 Get yourself ready! Stand up and say to them whatever I command you. Do not be terrified by them, or I will terrify you before them.”

 

From the “Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous, pages 14 and 15:

“For if an alcoholic failed to perfect and enlarge his spiritual life through work and self-sacrifice for others, he could not survive the certain trials and low spots ahead.”

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:

“Clearly, if we are to live free of the bondage of compulsive eating, we must abstain from all foods and eating behaviors which cause us problems.” — The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous, pp. 2-3

The contributor summarized the revelation this way:

“Now it begins to make sense: anything that causes problems in my life holds me in bondage. Abstinence opens that prison door and makes all of the miracles of recovery possible.”

The word “clearly” at the beginning of this statement signals a conclusion, but I am certainly glad it was written at the beginning of the book and not the end. I know I am not alone in a group comprised mainly of instant-gratification addicts when I say that if I had to wait until the end of the book to get this, I might never have begun. “Clearly” here could mean “undoubtedly,” “obviously,” or “Oh yea, verily!” My disease would eventually contest this statement, hissing contrary arguments in my ear, “surely not,” “total abstinence is overkill,” “extremism is for zealots.” Because of the mental turbulence this argument causes, I am glad for the “Duh!” anchor on this statement, and for the many other slogans and readings that keep Abstinence at the forefront of OA’s purpose and message of hope. “Clearly” there is no other way to shake off the obsession than to break free and take the Twelve Steps!

From Proverbs 8:

1 Does not wisdom call out?
Does not understanding raise her voice?”

6 Listen, for I have worthy things to say;
I open my lips to speak what is right.”

Here is the “clearly,” of Wisdom’s invitation. She seems to say, “I am giving you gems here! When will you get it?” On freedom’s side of bondage, I can look back and say, for every instance when I questioned God, “How long, oh Lord?” He was undoubtedly wondering the same thing. When will we put an end to our resistance and just do what we know God’s Wisdom calls for us to do? How long will we continue to go our own way, though we have proved it over and over again to be to our harm? Clearly, the Way of Wisdom works out best for those who travel on it.

“Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will!”

From my reading through the Bible, currently in Isaiah 40:

This chapter contains the promise of hope in redemption.

2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and proclaim to her
that her hard service has been completed,
that her sin has been paid for”

All four Gospels mark this chapter as a prophecy of John the Baptist, when Isaiah describes him in verse 2 as a voice of one calling for preparation for the way of the Lord. In verses 10 and 11, Isaiah introduces a new concept, the idea that men will be able to see their God, among them, loving and caring for them, as a shepherd tends his flock. It is a promise of relationship with One who was thought of as untouchable, far off.

The chapter goes on to relate something of God’s omnipotence as Isaiah describes Creation, and introduces Christ by inviting the question, “Who?” In the many phrases that contain that word, the sentiment is, “Who was God’s companion at the forming of the earth?” It reminds me of a large part of today’s chapter of Proverbs, when the Spirit of Wisdom was described as God’s other attendant at Creation. The resulting picture is one of the complete Trinity, with Father constructing all, Jesus the Son at His right hand, and the Holy Spirit diligently speeding wisdom and understanding to keep all Creation flowing smoothly.

Verse 27 has something special for the “terminally unique” that I found interesting, but the most important part of Chapter 40 is the hope it contains. No matter how deep one’s understanding of God is, or what questions remain, man can rely on the knowledge that He made us, He is powerful enough to sustain us, and He will not abandon those who trust in Him.

28 Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.”

From the “Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous, page 86:

“For we are now on a different basis of trusting and relying upon God. We trust infinite God rather than our finite selves.”