Friday, May 28, 2010

A Breakthrough for Gary and His Family

We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.

“Don't be so naive and self-confident. You're not exempt. You could fall flat on your face as easily as anyone else. Forget about self-confidence; it's useless. Cultivate God-confidence.”

- 1 Corinthians 10:12, The Message

"The power to honor the truth – to speak it and be it – is at the heart of true masculinity."

- Leanne Payne

I began my personal Twelve Step recovery program about 3 years ago as a way to get a grip on my workaholism. For years my wife had been bugging me about not being home enough. She also complained that when I was at home, I was “not really there.” It wasn’t until I was in my early fifties and facing divorce and the loss of my family that I started to take her seriously. So, my wife and I went to see our local pastor and he suggested that I had a problem with my attitude and priorities about my work. (I thought he was full of BS.) He also suggested that I meet with a professional counselor who told me flat-out that he thought I was addicted to my work. (Bummer, I thought. I love my work.)

Fearing that my wife would leave and take the kids, I joined the men’s recovery group at my church and slowly I began to see that I really was addicted to work. I realized this not because of the ridiculously long hours I put in but because I was doing my work for all the wrong reasons. I was more than passionate about my work. It was how I defined myself. The only way I thought of myself was in relationship to work. If work was good, I was good. If work was bad, I would feel like everything in life was bad. No matter how I sliced and diced it I knew that I was a workaholic.

Following the guidance I got from the recovery group, I enlisted the help of a man who had been a longtime participant in the group. He is a recovering alcoholic and seemed to know what recovery was all about. I asked him to help me do the Twelve Steps and he agreed. We become close friends as he helped me work the steps for myself. While I was doing my recovery program, I continued to see the same counselor about once a month.

When I got to Step Ten, my sponsor suggested that I spend a month keeping an ongoing journal of my days, noting my schedule, my activities, my thoughts and my feelings. This seemed like a strange thing to do but I knew that my sponsor had done it for himself years before, and when I discussed it with my counselor he thought it was a good idea too. So, not being quite sure of what this was all about, I began to keep an ongoing journal that inventoried my life in real time. It was like recording my life while my life was taking place.

Much of my work responsibility has to do with travel. I am all over the country, spending 10-15 days a month away from home. Occasionally, but not very often, I will succumb to the temptation to look at an adult movie at the hotels I stay in. I know it’s not the right thing to do but sometimes I just get overwhelmed with temptation and I do it anyway. One of these situations happened during the period of time that I was doing my Step Ten daily journal. I had an unexpected delay in my travel due to weather and I ended up spending the night in a hotel instead of flying home like I had planned. You guessed it, I ordered a pay-per-view porno movie from the privacy of my hotel room and I viewed it for about 20 minutes while entertaining myself, if you know what I mean. Of course I felt bad about it. I knew it wasn’t right. But I don’t believe in beating myself up so I just wrote it down in my journal and then I tried to put it behind me.

I got up bright and early the next morning to catch my flight home. When I got home that afternoon I was happy to see my wife, but I was also tired and felt somewhat uncomfortable being with her. My daughter, who was 13 at the time, got home later that evening and immediately she came running up to me to give me a hug and a kiss. I felt uncomfortable about seeing her, too. My daughter seemed to be more aware of the discomfort between us than I was. She said to me, “Daddy, why don’t you want to be with me? Is there something wrong with me?” This shocked me, but I quickly regained my wits and I assured her that everything was okay. She didn’t question me but I could tell that she didn’t believe me either. She went off to her room and I made note of this exchange in my journal. Late that evening, as my wife and I were preparing to go to bed, she said, “Gary, what’s wrong? You seem distant like you used to be.” I assured her that everything was good, we crawled into bed and I tried to go to sleep.

Two hours later I was still awake and my mind had started to race. I got up, went into the kitchen and began to make some notes in my inventory journal. Then, clear as day, some of the events of the last couple of days jumped right off the pages of my journal at me. I realized that my careless actions of looking at the porn movie had impacted me much like my workaholism had affected me in the past. In the past I had used my work like a drug addict uses drugs. I worked to escape the challenges of life -- especially the challenges of intimacy -- and now I realized that I had also used the porn movie in much the same way, and it was affecting me negatively just like my workaholism had done. As these things came clear to me, I was writing them down in my journal. The more I wrote down, the more clear-headed I became about the diabolical subtleties of my addictions. I could see that my attempts to “escape” were triggered by the simplest of things like being too tired, feeling lonely or sorry for myself, or being upset about something that I could not control. I also realized that my escapes, i.e. workaholism and porn, had a terrible effect on the people who I loved the most. My workaholism and porn use had been like an invisible poison that was slowly killing me and my family. Even though my family didn’t know about the porn movie, its negative impact on me created a negative impact on them. It kept us from having a close relationship with one another. Finally, I realized that the opportunities God was giving me to recover would never exist if I lived indiscriminately. There is too much at stake for me not to dig deep and identify the weak points in my character and my life. Not only too much at stake for me but also too much at stake for my family.

My wife is a very early riser and so early the next morning - it was a Saturday - I sat down with her before the kids got up. I apologized to her for being distant. I acknowledged that I did feel very self-conscious when she tried to be close to me the day before. I told her that I had looked at a porn movie at the hotel and I explained to her what I had learned through my journaling. Amazingly, she didn’t shoot me. Now, she wasn’t happy at all about me looking at porn, but I think she was very relieved to hear me acknowledge how I get diverted and distracted by things. Interestingly and much to my surprise, she seemed to recognize that I had made a breakthrough in my growth; I’d had an experience that would make my heart more accessible to her.

Later that day I spoke to my daughter. I apologized to her for being distant. I acknowledged that she deserved better from me and I told her of my desire to interact with her in a more relaxed, honest and faithful way. I told her that she was my greatest delight and that I was aware how my past actions had not always conveyed my true love for her. I told her of my commitment to do a better job of being her Dad. I didn’t tell her about my use of porn because, as my wife and I had discussed, I knew it would hurt her; she was just too young and she didn’t need to know. I may tell her more about my struggles when she is older, but I’ll wait until then to decide.

Looking back, I don’t think things would have turned out this way had I not been continuously taking my inventory. The things I notice about myself now are different than when I first began the Twelve Steps, but they are no less important for me to deal with. My relationships with my wife and children are much better now. I never dreamed we would laugh so much. My wife will occasionally point out that I am being distant or aloof but I really don’t mind her telling me this anymore. It doesn’t feel like nagging the way it used to. My kids and I are now better at expressing ourselves to one another. I think they feel better with me and with each other because I am better able to express my love and delight in them.

I am thankful for my sponsor and my counselor who have helped guide me in this experience. Even more, I thank God for being there for me and I thank my family for not giving up on me. I still keep a journal because I am still working Step Ten.


Insights and Inspirations for Christian Twelve Step Recovery
By David Zailer and The Men and Women of Operation Integrity
Chapter Ten Segment Three
Copyright David Zailer, 2008
Operation Integrity
24040 Camino del Avion #A115
Monarch Beach CA 92629
1-800-762-0430
operationintegrity@cox.net

Thursday, May 27, 2010

True Forgiveness

We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

“Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.”

- Philippians 2:3,The Message

“The people who gave you the consequences are not your enemies. By seeing those who give you consequences as the enemy, you keep yourself stuck in justifying your behavior. Your real problem is your denial and self–delusion.”

- Patrick Carnes, Ph.D. Facing the Shadow, page 16

True forgiveness is something that we can give and something we can receive but we can never force it on others or demand it from others. Forgiveness does not condone, excuse or minimize wrongdoing. Forgiving simply means to look directly at the wrongdoer, knowing full well the destructive impact of their actions, recognizing them for who they are and what they have done and then offering to them a mercy and grace that is completely undeserved.

The giving and receiving of forgiveness is an act of humility. When we forgive, we see others, even the most disturbed, with a kind of empathy that is fundamental to our deepest humanity. It is the way God created us to be. With empathy and forgiveness, we see others as people whom God loves. We see them as people God wants to be close to. We honor God by seeing the people He created, no matter how undeserving they are, as worthy of love and respect. This doesn’t mean that forgiveness guarantees that all of our relationships will go back to the way they were before. Forgiveness, after all, does not excuse inexcusable acts. It sees the facts and sets healthy parameters for the future. This is needed for both the offender and the victim to move forward and live a better life in the future.

We need to be careful not to “ask for forgiveness” when what we really want is to be excused for our wrongdoing. Wrongdoing is never an accident. Accidents can be excused, but selfish people that do selfish things need forgiveness. Asking for forgiveness is an act of repentance as well as an act of confession. Repentance doesn’t debate; it never bargains or rationalizes. Confession makes no claim, nor does it minimize or argue. We are not here, after all, to make excuses. We are here to make a simple request for undeserved mercy. We should never dispute the facts when confronted about wrongdoing we have done. Let the criticisms and the charges be what they are. We are responsible for the way that we forgive others. How other people forgive us is their business, not ours. We may never again experience the same respect and freedom we had before. We may never again enjoy the unmitigated trust of our families. Other people will invariably adjust to how they relate with us in the future. The boundaries that they impose on us are a direct result of the pain and hurt we have caused them. Being committed to love others unconditionally, we should accept these limitations, committing ourselves to respect the lives of others in the same way that we would like to be respected.

If we struggle to forgive others, we should pray for those who have hurt us or let us down. Prayer helps us to overcome the resentments that inhibit our emotional growth. We should pray, asking that God will give both our enemies and our loved ones hope for their life, help for their difficulties, grace for their struggles, and the courage to live abundantly. We should pray for our enemies in the same way that we should pray for ourselves.

Insights and Inspirations for Christian Twelve Step Recovery
By David Zailer and The Men and Women of Operation Integrity
Chapter Nine Segment Three
Copyright David Zailer, 2008
Operation Integrity
24040 Camino del Avion #A115
Monarch Beach CA 92629
1-800-762-0430
operationintegrity@cox.net

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Forgiveness – The Way of Healthy Living

We made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

- Ephesians 4:32, NIV

“To err is human, to forgive is divine.”

- Alexander Pope

Forgiveness brings us home to be with God, spiritually. Forgiveness is God’s standard practice for healthy living, and where we live spiritually affects where we are emotionally and psychologically. This is why forgiveness is so important to our overall mental health. It is the framework of compassion and empathy upon which our future healthfulness is built. As we breathe in and breathe out forgiveness, we are inhaling and exhaling God’s most life-giving antidote for sin and destruction. Why do we forgive others? Because God forgave us first. Why does God forgive us? He forgives us so we can have life. God knows that nothing is more important for our emotional, psychological and spiritual health than forgiveness, and nothing will help us to make the most of God’s gift of forgiveness like forgiving ourselves.

Forgiving ourselves begins with understanding our own human frailties and shortcomings. This will help us to have a more compassionate perspective. After all, our addictions did make sense to us at the time that we were doing them, didn’t they? God understands this, you see. He understands why we have done the things that we have done. He understands that, as silly and as stupid as our actions were, they somehow made sense to us at the time that we were doing them. God understands the insanity of addiction. He understands that while we are responsible for making good use of the help He provides, we are not completely at fault for all of our insane thinking. We don’t know everything and our decisions and thinking have suffered from faulty and misguided beliefs. Because of His complete and total understanding, He is willing to forgive us for the things we have done. For example, even when Christ was being crucified, He didn’t hold anything against the people who were killing him. In Luke 23:34 Jesus, while being crucified, is quoted as saying, “Father, forgive these people for they don’t know what they are doing.” Our attitude should be the same. As God forgives us we are called to forgive those who have hurt us. This begins with a compassionate understanding of our failures and addictions.

Many sponsors and counselors will encourage us to include our own names on the list we make of the people we have hurt. After all, no one has been more hurt by our addictions than we have. Unless we forgive ourselves we will never fully enjoy the forgiveness that God and other people offer to us. Forgiving ourselves connects us more closely with God and the world around us. As we forgive ourselves, like God does, we will be better able to escape the resentment we have had for other people, for God and for ourselves, too. Self forgiveness helps to increase our appreciation for just how connected and interrelated to all of God’s creation we are, ways that we will never fully understand until we are with Christ in eternity. Forgiving ourselves helps us to participate with God’s creation in healthy and dynamic ways, ways that will far exceed our greatest expectations and assumptions.

Steve and Mattie are a young married couple who had previously lived lives of addictive sexual immorality, until they made the decision to give their lives to God by pursuing an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. Together, they began working a 12 Step recovery program which included long-term counseling. Their counselor gave them an assignment, which was to read some Christ centered recovery literature after which they wrote this statement.

We struggled to survive life for many years. Everyday we felt like victims because we had both been severely abused when we were children. But now, we don’t think of ourselves as victims anymore. With God’s help, a change is underway inside of us. We think differently than we used to think – our attitude is different. We don’t need to destroy ourselves or each other with anger and hate like we used to. We don’t need to think thoughts of revenge anymore. God knows what has happened to us and He is in the process of making it all turn out good. He knows the truth. He will make the correct judgments and He will give mercy as He sees fit. We leave all of our hurts and mistakes in his hands.

We now know that God will not judge us for what happened to us, but we will be judged by how we live our lives and how we treat others. We are responsible for our actions. We are responsible for what we do with what we know. We have no power to change the past, but as God is our strength we can change our future. So, we have decided to make the most of the opportunities to experience healing and grow. As we experience God’s power working within us, we will pass this healing onto our children, our family and to others, even to those who have hurt us. The ripples of healing in the pond of our lives will spread throughout future generations.”
-- Steven and Mattie, 2007 In recovery for 2 years


How have we hurt ourselves through self-resentment and self-destruction?

This was an excerpt from Insights and Inspirations for Christian Twelve Step Recovery

By David Zailer and The People of Operation Integrity

Chapter Eight Segment Three

Copyright David Zailer, 2008
Operation Integrity
24040 Camino del Avion #A115
Monarch Beach CA 92629
1-800-762-0430
operationintegrity@cox.net

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Humbly Asking

We humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.


God’s kingdom is like a treasure hidden in a field for years and then accidentally found by a trespasser. The finder is ecstatic – what a find! – and proceeds to sell everything he owns to raise money and buy that field.
Matthew 13:44, The Message


“So in terms of what every man needs most crucially, all man’s power is powerless because at its roots, of course, the deepest longing of the human soul is the longing for God, and this no man has the power to satisfy.”
- Frederick Buechner, The Magnificent Defeat

Humbly Asking

How many times have we asked God to give us patience only to get mad with ourselves or God when “patience” didn’t show up when we wanted it? Perhaps we really weren’t interested in being more patient. Maybe, what we really wanted was relief from the tension and discomfort that we were feeling at that time. With what we are learning now, we will probably find it to be much more helpful to simply admit to ourselves, to God and to another person that we are impatient by nature and that we want to change. We want to learn to think and to act differently - patiently. This is real world humility. This kind of openness helps us to have a more natural willingness to ask others for direction and then to responsibly follow whatever good advice we get.

Saying, “Dear God, I want to be more patient” sounds good, but we may miss the subtle demand that we are making, holding God responsible for our impatient character and problems. But when we say “Dear God, “I am an impatient person,” we offer the truth about ourselves and we accept responsibility for being impatient. Humbly asking is asking for changes to our character and thinking with no demand for changes in the external circumstances of our lives.

The ultimate purpose of all prayer is to get hold of God. To do so we have to let go of our pride, inviting God to act according to His purpose in our lives. Changes in our circumstances are optional; changes in our character are necessary. We become the changes we desire. God will be our strength and He will empower us to do what we are responsible to do.

Insights and Inspirations for Christian Twelve Step Recovery
By David Zailer and The Men and Women of Operation Integrity
Chapter Seven Segment Three
Copyright David Zailer, 2008
Operation Integrity
24040 Camino del Avion #A115
Monarch Beach CA 92629
1-800-762-0430
operationintegrity@cox.net

Monday, May 24, 2010

Becoming Ready

Becoming Ready

We became entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

“When the Lord saw that he had caught Moses’ attention, God called to him from the bush, “Moses! Moses!”
Here I am!” Moses replied.””

- Exodus 3:4

"Since most of us are born with an abundance of natural desires, it isn’t strange that we often let these far exceed their intended purpose. When they drive us blindly, or we willfully demand that they supply us with more satisfactions or pleasures that are possible or due us, that is the point at which we depart from the degree of perfection that God wishes for us here on earth. That is the measure of our character defects or if you wish, of our sins."

- Alcoholics Anonymous

Becoming Ready

The way that God deals with us on a personal level will be as unique as we are as individuals and as mysterious as God is himself. While we all share common ground with one another, we will all have some very specific and unique experiences that will prepare us for the life that God has planned for us. What God uses to get hold of one person may not work for another. No matter how it happens, each of us will be led, if not already there, into a wilderness experience. Our hopes will be lost and our dreams will be destroyed. We will be reduced to the helpless and dependent state of a child. As painful and difficult as this may sound, this is all good news because it is only in a childlike experience of dependency that we are made ready to receive the best that God has to give us.

Our friend Moses, from the Scriptures, is one example of how God pulled someone into a life changing encounter with himself. As a young man, Moses had a difficult time staying out of trouble. Conflict seemed to follow him wherever he went. He seemed to be at his best and at his worst when he was responding to the people and the circumstances around him. Moses had a strong desire to change the things that he thought were wrong, but very often his best intentions, combined with his misguided reactions, made things worse. Moses used his God-given talents in ways that were both bad and good. Moses was, in himself, conflicted, just like we are.

The story of Moses’ life is told in the biblical books of Exodus and Deuteronomy. These books paint a colorful picture of a man who had all the best intentions, and at the same time they also show us a man who had a painfully difficult time putting his good intentions into healthy and productive action. Moses’ character defects often blocked the good outcomes that he intended. We need to read the biblical record in order to see the complete picture of Moses’ life, but here are a few low and high points of interest that will help us to see how God worked to change Moses’ thinking, which in turn changed Moses’ way of living.

Born an Israelite and separated from his parents as an infant, Moses was raised by the daughter of the king of Egypt. He was educated by the best that the culture of his day had to offer. One day as a young man, seeing one of his Hebrew countrymen being beaten, Moses went to his countryman’s aid and killed an Egyptian citizen. Later, when Moses was confronted about the killing, he fled into the wilderness in order to escape prosecution for the murder that he committed. There, in the wilderness, he married and started a family, and he lived in obscurity. In his running away, Moses abandoned himself to the wilderness. He abandoned his lost hopes and his broken dreams. But, God did not abandon Moses. After many years, the king of Egypt died. Moses, who was now tending sheep for his father-in-law, had given up and maybe forgotten all about his grandiose ideas of heroic escapades. But God had not forgotten, and God had certainly not given up on Moses. God was at work deep in Moses’ heart and mind during this time of obscurity. God was preparing Moses for the future that He had in mind for him. When God’s work of preparation was fulfilled, He reached out and made contact with Moses in the form of the burning bush. When God spoke, Moses, having been made ready in ways that Moses was not even aware of, answered back to God. Then, because he was ready and willing, Moses set out to become all that God had prepared him to be. As a result of God’s work of preparation, coupled with Moses’ humble willingness to change, Moses returned to Egypt where he led his Israelite brothers and sisters out of a captivity they had suffered for over 400 years. (Please read Exodus Chapter 3 for a more detailed account of how all this happened.) Like Moses, we all have spent years living in obscurity and pain, as proven by our addictions. We never meant to end up the way we were, but we did. We never intended to get sidetracked, but we did. Our addictions prove how we had given up on ourselves, how we had lost our hopes and our dreams. But, and here is the good news, God has not given up on us. He is at work. He is sustaining our lives and He is waiting for us to be ready to have the defects in our character removed from us.

Our good intentions and our character defects are like two sides of the same coin. They live together, side by side, until we become entirely ready to have the character defects that corrupt our good intentions removed from us. This means that we are ready to be made into fundamentally different kind of people. Staying the same will no longer be acceptable to us. We want to be different in order to move on and experience the life that God has to give us.

Feeling dissatisfied with who we are creates a deep desire for change. Dissatisfaction and desire go hand-in-hand much like our good intentions and our character defects. The kind of dissatisfaction that leads to desire for change makes us intentional about our recovery. It motivates us to take action. The desire that we feel for change is a gift from God. It is a quality that is unique to the human experience. It reveals the redeemable condition of our heart. Godly dissatisfaction and the desire to change create a vision for how we will live, not only recovering from our addictions, but as men and women who are truly free. Godly desire is about becoming ready to have the entire panorama of our inner life reformatted and changed by the perfect design of God. Godly desire makes us ready to set aside our own demands for personal satisfaction. It makes us ready to be the kind of people who love other people in ways that only God makes possible. Our old nature will dry up and it will begin to fall away. We will bloom from the inside out. We will realize that we are prepared, or maybe it is better to say that we are being prepared, to live life in a way that only God can give. Just like our friend, Moses.

The story of Moses’ life is a wonderful example of how God makes good use of our failures. It is safe to say that Moses was better prepared by God during the time that he spent living in obscurity than in any way that Moses could have ever prepared himself. Just like with Moses, God is doing His most intimate work inside of us during the times when we feel the most broken and hopeless. It is during times of difficulty and failure that God whittles away at our ego and prepares our character to become more like His own. We can’t always see or feel this most intimate work of God, but its reality is proven through our own willingness -- the willingness to change that we now have but did not have before. Nothing is ever wasted if we are willing to give it to God. The more God rules our minds and our hearts, the more our failures and addictions will become assets to us and to those around us.

Insights and Inspirations for Christian Twelve Step Recovery

By David Zailer and The Men and Women of Operation Integrity

Chapter Six Segment Three

Copyright David Zailer, 2008
Operation Integrity
24040 Camino del Avion #A115
Monarch Beach CA 92629
1-800-762-0430
operationintegrity@cox.net

Friday, May 21, 2010

Becoming our Friend

Insights and Inspirations
for
Christian Twelve Step Recovery

By David Zailer
and
The Men and Women of Operation Integrity

Chapter Five Segment Three

Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

"If we claim that we’re free of sin, we’re only fooling ourselves. A claim like that is errant nonsense. On the other hand, if we admit our sins – make a clean break of them – he won’t let us down, he’ll be true to himself. He’ll forgive our sins and purge us of all wrongdoing. If we claim that we've never sinned, we out-and-out contradict God --make a liar out of him. A claim like that only shows off our ignorance of God."

--I John 1:8-10 The Message

“Tell the truth. It will confound your enemies and astound your friends.”

--Mark Twain

Becoming our Friend

Jerry does a great job of telling us what it was like for him to get honest and admit what he was really thinking and feeling on the inside. As he became honest with himself, he was better able to get honest with God as well as those who were close to him. Jerry discovered that self-honesty was required for his good intentions to become reality. This simple principle holds true for all of us.

Trust, is a byproduct of honesty. It is essential for all healthy relationships, whether it’s a relationship with someone else or our relationship with ourselves. We all have people in our lives that we don’t trust because they have not been honest with us. When we can’t trust someone, we can’t feel at peace with them, comfortable with them or have a real friendship with them. It’s the same way with ourselves. When we are dishonest with ourselves we won’t feel comfortable, and we won’t be able to be at peace with ourselves. This is why we so often resort to some kind of mood- or mind-altering experience. Knowing this helps us to better understand how our addictions have become entrenched inside of us. We will also better understand why we have felt lonely and isolated for so much of our lives.

In the past, we’ve seen ourselves through a lens of deception and secrets. Now, we throw off the blinders so that we can see ourselves more realistically. By admitting the truth about ourselves to ourselves we become better integrated with the reality of life. The holes inside of us get plugged up and the bleeding stops. The broken pieces of our hearts and minds start to find their right places again. We become ready to receive God’s compassion and care, which will take root in the very places where our personal deceptions have lived. This blows the lid off the box that our addictions have placed us in. Our identity, that we were made in the image of God, finds new life as we become connected with God in this way.

We become the most blessed of all people when we get honest with God and ourselves. We go from being our own worst enemy to being one of our most intimate friends. In purging the dishonesty from our lives, we purge the things that have been destroying us. We will see our future will be good, irrespective of the difficulties that come our way. Our days will be brighter, the sun will be warmer, the breezes of life will be cooler and fresher. We will find that life that is well worth living.

Copyright David Zailer, 2008
Operation Integrity
24040 Camino del Avion #A115
Monarch Beach CA 92629
1-800-762-0430
operationintegrity@cox.net

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Who’s to Blame?

Insights and Inspirations
for
Christian Twelve Step Recovery

By David Zailer
and
The Men and Women of Operation Integrity

Chapter Four Segment Three

We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

“People may be pure in their own eyes, but the LORD examines their motives.”
-Proverbs 16:2 NLT
“Whatever games are played with us, we must play no games with ourselves, but deal in our privacy with the last honesty and truth.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Who’s to Blame?

Life is hard. Troubles come at us from every direction. Sometimes our troubles appear to be so big that it feels as if life itself is conspiring against us, keeping us from succeeding in the most important areas of our lives.

Perhaps more than most, people who struggle with addiction know what it’s like to feel as if God and the whole world are against them. Sometimes, we can even get a strange and sick kind of satisfaction from feeling this way. Succumbing to self-pity is an unhealthy way of trying to escape the reality of how we have lived irresponsibly. This is because when we are under the influence of self-pity, we alter the way we feel, all in a delusional attempt to sidestep the deep interpersonal convictions of truth that we do not want to face. Usually we won’t directly tell others about the perceived injustices that we think that God, and life, have imposed on us. It’s more likely that we’ll just go through our days with a negative disposition, politely mentioning the undeserved troubles that we have. It is common to blame God for things that are not his fault, and as part of our Step Four inventory, we need to understand how we have blamed God for our troubles in the past. We need to get honest about this. Everyone blames God for something, and we certainly are no exception.

We know that God is all powerful but at the same time it is critical that we understand that He is not all controlling. God creates people, not robots. He creates us with the dignity and the ability to make choices. Then the choices that we make impact our life and the lives of others. The effects of some choices will be good and others will be not so good. The choices that people make, and their effects, are not God’s responsibility. The relevant question for us is this: How can we cooperate with God in such a way that the bad things that have happened to us in the past can become things that are good for us today and in the future? For you see, in the past we have been our own worst enemy. In using self-pity and self-delusion, we have conspired against ourselves. In the past we would rather blame someone else for our troubles than to change ourselves and the way we live. We’ve hurt ourselves in ways that no one else could ever do. Remember, after all, that addiction is a self-assault.

Seeing things from God’s point of view, we’ll begin to recognize that God’s plan for our lives is a kind of conspiracy, too. It is the conspiracy of grace and love. Scripture reveals how God has planned and intended, conspired that is, to bring all people into a relationship with Him. This is the greatest conspiracy of all time. The only one that will succeed, forever. It is ongoing. No one can stop it or defeat it. In the end, no one will doubt that God’s love will rule. For us, the only thing in doubt is whether we are ready and willing to act in a manner that will help us experience God’s love in the here and now.

As we work through this section of questions, let’s look at how we have inhibited God’s love in our lives. We all have blamed God for things that were not his fault. He knows it and He is not holding it against us today. This is our chance to get in better touch with our inner reality and in so doing we’ll get in touch with God in a more honest and realistic way.

Let’s Get Real

What difficulties do you have that cause you to blame God?

How have you expressed unwarranted pride and anger when people and the world did not cooperate with your plans?

How have you tried to manipulate your feelings through self-pity?

How and when and with whom do you feel excluded and deprived?

When did you first think that you may have an addiction?

Who hurt you? Was it parents, other family members, people from church or school, neighbor, enemy, friend?

How have you blamed God for the hurt that others have done to you?

How have you violated or objectified others sexually, personally or socially?

How have you defied your spiritual convictions as a result of your addictions?

Who is the target of your jealousy and why?

How have you been greedy?

How has your addiction affected your relationship with God?

How have you been determined to get your own way?

How have you confused God with church?

How have you confused religious activity with an intimate relationship with God?

When and why do you feel self-pity?

What do you feel guilty about?

Why do you lie?

Copyright David Zailer, 2008
Operation Integrity
24040 Camino del Avion #A115
Monarch Beach CA 92629
1-800-762-0430
operationintegrity@cox.net