Friday, July 29, 2011

Life Liberated

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

Pay all your debts, except the debt of love for others. You can never finish paying that! If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill all the requirements of God's law.
Romans 13:8, NIV

“Honest men fear neither the light nor the dark.”
- Thomas Fuller, M.D.

Life Liberated

Learning to love ourselves the way that God loves us will give us an ever increasing freedom to live our lives. This freedom to live is not just a freedom from our addictions; it is a fully liberated life that begins on the inside of us and then it moves out into all of the ways that we express ourselves. The liberty that God gives is not subject to the limitations and demands that we experience in our day-to-day lives, and while this freedom is bigger than our everyday lives, it does not make us immune to feeling fear when we are faced with uncertainty. God gives the kind of freedom and liberty that empowers and equips us to act with courage even in the face of uncertainty, when we feel fear. And, in the same way, we may feel pain but we can act with kindness even when feeling pain. The gift and responsibility of freedom is most evident when we address the negative consequences we’ve created, and when we make amends to those who have been hurt by the way we’ve lived in the past. When speaking with those to whom we owe amends, we will want to share with them that we recognize that we have had an addiction, that we know that our past actions have been hurtful and that we want to make things right to the best of our ability. Sharing the facts of our addictions and our mistakes in a general way allows us to communicate with others from a standpoint of humility and honesty. We don’t have to share every gory and ugly detail with them. We don’t need to air out all of our dirty laundry either. This is not about the past; it is about the present and about the future. We should only share what will be helpful to them and to others. Being forthright in this way, we begin to establish healthier communication with those that we’ve hurt. It will also help to put them at ease and it will put us in a place where we can more effectively make the amends that we need to make. Sharing in this way will also open the door for others to honestly share their feelings with us. Dialogue must be an honest two-way street. We must be willing to listen – honestly and openly listen -- in order to understand how we have hurt them and what we need to do to help them.

Some amends can and should be made face-to-face. Some can never be made directly. Others will have to be postponed for a better time. We’ll be of little benefit to anyone, if in our attempts to clear our own conscience, we offer ourselves as sacrificial lambs. We should consult with our sponsors and our counselors about situations where we face serious consequences. We never want to run away from the reality of our past mistakes but we also do not want to be shortsighted, disregarding our current relationships or responsibilities in an attempt to be a hero to the past. Our sponsors and counselors helped us to know how to handle each situation. When we face situations where people demand certain answers from us that we do not want to give, we consult with our sponsors and counselors. Sometimes a three-way meeting between us, our victim and our counselors is necessary for things to get going in the right direction.

There is rarely a good reason to hurry. It is far better to do recovery well than to do it fast!

Insights and Inspirations for Christian Twelve Step Recovery
By David Zailer and The Men and Women of Operation Integrity
Chapter Nine Segment Seven
Copyright David Zailer, 20
Operation Integrity
24040 Camino del Avion #A115
Monarch Beach CA 92629
1-800-762-0430
operationintegrity@cox.net

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Moving Forward, Back Into Relationship

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

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.
Deuteronomy 31:6, NIV


“Until you conquer the fear of being an outsider, an outsider you will remain."
- C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

Moving Forward, Back into Relationship

We are going to make more and more amazing discoveries as we continue to make a list of the people we have harmed. One of these discoveries will be when we realize how incredible it is that there is anyone who loves us at all, considering the way that we have treated others in the past. However, at the same time, as we face the facts of our self-centeredness in more realistic ways, we will also learn that we have always been loved far more than we could ever understand, because of God and the love He has shown to us. Recognizing our depraved nature in contrast to God’s forgiving love enlightens us to a new way of thinking and operating. Fear becomes displaced by courage. Our relationships are affected for the better. We can positively relate with others today in ways that would have been impossible before because of our fear of being hurt and rejected. But, there is a new kind of power inside of us now. The life we live is no longer our own. God, through His love, has taken us over.

Following through with the change that is happening inside of us, we begin to treat people differently, respectfully. The first thing we must do to make amends to others is to stop hurting them. In the past we treated others the way they treated us, but now we will treat others the way God has treated us -- respectfully; whether they deserve it or not. What others do to us and how they treat us is much less important now. We hope that others will give us love and respect, but if not, we won’t need to get upset, retaliate or fall into self-pity anymore. Our desire is to simply love others with the same love that we have received from God and others. We don’t have to manufacture this love, we just pass it along. We share what we have been given. Thinking in this way helps us to set aside our fears of rejection; then we will be able to do for others what God, our sponsors and our counselors have done for us.

Motivated by the love we have discovered, coupled with the commitment to change the generational patterns that our families have developed, we set some boundaries for ourselves and we accept boundaries that others place on us. Then, we take these next steps forward. First, we became willing to make amends to those we hurt -- unconditionally. Second, we became willing to recognize and accept healthy limitations and to make “living amends” by the way that we relate to others in the future. Hopefully we have learned not to profess our “good intentions.” We don’t make promises, especially promises that we cannot guarantee. Instead, let us make good actions and let those actions speak for us.

If we ever refuse an opportunity to make a wrong right, we shut the doors and windows of the spiritual home that God is building within us. Nothing gets in and nothing gets out. Darkness begins to close in and we will miss the leading of God’s Spirit. Without the benefit of God’s Spirit leading us, we will inevitably create more of the chaos that we are trying to avoid.

So, let us take what we have learned and move it from our head to our heart and from our heart to our feet, where relationships are renewed step by step. With our feet of action placed firmly on God and a supportive recovery fellowship, we will find the stability that we need to make our lives, and the lives of others, change for the better.

Everybody wins!


Copyright David Zailer, 2008

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Healing For The Soul Interview of David Zailer - July 2011

From Healing for The Soul Interview
Interview w/ David Zailer- July 22, 2011
Shelly Warren, HFTS Admin. Assist.
We’re excited to share with our recent interview with David Zailer, author, speaker, and executive director of Operation Integrity.  David assists others in their healing and recovery with compassion   We are glad to share his insights with you this month and hope you’ll browse the OI website and pray about supporting them as well.

Interviewed by Shelly Warren, July 22, 2011

SW:  I think most folks who’ve been intentionally walking out their recovery for a good amount of time know that God is the one who empowers all growth and every victory and gain in as we overcome addiction, and it’s obvious that He’s growing the service you guys provide to your brothers in recovery.  Tell us about how OI is expanding; what has that looked like in terms of where things started and some of the latest developments?

DZ:  I think its most accurate for me to admit up front that I never envisioned where we would be today or where I believe we’re heading now.  In the beginning I was just meeting with a few other men informally as a way to encourage each other and ourselves to grow and recover from addictions related to pornography or sex or lust.  Because of the mutual benefit we gained from meeting each other, we developed a growth mentality.  We knew we had a good thing and we wanted to share it with others. That in turn brought us to a point where we incorporated and became Operation Integrity.  We began to chronicle our own experiences individually and as a fellowship, and these chronicles became the book When Lost Men Come Home.  It also brought other people to us that had other addictions. So we became expansive & inclusive. Expansive in that we were willing to look at every area of our lives.  We made the decision we were not going to be afraid to address any area of our lives.  We became inclusive in that we had a broader invitation to those who would come be a part of our group.  So we became more committed to address addiction in general.  Yes, there are those categories of addictions (chemical dependencies, food, sex, relational, religious) but we began to address the reality that human beings tend to become addicted to things.  We tend to have destructive habits and relationships that we dependent on.  So we try to address this several ways:  through education, through the fellowship groups/communities; we encourage people to be involved in their own individual program, to endeavor in their own 12-step community; the counseling/psychotherapy piece is important, and not to ever be minimized, the spiritual formation piece.  This is a real platform for people to swim deeper in their relationship with God; that is a very close kindred connection with the recovery.  For people to have true recovery of their addiction that spreads through the entire panorama of their life, their spiritual formation is the rain that nourishes the soil. 
SW:  Right, that Spiritual Aspect of Addiction  is pivotal, and I remember reading statements about it in your book and seeing the mention of it on your website how our religious activity doesn’t cure addiction it’s going to reinforce it.  That really grabbed my attention. Your website states:  Great care must be taken when an addict seeks to reconnect him/herself spiritually to not confuse religious activity with authentic spiritual relationship. Religion will never cure addiction, it only reinforces it. An authentic spiritual relationship is the foundation of a transforming kind of recovery.

SW: Earlier you referred to others who walked alongside you and together formed what would become OI.  Who are you referring to when you say ‘we’? 
DZ:  ‘We’ is all the original people (originally just me and 2 other guys) who are still connected with OI, and though they don’t live close to where I live any longer we’ve stayed connected relationally, we keep our communication open.  We’re still a part of each others recovery lives. 
When I speak of ‘we’, it’s layers of connected relationships; at the core we have a board of directors, all men who are recovering people who have worked much of their recovery in and around the OI program.  However there’s a larger broader voice in that including everyone who attends the groups as we communicate with one another.  We speak truth and love and acceptance into one another’s lives, and it develops a chorus if you will.  And so our literature is developed, (I do the general writing of it; I’m the one who puts my backside in the chair does the typing out) but the content and the voice really does come from a broad community.  We’ve had over 1000 people participate in the OI program, both here in southern California and in other areas of the country, but not everyone is involved to same degree.  It is a chorus, it is a community that’s continuing to develope a voice, and that comes out through the literature and communications at OI. 
SW: So the board is always getting feedback and paying attention to what others in recovery are saying. 
DV:  Right; the board of directors is very strong in keeping a pulse on the OI community; and as I interact with them as we develop literature in our communications, the board is constantly pushing and pulling, kneading the dough, so that we best communicate our experiences.    

SW: We talk about what it takes to be committed to recovery.  When people call in, one of the questions I hear a lot is ‘how long does it usually take to for someone to recover?’  or ‘how many months generally does someone meet w/ Jayson before they’re successful’.  I normally talk with them about how recovery actually becomes a lifestyle and is dependent on the individual, their goals, and how intentional they are about doing the ‘work’.  Tell me about some of the markers you look for that make you excited for someone in their recovery journey, things that indicate they are making gains in their healing process.
DZ: I think, first off, it’s fair to say that when people come into a recovery program whether it’s something like Healing for the Soul or Operation Integrity or one of the mainstream programs like AA or Al-anon…the day they walk in the door and admit their need, they’re already moving toward success.  I want to encourage people that they can begin to be successful on day one.  When people ask “how long is it going to take?” it’s almost like when a child asks “when am I going to be a grown up?”  That’s a very subjective thing.  I mean what is a grown up?  I’m 52 years old and I still haven’t figured that out.  The one thing that I see as really encouraging
sign post is when their focus, especially in their conversation when they’re sharing, is about how they’re dealing with their own issues.  They’re focused on their work but not minimizing. When I see someone who is sidetracking, they’re minimizing their issues, or they’re diverting the attention away from their issues, complaining about their spouse, or their problems or what this person is doing, or what they’re boss is doing,  the “other person’s” problem, etc.; that’s not recovery.  I look for people who are not diverting; they are keeping their attention on their own issues.  Another thing I look for are people who are willing to change.  People can talk great talk, but the people I look those who are willing to change the way they choose to spend their time, change their activities, or schedule, their friends, or the way they eat.  Especially for people with a sex addiction, I look for those people who are willing to change their relationships, the places where they go or don’t go.  Just recently a guy that I was working with made changes to his tv cable service so that he no longer had free and convenient access to pornography.  That was a simple practical move, but for him it made a profound difference for him.  It speaks volumes about what a person’s future success is going to be like.

SW:  And you know that’s what it took, that’s what it takes on an ongoing basis, really.   That’s the walk of transformation with God is that He’s able to show us ‘ok here’s another something I want you to change’, and it may not be as dark and terrible as some of the things we’ve turned away from before, but I believe that transformation is possible when He shows us things that are dangerous for our heart.  And so the decision becomes, are we willing to change? 
DZ:  Exactly, and especially in the addiction recovery world, we’re labeling, compartmentalizing, identifying the problem as a particular “ism”, and along with that we may have the perception or the belief that as long as the “ism” isn’t a problem any more, then I’m in good shape.  When in reality the addictive mechanism in the heart of soul of that human being is just going to morph, it’s just going to change and either re-attack, waiting for a boomerang effect and the next eruption, or it morphs into a different kind of destructive behavior.  One of the things I remember reading from The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous by Bill Wilson during my early experience as a recovering alcoholic, essentially says, wherever we decide that we will deviate from God’s will, that is the place where we begin to make ourselves vulnerable, and we’re likely to drink again.  So it is that ongoing diligence to be attentive and alert and willing to stay true to the path of recovery.

SW:  So as a mentor and counselor what types of red flags have you learned to be aware of as you walk with others in their recovery?  When do you share or point out an area of concern for them? 
Well there are the behaviors we mentioned before:  diverting from their own recovery; focusing on others’ problems; minimizing problems.  Some other red flags too, are when people begin to become exhausted.  It can be very fragile time.  Recovery is hard work, and people who are addressing addictions usually put themselves in situations where they are experiencing a great deal of chaos in their lives (marital stress, financial stress, stress at work or with children, etc.)  I don’t know of anyone who walks into recovery program and decides to recover out convenience or virtue, its usually out of catastrophe, they’ve got a serious problem.  One of the things I look for and they may not see it, is when they’re just exhausted.  They’re not getting enough rest at night, maybe they’re just relationally depleted & feeling very lonely, and maybe it’s because they’re working so much, they’re physically tired, not eating well, not taking care of themselves.  I look for this and try to encourage people:  yes, hard work is essential, and there need to be changes in your life, these are challenging times for you, but please, take good care.  I try to help them and interfere with their schedule, try to encourage them to eat well, to go on that walk.  I know one of the things I have to do is though I enjoy running and racket ball, sometimes I can do that in excess and I need to just go on a walk.  I find that I have to moderate myself.  Self care is a must for recovery. 

How crucial has the group support been in your own recovery journey?
Well, I , from the vantage point I have today, I do not  believe I’d Don’t think I’d have the recovery experience I have today w/out the long-term and ongoing recovery and support group experience…I hated it in the beginning, I hated it.  I did not like going to a place and being told that I’m supposed to identify with these people that were alcoholics and drug addicts and sex addicts.  It was a long journey for me to make peace w/ those kind of monikers. And I think part of the healing process for me is to understand that by going to the meetings I’m not labeling myself  just as those monikers, but I am accepting the reality of those things in my life so that I will not make the mistake of ignoring or denying them.  I’m making peace with reality.   And it really is the process of being in those groups and interacting w/ those people that gave me the experience of their acceptance.  They treated one another with respect and kindness and appreciation, and treating themselves the same way.  They weren’t beating themselves up or abusing themselves.   They would walk in and give and receive a hug or slap on the back and say “hello, my name’s…and I’m a sex addict.”  They made peace with those vulnerable and fragile places with themselves.  That’s been teaching me and helping me develop into someone who can do this for others by showing them respect and kindness, helping them recognize and accept those frail and vulnerable parts of themselves. 

SW:  That’s outstanding.  I can’t even put that into words how that felt the first few times I went to a wives’ group and just sat there and listened.  I couldn’t even talk. But just to hear these other women and realize that others understood, and we could take care of ourselves and our families, we didn’t have to beat ourselves up, and we could still love each other was healing for me.  There’s so much power in community, and for me I was able to recapture some dignity with myself.  I’ve found that those of us who deal with addictions lose our dignity; the degree of shame or loathing yourself or someone else really robs us of our true image.  In your book you mention returning to the image that God made us in.  What a life-long journey to discover this new “Made-in-his image” idea.

DZ: I don’t know exactly what that means, “made in God’s image”, but I know I’m going in that direction.  I so appreciate God’s genius and care in this:  the highest definition & vision we have of God is Jesus, and I just know that in the process of God in his leading and me in my following, there’s a partnership there, and it’s leading me into living out more of that image of God.  There’s nothing better for me.  I used to think in terms of a religious performance litmus test, and I was going to look, walk or talk a certain way.  In following God, does that affect the way I walk, yes! Does it affect the way I talk?  You bet!  But it so transcends the spiritual litmus test. 

SW:  What would you say to someone who is resistant to finding and becoming active in a 12-step type group?
DZ:  I do encounter people who for whatever reason are resistant to a recovery or support group, so first of all I’d wish them well, of course.  I know that God is not limited to helping through support and recovery groups.  He’s able to work in many ways.  I would wish them well but I would also encourage them to keep an open mind and not to shut the door on it.  I can’t talk anyone into recovery.  I’d just wish them the best, give them a card, and say if you ever reconsider please let us know. 

SW:  In an excellent and transparent interview you did with David Kyle Foster on his program, you shared something that really caught my attention about how you deal with temptation.  (You can watch the Pure Passion Interview here.)  We read some encouragement regarding temptation in 1 Corinthians 10:13 where Paul has written to those of faith in Christ that “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. We’d like to share with our readers again the help you’ve found God provides in those moments of decision.  About temptation you said:

DZ:  When temptation hits me now, I do two things:
1.       Remember what the inevitable results have always been, the pain, the misery, the sadness; and not just for me, but those around me as well.
2.       Remember and think about what God has laid before me.  If I move in obedience, I have an opportunity to swim deeply into the mystery of God’s goodness as He lays it before me.  I have the opportunity to become a part of eternal love and experience it play out in my life, even that day at that moment.

BUT, if I sin, which I so often to, I have the opportunity of confessions.  As I confess my faults, and all my foibles and all my sinfulness, God has moved me and redirected me back into that opportunity of goodness and love.”

That was 1-1/2 to 2 years ago, and it’s still relevant today, just as it was then.  God has never relieved me of all the pain of my addictions.  It’s very close to me.  I can recall it very, very easily.  That’s important for me because recovery has taught me to link my addictive behavior and the temptations that seek to take me there.  It connects me with inevitable pain. And that’s become a very profound reminder for me.  You know, sure I could go out and be involved in those old behaviors very easily, but the end result is so difficult and so painful.  Not only do I not want to go out and do that anymore, there’s a good chance I wouldn’t survive.  So my recovery is not just about whether I’m going to be a good boy or recover or not, it’s about whether I’m going to live or die. 

SW:  That seems like such an important mentality to get to.  I think that’s where we want all our brothers and sisters to get to.  Who knows how long it takes people to get there, but that door of realization has just opened for me:  the severity of my addictive thinking and my utter need for God’s healing.    

You also say something toward the end of that broadcast that resounds and applies to all our lives, especially those of us who’ve realized our desperate need for healing.  You talk about how your life is expanding and growing; then you explain what your experience was before knowing God’s deep love was yours. 
You said, “My life was always this desperate struggle to survive.  Because it wasn’t a life, it was just a death where my heart hadn’t stopped beating yet.” 

We thank David for his time and all the courageous ways he’s pursued his recovery and helped others as well.  That’s the kind of healing, vision, and excellence we hope for in each of our lives.  We want to end here with encouragement:  take your healing process as seriously as you would any regimen for survival.  David and his OI brothers look at this process as “radical life transformation”.  We hope you’ll schedule time every day to read recovery material or recommended books, a 12-step workbook, and even a daily devotional like Operation Integrity Daily.  May we all experience more integrity in our hearts and lives day by day.  Thanks for reading.  It was an honor to work up this month’s letter.

Millie Ann's Story

We humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

The LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the LORD holds them by the hand.
Psalm 37:23,24, NLT


“As you discover your faults and sins, make no effort in your own strength to overcome them. This is a waste of time! Rather, abandon yourself immediately to God. Only He is able to destroy in you all that displeases Him.”
- Jeanne Guyon, Intimacy with Christ

Millie Ann’s Story

It seems like I make the best discoveries when I am going through the toughest times. As a result of one particular issue that has repeatedly brought tough times to me, I’ve come to realize how God can help me to better deal with all of the difficulties that I suffer.

For years I had been working myself into a frenzy over my inability to handle my finances. Now I want you to know that I make a good income and I have always known that there is no good reason for me to run out of money. However, time after time I would overspend and have to borrow money to make ends meet. This happened numerous times and every time I would end up in great despair, feeling isolated and hopeless about ever overcoming my bad habits and problems related to money. I can’t count how many times I promised to do better and to change, but the harder I tried the worse things got for me. Each day I was feeling more inadequate. I seriously doubted my ability to manage my own life. I was becoming ever more desperate.

Then one day, when I was quietly considering my situation, I realized that I was dealing with a very serious character defect. I had never thought of my problem in this way before. I had always thought that I could solve this problem as long as I worked hard enough or smart enough. But when I started to think of my problem in terms of a character defect I realized that I could never solve this problem on my own. It was, at the very least, bigger than me. I knew that I had to turn myself over to God in a more profound and personal way, otherwise this character defect would continue to rule me, ultimately destroying my and my daughter’s future.

My sponsor from AA led to me Christ when I was about 6 months sober. While I had grown up attending church with my family, I had never known Christ as anything more than someone the priest talked about at Mass. The Christ I came to know by way of my sponsor was someone who had an interest in me and someone who I believed would want to be with me all of the time. Now, in turning over this most desperate problem that lived so deep within me, I felt like I wanted Christ to move into me in an ever deeper way in order to get rid of this deeply-rooted character defect. Later that same day I went into my bedroom and I got down on my knees beside my bed and prayed (pleading and begging was more like it) for Christ to take away this horribly defective part of my character. As I prayed I began to experience a very quiet sense of relief. Obviously nothing had changed in that moment except for maybe me. I knew that I did not have to bear this burden by myself anymore. I knew that God was going to be with me and He was going to help me. This made a world of difference.

Over the next few weeks I began to think a little differently about my problem. I began to see money differently too. I realized that I had always been afraid of the responsibility of money and I had always been scared of success. Not wanting to be scared anymore, I started to look around for someone who could help me learn to better manage my income and finances. Remembering that someone once told me that prayer without action is a waste of time, I enrolled in a credit counseling program that was free of charge. The people at this program helped me to develop a budget that was workable, one that did not put my back up to the wall. I made no promises to anyone, not even to myself. My only commitment was to continue to surrender my character defect and my fear to God and to act in accordance with the guidance given to me by my credit counselor. It took over two years but I finally got all of my credit cards paid off and I have begun saving money in the hopes of buying a home for me and my daughter.

My life is now marked by an increasing number of surrenders. Most are more subtle than the surrender I made over money. I have gained a greater appreciation for Christ and I believe more strongly than ever in His love and compassion for me. Life for me is far from perfect. I am, after all, a single mother who spent much of her life living wrongly and there are still consequences for my failures. But, right in the midst of the hardships of my life, I know that the power of God is always available to me as long as I ask Him for His help and I surrender my will to His.

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

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Reversing the Past


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


I'm single-minded in pursuit of you; don't let me miss the road signs you've posted. I've banked your promises in the vault of my heart so I won't sin myself bankrupt. Be blessed, GOD; train me in your ways of wise living. Psalm 119:10-12 The Message

“When our desire is focused on loving God and others, we will realize our deepest longings for life fulfilled." - An Anonymous Recovering Alcoholic

Reversing the Past

None of us will ever eliminate our character defects on our own, no matter how hard we try. While it is not possible for us to remove our character defects on our own, we can learn to change the way we think, the way we act and the way we live our lives. Letting go of character defects is never passive. Like everything else we do in recovery, character change requires action. Personal growth and change is a divine interaction between God’s grace and our choices. When we change our actions, we interrupt habitual patterns of thinking, believing and feeling. Motion changes emotion!

If we are willing to change, we will not make the same mistakes time after time. It takes some practice, but with a little commitment and a few failures (which we will want to share with another person), the changes to the way we think, the way we feel and the way we act will begin to come quite quickly. People from religious backgrounds call this repentance and that’s exactly what it is. Grassroots, down and dirty, rubber meets the road repentance. The simplest definition of repentance is to “change one’s mind.” It’s an about face. Turning and going in the other direction. Whatever you call it, it works.

Scripture offers an overwhelming abundance of practical insight and guidance for those of us who are looking for renewal and strength. There are some things that just cannot be said any better than the way Scripture has already said it.

“And so I insist – and God backs me up on this – that there be no going along with the crowd, the empty- headed, mindless crowd. They’ve refused for so long to deal with God that they’ve lost touch not only with God but with reality itself. They can’t think straight anymore. Feeling no pain, they let themselves go in sexual obsession, addicted to every sort of perversion. But that’s no life for you! You learned Christ! My assumption is that you have paid careful attention to him, been well instructed in the truth precisely as we have it in Jesus. Since then, we do not have the excuse of ignorance, everything – and I do mean everything – connected with that old way of life has to go. It’s rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life – a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you.” Ephesians 4:19 - 23 The Message

Any questions?

OUR JOURNEY HOME -
Insights and Inspirations for Christian Twelve Step Recovery
Copyright David Zailer, 2011
INFO@OPERATIONINTEGRITY.ORG

Monday, July 25, 2011

Light Shines Before Us

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

You can't whitewash your sins and get by with it; you find mercy by admitting and leaving them. A tenderhearted person lives a blessed life; a hardhearted person lives a hard life.
Proverbs 28:13 -14 The Message


“Honest men fear neither the light nor the dark.”
-Thomas Fuller, M.D.

Light Shines Before Us

Once we have been honest and real with another person we should take some time for personal reflection. Taking the time to reflect gives us the chance to look back over the spectrum of our recovery experience and absorb more deeply all that has been happening in our minds and in our hearts. We’ll want to thank God and our listener for the love and the acceptance they have given to us. We should also acknowledge ourselves for being courageous and determined in our recovery work. Reflecting back, we can begin to see that God has been there alongside of us all along. He was with us in the conversation that we had with our listener, and even before that. Now, we can begin to see that He’s been reaching out to us, even before our recovery began. For you see, God is always one step ahead of us. He is always there, waiting for us to show up, honestly sharing with Him the truths of who we really are.

The conversation that we had with our listener has been a real “first” for most of us. Now, having had this “first of its kind” experience, we can sit quietly, alone and at peace, experiencing our bodies, our minds and our hearts being comfortable and at rest with one another. The angst, the resentment and the ongoing distrust that we have felt for ourselves and others can now begin to slip into the past. We can sense a new kind of feeling. We can feel that the world that we live in is a good world and that we are a valuable part of the goodness that God makes. Thank God for our Step Five experience. Let’s continually ask Him to help us grow in honesty. Let’s ask Him to help us to let go of the remaining burdens that we place on ourselves and others.

Journaling what we have discovered is important so that we don’t forget the past. We are more likely to end up where we don’t want to be if we forget where we’ve already been. Also, sharing our experience with those in our recovery fellowship helps us to keep moving forward, too. With this kind of progress we will sense a new kind of confidence deep inside of us. We won’t be alone anymore. We have seen a glimpse of God’s accepting love and we have experienced the joy of having someone else know our secrets and not turn away. Knowing that we are accepted by God and another person helps us to change. We can accept ourselves, failures and all. Redemption has begun. To the degree that we recognize and accept the value that God has for us, we will recognize, accept and value ourselves, too.

We can see that our future will be different from the past. While still capable of addictive self-destruction we know that the downward spirals that we have known before are no longer inevitable. We can live large, in a world of imperfect but wonderful people who, when honest with God and others, make themselves available to be loved by a strength and a power that is capable of giving life amid all hardship and sorrow. Sharing is caring. We become living miracles in the lives of others when we share, honestly.

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

Friday, July 22, 2011

All Things Good

We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

The time is coming when everything will be revealed; all that is secret will be made public. Luke 12:2 NLT

“To state the facts frankly is not to despair for the future nor indict the past.” --John F. Kennedy


All Things Good

Jesus Christ is the definitive break in what has previously been an unbreakable cycle of human effort, human trial and human failure; a cycle that has been repeated in every human life throughout history. But no more. Through Christ, God changes all the rules. In Christ, the new rule is human trial, human failure and redemption for every man and woman who trusts in the redemptive love of God. It’s very simple, really. God, through Christ, has done for us what we could never do for ourselves. So, we no longer need to be concerned with getting ourselves right with God. We need only concern ourselves with honestly addressing the reality of our addictions and our sins. For this reason, it is vitally important that we understand our shortcomings with as much clarity as possible. Because, we can accept God’s love only to the degree that we accept our personal shortcomings. God will do for us what we cannot do for ourselves, but He will not do for us what only we can do for ourselves.

Looking back over our lives, we will inevitably see that we have made some bad choices along the way. Seeing things from an objective point of view, we can see that the choices that we made, even the bad ones, usually made sense to us at the time that we made them. Being objective in this way, we can give ourselves compassion and understanding which will help us to move forward and live our lives with more freedom. We don’t need to judge ourselves anymore. Judgment is God’s job, after all, not ours. For our part, we just let the facts be what they are. God makes perfectly enlightened judgments about the things we do and why we do them. For you see, God does not judge us solely on what we do. He does not define us by our actions alone. He defines us by the love that He has for us. He knows that we don’t know all that we need to know. He knows that we are not always in control of ourselves. He knows that we are instinctively fearful and self-centered and that sometimes we do bad things with good intentions and that other times we do things that look good on the outside but are done with selfish motives. Knowing all things, and with His perfect judgment, God does not define us in terms of good versus bad. Having created us as very complex creatures, God is fully aware, as proven through Christ’s compassion, that we live conflicted lives in a conflicted world. From God’s point of view, we are defined by the simple reality of His revolutionary love for lost and addicted sinners like us.

Because of Christ, it is no longer necessary for us to avoid or escape the pain that we experience in life. In Christ, we can find a good purpose in everything. In faith, we believe that He makes all things good. And because there is no limitation to the meaning of “all,” we can accept every pain and difficulty as an opportunity for goodness. Pain can be a great teacher and a wonderful motivator. Pain compels us forward, motivating us to reach out. It’s as if our past problems, fears, pains and sins become monuments along the road of our journey. They become memorable points of progress that help us, and others too, to journey deeper into the empowering love of God.

We want to be as thorough as we can possibly be and, at the same time, we want to recognize that our faith is in God and not in our own efforts. When we feel anger, we write about it. When we sense fear, we write about it. When we feel resentment, we write it down. We write everything down so that we can talk it over face to face with God, and man to man with another person, too. We don’t need to be perfect, but we do want to do the best that we can. As we get a better grasp about how we feel, we will get a better grasp of who we are and how we have harmed ourselves and others. Then, we become evermore ready to change. We become ready to live in this world in a new and better way.

Write down all that you think needs to be written down.

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

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Getting Intimate With God

We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.

As he went out into the street, a man came running up, greeted him with great reverence, and asked, "Good Teacher, what must I do to get eternal life?" Jesus said, "Why are you calling me good? No one is good, only God. You know the commandments: Don't murder, don't commit adultery, don't steal, don't lie, don't cheat, honor your father and mother." He said, "Teacher, I have—from my youth—kept them all!" Jesus looked him hard in the eye—and loved him! He said, "There's one thing left: Go sell whatever you own and give it to the poor. All your wealth will then be heavenly wealth. And come follow me." The man's face clouded over. This was the last thing he expected to hear, and he walked off with a heavy heart. He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and not about to let go. Mark 10:17-22 The Message

“A saint is not someone who is good but someone who experiences the goodness of God.” -Thomas Merton

Getting Intimate with God

Scripture is full of people who can help us become more intimate with God. But it’s not always because they had such a good relationship with God themselves. One such person is the man we read about in Mark 10. Let’s call him Don. From what the Bible says, we know that Don rushes around in a big hurry, with all kinds of drama, all in an effort to do what he thinks he needs to do so that he can live forever. Sounds like some of us, doesn’t it?

From what we read we know that Don was intensely committed to his religious practice, rituals he had kept since childhood. Speculating a little, Don was probably the kind of guy who attended church without fail. We can almost see him, tall and well put together. We can bet that Don took really good care of his appearance, presenting himself to the world with great care and consideration. He knew he was doing good and it was important to him to impress others with just how good he was. He probably drove a nice car and, secretly of course, he was proud that he kept his car looking and running better than anyone else in his neighborhood. For sure, Don was well respected at church and at home. This made him feel important. Being the man that he was, Don was obsessed with learning all that he needed to know in order to get rid of anything that limited the life that he loved so much. It seems like Don thought of Jesus as little more than a means to an end. Because Don was committed to getting everything that he thought was important, he inadvertently treated Jesus as if Jesus was just an object that was there to give Don what he thought he needed. Don was in control, or so he thought. In the most subtle of ways, Don was playing God. This is what we do when try to use God to get our way. It happens even with our best intentions. None of us means to objectify God but we do, at least to some degree. It’s really not a question of if we have, but how often have we.

Jesus gives Don an amazing comeback. He didn’t directly confront Don’s religiosity and pride. He just suggested that Don should keep doing more of what he was already doing. Then, being such a hard worker and all, Don was apparently overcome with a deep, deep sadness. After all, since childhood he had been working harder and harder to get a better life and it obviously hadn’t been working for him. If it had, he wouldn’t have been so desperate for something more. So, deep in his gut, he knew it wasn’t going to work now. Do you know this feeling?

Here the story could have taken a great turn, but it didn’t. Jesus continued to respond to Don by challenging his attachments. (Don probably had some addictions mixed in there, too.) While challenging Don to detach and free himself from the things that he held so dear, Jesus extended an invitation to enter into the intimacy of living with Jesus on a day-to-day basis just like the rest of Jesus’ followers did. Sadly, Don could not make this decision. He could not find it within himself to let go of the old life of religion and take hold of this new life of relationship.
We need to be careful not to speculate too much because we can’t read Don’s mind. We can only know for sure what Scripture tells us. Perhaps Don just didn’t believe what Jesus was saying. Perhaps he couldn’t fathom the idea that gaining eternal life did not depend on him alone. Or, perhaps Don just didn’t really want what Jesus had to offer. Don seemed determined to think that his religious discipline and control would be enough to get himself right with God forever. He chose pride over life.

Don’s story will only benefit us if we are willing to learn from it. Sometimes we learn the most in observing the failures of others. It is important for us to relate ourselves to Don and his encounter with Christ, failures and all. For you see, Jesus is about more than just overcoming an addiction. He is about more than just going to heaven when we die. Any reason and all reasons are good reasons to come to Christ, but the only way we will continuously bring life to our sinful existence is to seek intimacy with Christ for the sake of God himself. Any other reason becomes sin sooner or later. Jesus is more than a religious icon. Jesus is how God identifies himself to us in a personal way. In Jesus, God shows himself as the perfect human so that all of us imperfect humans can enjoy a perfected relationship with God. It’s simple really. As we make the decision to surrender our will and our life to Jesus we get close, we get real and we get intimate with God. It’s a love story, not a religious story. God looks deep into us and no matter of what he sees, He loves us just like Jesus loved Don. What Jesus did for Don, God is doing for us. He challenges us. He calls us. He invites us to let go of the things which have been holding us back, most notably our religious attempts to prove ourselves worthy. God frees us from the demand that we get our act together. He knows that even if we did ever get our act together, all that we would ever have would be an act.

Christ, is here to give us His life if we are willing to let go of the lifelessness that we have known up to now.

He has done his part now. Let us do ours.

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

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

It's A God Thing

We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

I will love You, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised; So shall I be saved from my enemies. Psalm 18:1-3

“The strength of a man consists in finding out the way in which God is going, and going in that way too.” -Henry Ward Beecher

It’s a God Thing

Medical doctors call addiction a disease because it embeds itself into our bodies physiologically, creating dependencies that have definitive symptoms. Psychologists will often refer to addiction as “attachment” because in addiction we become “attached” to things in ways that are destructive to us. Religious teachers often call addiction idolatry and sin because of the way that addictions skew our personal priorities. Because addiction can be seen from differing points of view it is important for us to understand that each viewpoint has merit because addiction affects the whole person. That is, physically, mentally and emotionally and spiritually. Addictions hook our bodies by creating bio-chemical dependencies in our brains. It takes hold of our lives by creating attachments to people, places and things that we addictively think are necessary for us when they really are not. And, our addictions keep us from having a meaningful connection with God because we value the things we are addicted to more than we value God. Whichever viewpoint is considered, the result of addiction is the same. Lives erode and people die in one way or another.

It has been said that addiction is the most human of all diseases. After all, addiction has been around since man has been around and in one way or another we are all addicted to something. In the past, addiction has affected us physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. But we don’t need to stay addicted any longer. When we become willing to seek a spiritual solution to our addictions, we will begin to find solutions for the physical, mental and emotional problems as well. The willingness to look for a new kind of spiritual solution is a kind of grace. We say it’s grace because as we admit that we need help and in coming to believe that we can be restored to sanity, the downward spiral of our addiction has been interrupted. This is something that we could not do on our own.

Furthermore, it is grace that we have the opportunity to take steps that will help heal us. This is a decisive dignity that we had once lost to our addictions. Somehow, in grace that is at the precise point where our hopeless desperations collided with the hopeful desire to find sanity for our lives we’ll find a decisiveness that we didn’t have before. Because the pain of staying the same was more than the pain of changing, we decided, without even realizing it, which is grace, to reach out and grab onto what we’ve come to believe will restore sanity to our lives. Seeking to recover from our addictions, through the power of grace, we seek the Kingdom of God which means to simply make God the King of our lives. For you see, The Kingdom of God is nothing more than the place where God is King.

Remember our friend David from Psalms 38:3-8? Some believe that David had serious problems with addiction. We don’t know for sure but it’s possible that David may have been addicted to sex. Considering how he pursued a sexual relationship with Bathsheba, who was a married woman, and how he orchestrated the circumstances where her husband would be killed in order to hide his sexual impropriety, there is evidence to the real possibility that David was addicted to sex. Most poignant of all is that he seemed to be in deep denial of the consequences of his actions. David, like any addict, was blind to see how his actions where hurting others.

To David’s credit, when his wrongs came into the light, he did not waste a lot of time arguing. He not only realized how wrong his actions were but he also realized that he had unwittingly become, in his addictions that is, his own worst enemy. This helps to explain how David, as he wrote in the Psalms, “I'm on my last legs; I've had it - my life is a vomit of groans,” had found himself at a decisive crossroads. He realized, as we have, that his life was unmanageable and he needed to change in order for his life to change. David was, as we are, at the crossroads of faith and decision. The ultimate question for David, as it is for us as well, is what will the future be like. David, in Psalms 18:1-3 tells us how he expressed his willingness to reach out and connect with a Power that would make a difference in his life.

Our friend David would not allow his addiction to define his entire life, though there was no escaping the consequences of his past. He decisively committed in his heart and mind to seek out a relationship with God. In so doing, David began to find a new and healthy identity for himself. Ultimately, David came to be known as a man after God’s own heart, even in spite of his addictions. The same can happen to us. As we come to believe that we can be restored to sanity, we gain the opportunity to discover and live out a whole new identity. It’s an identity and life that is a perfectly scripted plan for our lives by the design of a loving and caring God. The possibility to live this miracle is here so the only question for us is, will we be willing to live it out?

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

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Help Is Available

We admitted we were powerless over our addiction, that our life had become unmanageable.


He will rescue the poor when they cry to him; he will help the oppressed, who have no one to defend them. He feels pity for the weak and the needy, and he will rescue them.
Psalm 72: 12-13 New Living Translation

“People see God ever day. They just don’t recognize him.”
-Pearl Bailey

Help is Available

Those of us with addictions tend to be great actors. We attempt to keep our outsides looking really good so that no one would suspect that we’re all messed up on the inside. Sadly, nothing could be further from the truth because in the final analysis, our secrets and addictions prove that we’ve been little more than pretenders. Mostly, we’ve been going through life acting like we are in control and that our problems happen because other people are not behaving as they should. We’ve generally had an attitude like we’ve got it all together and if the rest of the world would just cooperate with us then everything would be okay. Do you recognize the thinking here? We fake it. We pretend. We go through life with a head full of fanciful thinking. We are selfish.

Inadvertently, we have made ourselves to be our own god. We have worshiped our own lives, our own agendas, our own priorities and our own values. In short, we have valued ourselves above all else. And many of us have actually done this covertly by hiding ourselves in religion. Whatever we call it, the result has been the same; addiction. So, we find ourselves in a tough spot. We have to make a change in our thinking and in our attitude because the old ways just don’t work anymore.

Recovery from addictions will only come to those of us who can acknowledge and admit that we cannot manage our own lives. As long as we are too proud to admit our weaknesses we will never be able to change them. If we are going to live and recover we will have to find a belief and a faith in something that will work for us because what we’ve had up to this point hasn’t been working. Has it? We need to have help from a Power that is greater than we are. A Power that can heal us where we could not heal ourselves, from the inside out. In light of the destruction that addiction has brought on to us, we must know that we’ll be better off cooperating with this Higher Power instead of trying to overcome it or deny it.

While it is true that we will need help from other people along the way, our failures to heal ourselves prove that we must learn that only God will be the ultimate solution for our problems. Sometimes, as we ask for help we must make the simple and difficult admission of our fearfulness, as well as our powerlessness. On the one hand we fear God and his unpredictability and on the other hand we fear our addictions and their certainty.

Our problems have not really been our addictions, or even the painful circumstances of our unmanageable lives. We, our own self-centeredness that is, is really our major problem. Only God, who often works through people, can solve the “you” and “me” problem and give to us the liberation we’ve been created to experience. As we put our hope in God we find that our past humiliations become humility for today. As we hope and trust in The Higher Power, God can make the tragedy and weakness of addiction into a joy that positively empowers everything we think and feel and do with our lives. As faith in God becomes real for us we find that our addictions and our lives become helpful and encouraging to others as well. After all, everyone is addicted in one way or another.

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

Monday, July 18, 2011

Steve Shares His Life

Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry the message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you're living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy.
I Peter 3:15, The Message


“True ambition is the deep desire to live usefully and walk humbly under the grace of God.”
- Alcoholics Anonymous, page 125, The Twelve and Twelve

Steve Shares His Life

My family has owned a lumber business for over 80 years. My grandfather started it and my father and his two brothers continued to grow it. Even in childhood, I knew that my dad and mom planned for me to go to college first and then come back and work in the family business.

I was very active in high school, lettering in baseball and football, and I always kept my grades up too. And I did more than my fair share of partying at the same time. My friends and I used to throw really big parties out in the woods and fields around the area, where we would drink beer and smoke marijuana. Actually, I only smoked pot at the time because my granddad and my two uncles had had drinking problems. I never saw my dad drink. He told me that he had a drinking problem at one time, so he stopped. I decided pot would be safer because I didn’t want to become an alcoholic like my uncles.

My wife, Mattie, and I met when we were seniors in high school. For me it was lust at first sight. She was smart and beautiful, popular and determined to go to college. Almost immediately we became boyfriend and girlfriend. We were inseparable. Our plan was to get into and out of college as quick as we could, and then get married and start a family. But, something unexpected happened. Mattie called me one afternoon to tell me she was pregnant. She and I were sexual on several occasions, always practicing what we thought was “safe sex.” We used a condom each time we had intercourse, but the condom did not prevent her from getting pregnant. Needless to say, our plans for the future changed.

We married the summer after graduation. I went to work driving a truck for the family business, Mattie gave birth to our daughter and we settled into a pretty good life. I worked long hours and made good use of the accelerated opportunities I had in a well-established family business. Our daughter was healthy and joyful, Mattie worked hard to be a great mom, and she attended the local community college part-time as well. I continued to smoke marijuana after work and in the evenings. It took the edge off the day and relaxed me. Mattie had immediately stopped all of her partying when she learned she was pregnant. I think she assumed that I would give pot up too, but she never gave me too much grief about it. Still, I knew she wanted me to stop.

Our daughter was about four, when I got pulled over by the highway patrol as I was driving home after work. I was a sales rep for the business by then, and I would smoke a bowl or two of pot several times a day to relax and chill out. I had marijuana in the car and I had smoked some just a few minutes before getting pulled over. Well, you can guess what happened. I was arrested for driving under the influence and for misdemeanor possession of marijuana, and I was sentenced to a drug education and diversion program. The program required that I give regular urine tests to verify that I was no longer smoking marijuana. I wasn’t happy about this but I wanted to be a good father, a good husband and a good citizen. So, I gave up pot and soon realized that a few beers in the evening or at lunch did a pretty darn good job of replacing pot. I never smoked marijuana again, but I did pick up a pretty strong habit of relying on alcohol to influence the way I felt. It was not too long before alcohol began to cause problems for me.

Mattie and I had a second child, a boy. When he was about two-and-a-half, I realized that I had gone down the wrong road and become something that I never wanted to be. My two uncles still worked in the family business alongside my dad and me. In fact, as I had matured, I had become the spitting image of one of my uncles. We were the same size and shape, we talked alike and we had the same sense of humor. We also drank the same beer and went through each and every day being just a little drunk. Not too much, but just a little. When I was growing up, I had always felt a sense of loathing towards my uncles because of their drinking. I certainly loved them because they were good-hearted and reliable men, but their drinking made them obnoxious at times and it certainly was not what I wanted to become.

I was shocked the day I realized I had become like my uncle who had the habits I didn’t like. I caught a glimpse of him and me in a mirror that day as we were leaving a restaurant. I was shocked to see how much I was like him. Both of us had drinks with our lunch that day, and having seen how much alike we looked in the mirror’s reflection, I knew then and there that I had become the alcoholic that I never wanted to become. Instead of returning to work, I went home and told Mattie what happened. She could tell I was in a panicked state. I had been drinking for years by then, and alcohol had become more important to me than I knew. And, at the same time, I was desperately afraid that all of my good intentions and dreams for my family had been damaged beyond repair.

Now Mattie had been going to church ever since our daughter was born. In fact, she and my mom had been attending church together. Mattie suggested that I call a pastor she knew from there. Apparently this guy had some experience in helping people with problems like mine. That evening I found myself sitting in his office, where we chatted. He was very relaxed and confident. He seemed to understand the dire pain and concern I felt, but at the same time he didn’t share my panic. He explained to me how addiction is a disease and that my addiction probably didn’t start with alcohol, it probably started with the pot that I was smoking back in high school. He suggested that I get some professional help. Two days later I entered into a twenty-eight day detox and treatment program. This program had me going to AA meetings and I was surprised at how normal the AA people seemed to be. Actually, the people at the meetings were pretty cool.

Near the end of my twenty-eight days at the treatment center, I was visited by the same pastor from Mattie’s church. He told me about Jesus in a way that was different than how I had heard about Him before. The pastor told me how Jesus makes it possible for me to enjoy a relationship with God, and that a relationship with God was more of a personal interaction, not a religious endeavor. In fact, he said that I didn’t have to get religious at all; all I had to do was just be honest and open with God, and Jesus would take care of the rest. I guess I should confess by this time I was intrigued about God because of the great way the people from AA and from Mattie’s church would talk about Him. It was like He was their friend and helper, not like the big head-busting punisher I thought Him to be. I was thirty-seven days sober when I prayed to God, thanking Him for Jesus and asking Him to live with me and in me.

I completed the treatment program but I have never completed AA. I still go to meetings. I attend church with Mattie and I’ve gotten involved in the Restoration program for recovering people like me. On Tuesday evenings I set up chairs, make coffee, shake hands and help with the Twelve Step groups. I’ve been doing this for quite some time now, and I’ve grown to love the addicted people who come to visit us. There are several treatment centers around the area who bring their clients to visit us. I can’t wait to get there on Tuesdays to see them. I know the pain they feel. I know what it is like to have my ego crushed. When they cry, I cry too. I never promise them that their life will be easy or that it will be the way they want it to be. I just tell them about Jesus. I tell them that God does not hold their sins against them, and that His full love and forgiveness is theirs to have if they will just believe it, ask for it and act on it.

I am turning gray now. My daughter is in college and my son is heading that way. Almost every day I look back and fondly remember the day that I went into treatment. Even then, I sensed that my life was not going to be the same again. I was afraid and yet I was ready, too. I wanted to escape the addictions that had plagued my family and me. But, I never expected what I got. In sharing what God has done for me through AA, recovery and, above all, through Jesus, my life is complete.

As I examine myself further, I want to confess that I have often had the silly belief that I was “the king” of my own world. I don’t really know how to explain it anymore than that. Maybe it was because I grew up kind of spoiled, but I always thought that I should be immune to suffering, and that if I felt emotional or physical discomfort in any way, I was being treated unfairly. I bet this is why I learned to prefer being disconnected from life through pot and alcohol instead of facing life head-on. And, I think this is why I spent so much of my life flirting with women in very subtle ways. I never cheated on Mattie and I was never into porn or anything like that. I just had an insatiable need for attention and affirmation, which I would get by being charming to women. Having recognized this, I have admitted it to several of my recovery partners and I am working my Twelve Step program and going to meetings to help me deal with what I now know about myself.

In brief, this is how I see my life. I know that I was born into privilege and that I did not have the wherewithal to appreciate it. I have been loved all along, by my family, by my wife and by my children. Most of all and best of all, I have come to know that God has always loved me and that He has and will always love the whole world too. No one needs to be left out. I know, from my own experience, that God loves people who have addictions. And, on top of it all, I believe that those of us who have addictions and who are in recovery are well suited to take in and give out God’s love to all of those around us.

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

Friday, July 15, 2011

Priority

Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for the knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don't try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God's voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he's the one who will keep you on track. Proverbs 3:5-6, The Message

“We take our efforts seriously, while knowing that serious results are from God. We remain intent and dogged in pursuit of our disciplines, in the working of the steps, but dismiss at all times the notion that our work is enough. It never is. Our miracles come from God, and He offers them in conjunction with our work.” _ Oswald Chambers


Priority

Self-centeredness is cunning, it is baffling and it is powerful. We slip into it often without knowing it. And nothing will kill our recovery faster than when self-centeredness hides hidden in our religious activity. Our commitments to pray and meditate will not make us immune. We will trip up sometimes because we lost sight of the fact that we are not the one who brings good gifts to us. Good gifts come from God alone. We must remember that our best intentions and efforts got us addicted.

So, we must never rely on our efforts alone, no matter how good or well-intentioned they are. It is God who makes the difference in our lives. Yes, we are responsible for being disciplined and intentional in our responsibilities because we will not, after all, grow spiritually if we do not apply ourselves. But, discipline and hard work are never enough to overcome our addictions or conquer the self-centeredness that lurks within us.

All of the growth we’ve had so far has come from God, and the growth we experience in the future will come from Him too. Carving this simple principle onto our hearts and minds will keep us motivated to keep up with our spiritual disciplines. It will keep us moving along the path of God’s spiritual care.

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

Thursday, July 14, 2011

What God Gives

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

One day one of the local officials asked him, "Good Teacher, what must I do to deserve eternal life?" Jesus said, "Why are you calling me good? No one is good—only God. You know the commandments, don't you? No illicit sex, no killing, no stealing, no lying, honor your father and mother." He said, "I've kept them all for as long as I can remember." When Jesus heard that, he said, "Then there's only one thing left to do: Sell everything you own and give it away to the poor. You will have riches in heaven. Then come, follow me." This was the last thing the official expected to hear. He was very rich and became terribly sad. He was holding on tight to a lot of things and not about to let them go. Seeing his reaction, Jesus said, "Do you have any idea how difficult it is for people who have it all to enter God's kingdom? I'd say it's easier to thread a camel through a needle's eye than get a rich person into God's kingdom." “Then who has any chance at all?" the others asked. "No chance at all," Jesus said, "if you think you can pull it off by yourself. Every chance in the world if you trust God to do it. Luke 18:18-28, The Message

Grace fills empty spaces, but it can only enter where there is a void to receive it, and it is grace itself which makes this void. - Simone Weil

What God Gives

Luke 18 tells the story of a successful man and it shows us why he is a good example of how we can hinder our own growth. The man in the story enthusiastically came to Jesus seeking to increase his quality of life, but he walked away devastated with sadness and sorrow. Apparently, this man’s life included wealth, talent, social standing and religious excellence. But this wasn’t enough for him. He wanted more. Can you relate?

This man had confused personal success and having the good things in life with a satisfying life. Knowing this and knowing that having a good life alone will never satisfy anyone, Jesus did not give the man what he wanted. Instead, Jesus challenged the man’s virtue by questioning his lustful desire for more material, social and religious goodness which the man called “eternal life.” Scripture tells us how the man had no effective response to Jesus’ challenge because he wanted what he wanted more than what Jesus had to give. Let no one be confused here. The man had all the information that he needed to know. He had every opportunity to make the right choice. He was fully responsible for making the decision for his life and he was fully responsible for his own sadness. This is because his sadness was not a result of Jesus’ challenge; it was the result of his own inability to let go of the things he valued so much. It was not things that were his problem; it was his attachment to things that kept him stuck where he was. The man’s problem would have been easily solved if he had just been willing to let go and follow Jesus.

How many times have we been in a similar situation? How many times have we sensed that God wanted us to fess up and admit that we were holding on to well-polished idols? Perhaps God is pointing out certain things like personal qualities, talents, desires, interests, reliances or relationships that show that we are not as close to God as we would like others to believe. The message for all of us is clear. Jesus is calling us to let go of the things that we think we need or things we think we are entitled to. But, it’s more than that. The calling Jesus makes is not really about things at all; it is about the letting go. It is about our priorities, our relationships with things and our willingness to let go of things so that we can be free to be filled with the better things that God has for us.
“Sell all that you have and follow me.”

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