Monday, October 31, 2011

The Fundamentals of Forgiveness

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

Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven. Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.
Luke 6:37-38, NLT

“Forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.”
- Anonymous

“For my part, I believe in the forgiveness of sin and the redemption of ignorance.”
- Adlai Stevenson

The Fundamentals of Forgiveness

One of the great miracles that we will experience in our 12 Step recovery process is how God will meet us more than halfway. Throughout Scripture we are told that even our smallest commitments and efforts will be met and rewarded with a return that far exceeds what we have invested. What God gives us in our recovery efforts should really be considered more like a gift, because it is not based on the magnitude of our efforts, but more on the sincerity of our hearts that is expressed through our efforts. We can be assured that even our greatest failures will be turned into good things if we have done them with a sincere heart that seeks to know God and the love that He gives.

One of the ways that God turns our failures into something good is by helping us, when we are willing, to let go of the anger and resentment that we have had. To the degree that we are willing to forgive those who have hurt us, we will be able to receive the forgiveness that God gives, especially the forgiveness that other people have to give us. For you see, healing damaged relationships – forgiveness - is a two way street. We have to be willing to give forgiveness before we can be ready to receive forgiveness. Forgiving and being forgiven is the fundamental footing that must be in place before we can build a life that is relationally solid. As we already know, we can’t build a forgiven life by ourselves. We will have to have help. We will need help from our sponsors and our counselors because every situation will be different. Even as we grow, we will have blind spots in our thinking. We need an enlarging point of view in order to take the best course of action, and our sponsors and counselors will help us to gain this much needed increase in perspective.

There is no doubt that some of the people we need to make amends to have been guilty of hurting us, too. Once again, these are situations where we should consult with our sponsors and our counselors in order to know the best way to proceed. One thing we know for sure is that in each and every case we are called to forgive. Forgiveness is the ultimate of God’s command. It is the ultimate obedience, too. When we forgive others, we become willing to let them “off the hook” at the emotional and psychological level. God commands us to forgive so that we can live better, ourselves. Forgiveness is an act of love, not only for others but most of all for ourselves. The people who have hurt us will hold us hostage forever as long as we are unwilling to let go of our anger and resentment. For some of us there have been circumstances where someone hurt us with a criminal act. In such cases we should refer to our advisors. Most certainly we must be willing to alert law enforcement to what we know. We do this in order to put a stop to the damage that was done to us and, more importantly, to take responsible actions that will help protect others in the future. While it is a good thing to see a dangerous person held accountable for his crimes, this does not excuse us from the necessity of forgiving the offender at a personal and spiritual level. Forgiving someone for hurting us does not mean that we excuse their bad behavior, either.

Who do we need to forgive and why?

Our Journey Home By David Zailer
copyright 2011, Homecoming Books

Friday, October 28, 2011

Facing The Facts

Facing the Facts

“Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”
            I Peter 5:6-7

“For just so long as we were convinced that we could live exclusively by our own individual strength and intelligence, for just that long was a working faith in a Higher Power impossible. This was true even when we believed God existed. We could actually have earnest religious beliefs which remained barren because we were still trying to play God ourselves. As long as we placed self-reliance first, a genuine reliance upon a Higher Power was out of the question. That basic ingredient of all humility, a desire to seek and do God’s will was missing.”
            - Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous    

We humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

For most of us, our first encounter with real humility was when we admitted that we had an addiction that was more powerful than we were. We have grown in humility as we have worked through our Step Four personal inventory. This kind of recovery work makes it possible for us to humbly ‘own’ the truth about ourselves. When we see and accept the real facts about our choices and our lives, we will be less inclined to rationalize our improper actions, minimize our difficulties or ignore the pain that other people have suffered because of our character defects. Knowing the real facts about ourselves helps us to see our own limitations and to accept the blunt truth of our needs and shortcomings. We are not all-powerful. We don’t control ourselves all of the time, and we do not control other people any of the time. Humility helps us to accept these facts, giving us eyes through which we’ll see God change who we are, the way we think, the way we handle our emotions and the way we live our lives. 
The growth and maturity we experience is one of the gifts of humility that God will give to us as we responsibly admit and correct our character defects. It looks like this. When we notice a character defect expressed through our thoughts and actions, we make the choice to reverse our thinking and our actions. When we do so, our character defects will begin to lose some of their power. Every time we say ‘no’ to them, the grip they’ve habitually had on us loosens. Nothing is so helpful to curing addictions and healing character defects as to stop doing the addiction and admit the character defects that have been a part of our addictive thinking. An amazing empowerment from God comes with obedience.
As we progress in our recovery, our priorities and concerns will get reorganized. With a measure much greater than our obedience, we will be given the humility to desire obedience more than blessing, character more than comfort—all so that we may help and not hinder the work of God. The greatest blessing for any of us is to live free from our addiction and be fully aligned with the will of a loving God. Even before we ask, God is giving us all that we have ever needed. He is always one step ahead of us!
Copyright 2011, David Zailer

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Ready and Listening

Ready and Listening

"The people I love, I call to account--prod and correct and guide so that they'll live at their best. Up on your feet, then! About face! Run after God! Look at me. I stand at the door. I knock. If you hear me call and open the door, I'll come right in and sit down to supper with you."
            Revelation 3:19-20 The Message

“The teacher is heard when the student is ready to listen.”
            - Ancient Chinese Proverb

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

We so often miss out on the deep moving of God’s Spirit because we are not available. Most of us live in a fog spiritually. God knocks and either we are not at home or we are too lazy or distracted to get up out of our easy chair to see who is at the door. God speaks to us—and all of mankind—through Scripture. The message of Scripture is meant to be assimilated as a love letter, one person at a time, yet we so often think of it as just history, teaching or principle. Scripture is certainly all that, but it is so much more. God’s Scripture is a calling of love and redemption. It is the ancient record of God communicating to us, individually and collectively, as people. Scripture is a love letter. It is a timeless record of how God wants to connect with us and draw us close. God has been speaking to us so very often and for so long, yet most of the time we have not responded.
Being ready to change means that we will want to be, first and foremost, in a love-fulfilling relationship with God. To some degree we are completely aware of how far away we are from this ideal. We tend to get so caught up in telling God where we want to go with our lives that we make ourselves blind and oblivious to the idolatrous ways that we try to sculpt and mold our own souls. If we stand around waiting for God to dump some sort of monumental task and duty on us, we will miss the powerfully subtle opportunities for change and transformation that God has already set before us. Those whose ears are not tuned to hear the quiet voice of God do not change. If we want to hear, we have to be willing to listen. The man or woman who strains to hear the quiet and sometimes seemingly distant call of love and change is the one who gains the great prize of a transformed life experience. Rarely does it occur to us that what God really wants us to do is to live out His transforming power in all the most mundane ways. It is critically important that we give up every form of grandiosity and recognize that God’s greatest work has to do with how we live our daily lives. He is more concerned with transforming us in the ways we interact with our families, run our errands, conduct our careers and live in our neighborhoods than He is in some sort of dramatic conquest. In real life, the greatest conquests are experienced in 24-hour segments right in the center of our routine everyday life.
The bottom line of true character transformation is understanding that God redeems people, not things. Then, as people experience God’s transforming redemption, His redemption is reflected in all areas of that person’s life. Becoming ready for God to change us means that we don’t have to get ready. We just have to be willing to be ready. We stay alert, listening for our Master Redeemer’s call. Changing us is God’s job. Our job is to simply be ready and willing to change.
The scriptural record of Moses’ life is a picture of a person who was made ready to change, even though he was seemingly unaware of the preparation that God had made in his life. The burning bush was God’s way of reaching out and capturing the willingness that Moses had in his heart—a willingness that he was previously incapable of acting on in healthy and productive ways. Scripture tells of how Moses had apparently lost all confidence in himself, and of how God used the humbling circumstances and consequences of Moses’ life to make him ready and willing to hear what God had to say. Moses’ willing, albeit hesitant response to God’s call is definitive proof that he was ready for whatever God had for him.
Copyright 2011, David Zailer

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Jerry Gets Honest With Himself

Jerry Gets Honest with Himself

“You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are – no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.”
            Matthew 5:5 The Message

“The heart is the deepest essence of a person. It symbolizes what’s at our core. The heart of the matter is that we can know and be known only through revealing what’s in our heart.”
            -Brennan Manning

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

Hello, my name is Jerry and I am an alcoholic. I was 51 years old when I first said these words and I’ve been saying them almost every day for the past three-and-a-half years. I started drinking when I was in college. Getting drunk with my fraternity brothers was a lot of fun. Unfortunately, unlike most of my friends, I never stopped. Near the end of my drinking, I was actually drinking less often. Not because I wanted to drink any less but because I knew in my heart of hearts that my drinking was hurting my family and me. I never meant to hurt anyone.
I had gotten married at 25, and by 31 I had three beautiful daughters, a solid marriage (it looked like it on the outside), a great career and I was a leader in my church. While near the end of my drinking I was consuming less alcohol, the people around me were complaining about it more and more. They were pointing out problems that were happening because of my drinking. Even though I was drinking less, my drinking was affecting me more. Finally, the employee assistance director at work confronted me. He gave me the choice of going to a treatment program for alcoholism that the company would pay for, or the company would demote me to a less prestigious position. My ego refused the demotion so I chose rehab.
In rehab I was confronted by my wife and daughters about how my drinking and my attitude had been hurting them for years. I was dumbfounded. I had no idea how they felt. Also, the doctor at the rehab told me that I had suffered liver damage, and that I had what they called “level two alcoholism.” I wasn’t sure what that meant but it sure got my attention. I wasn’t able to sleep and my body shook for days. I was nervous and uncomfortable for three weeks after my last drink. Worst of all, as my head cleared, I became more and more ashamed of how I had let the years slip by and how I had hurt my wife and daughters. I knew that I had always loved them, but I could not escape the reality of how I had held them hostage for so long. Being given the opportunity to recover, I knew that this is what I wanted to do. I wanted to change.
I started to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings while in rehab and I have never stopped. I go to an average of two to three meetings per week, depending on my schedule and my disposition. I got a sponsor and I began working the steps on a personal basis. I spent about a month working through my Step Four inventory. I worked on it every day. Finally I sat down with my sponsor and read much of what I had written down to him. I also told him a lot of things that came to mind as we were sitting there talking.
While doing Step Four, I learned a lot about myself. In a nutshell, I learned that my alcoholism was only a disease and not my real problem. My real problem was me, and I would continue to be my own worst problem until I admitted this to myself, just like I had to admit to myself that I was an alcoholic. If I were to ever become a better person, free from alcoholism and selfishness, I had to admit just how selfish I had been. Being intentional and committed to self-honesty was the only way that I could help myself overcome the deep-seated selfishness that had ruled me throughout my life.
In doing Step Four, I began to see what I needed to see in order to confront the self-deception that had hurt me and those around me, particularly my wife and children. As I admitted the exact nature of my personal wrongs to myself, I was able to feel my lifelong self-idolatry begin to fall away. It felt like God was helping me to set myself aside and make other people more important than me. In doing this, I surrendered 51 years of misguided assumptions that had made me think that I was invincible, entitled and important. My alcoholism proved to me that I had lived in a self-imposed delusion. I had been trying to rule myself, rule my family and rule my world, all in the name of being the “leader” in my home.
As I admitted these things to myself, I accepted myself at my worst for the first time in my life. As I accepted myself at my worst, I began to know grace as only God can give it. This new grace is more than just a subject I had heard about in church. It is a real world, here and now. It is an overpowering, and sometimes painful, movement toward honesty. I first noticed it when I sat alone in rehab, crying uncontrollably. That day, amidst the pain that I was experiencing, God’s grace helped me to have a sense that things were going to change and that I would get the help that I had been too afraid to seek.
I know that I don’t deserve the goodness that has taken hold of me. As I have become honest about my character shortcomings, I have been able to surrender a battle that I had been losing all of my life. The more explicit and honest I have been with myself, the more effective my repentance has been. And, I have found an energy that gives me the stamina to follow the path that God gives me to travel. Without an effective path to follow and the strength that God gives me to follow it, I could never truly repent or change. I thank God for my alcoholism and for my Twelve Step journey, specifically Step Five. Getting honest with myself and learning to accept myself as someone that God is willing to work with has been a turning point in my life. Letting go of my self denials has not only helped me to quit drinking, but helped me to become a new kind of man who now brings goodness and delight to his wife and his family.
Copyright 2011, David Zailer

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Recovering a Healthy Relationship

Recovering a Healthy Relationship
with Ourselves

“But you desire honesty from the heart, so you can teach me to be wise in my inmost being.”
            Psalm 51:6 NLT

“The moral inventory is a cool examination of the damages that occurred to us during life and a sincere effort to look at them in true perspective. This has the effect of taking the ground glass out of us, the emotional substance that still cuts and inhibits.”
            - Bill Wilson

We made a searching and fearless
moral inventory of ourselves.

No matter how we may rationalize it differently, our addictions have been destroying us. Part of the insanity of addiction is how we tend to minimize the damage that our addictions do. To whatever degree that we have brought pain into the lives of other people, we must admit it. But it is likely that we are the ones who have been hurt the most by our addictions.
This section of Step Four is an attempt to see how our addictions have hurt us individually. It is important that we be as objective as possible. We are not the focus. What we are looking to do is to recognize the causes and the conditions, the thinking and believing that have promoted the growth of addiction in our lives. We look ourselves over much like we would examine a part of our body that is hurting. We do it with care, in a nurturing way. Friendly, respectful, objective detachment is one way to look at it. We don’t want to deny how we feel at any moment in time but, at the same time, this is not a sentimental journey, either.
We sift through our life, past and present, in order to identify the selfish thinking, the corrupted beliefs and the ineffective emotional maladjustments that promote our addictions. We need to understand that addictions grow because of self-centeredness. Addiction is not the cause of moral failings nor is it a moral failing in and of itself. Addiction and its subsequent moral failings are caused by spiritual and emotional longings that have gone unmet. Because of this, it is critical that we see how we have contributed to our own spiritual and emotional deprivation. For you see, our addictions take hold of us as we seek to meet needs that we cannot meet and escape pain that is too much for us to handle on our own. Sadly, in addiction, the very things that we have used to escape our pain actually increase our pain. Then, addictions grow and deepen all the more.
Most certainly, some of the pain we have experienced in life has come from other people. For now, let’s just do our best to take a non-emotional look at what these people did to us and how it made us feel. For the sake of our recovery, it’s important that we don’t judge other people’s motives. That is God’s job, after all.  He is the only One who has all the facts. We should just look at what they did, not why they did it. Let them work out their own troubles with God, just like we are doing. Any resentments that we have against others should be listed and cataloged. We will discuss them later, at the appropriate time and place.
As we move forward, God will give us courage. We will see things with a better focus. We may not be all that we thought we were. And that’s okay. Whatever we are, God says that He loves us. In time we will grow to love ourselves, too.

Getting Clearer Perceptions

·                     Describe how you feel about yourself right after you have acted out in one of your addictions.
·                     How has your addiction affected the way you think about your life and your future?
·                     Describe the pain you feel when you consider the relationships you have lost because of your addictions.
·                     How have you objectified yourself financially, sexually or emotionally?
·                     Do you remember your first sexual experience?  What was it?
·                     How have you violated your own sexual ethics?
·                     How have you been a hypocrite religiously, sexually or socially?
·                     Why and how do you feel sorry for yourself?
·                     How have you manipulated yourself with self-pity?
·                     Are you mad at yourself?  Why?
·                     How have your addictions affected the goals and plans that you had for your life?
·                     Why would you sacrifice long-term health for short-term gratification?
·                     Do you work too much?  Why?
·                     How have you exaggerated your successes?
·                     Have you ever asked yourself why you would ever do certain things? 
·                     In what ways have you repeated dangerous experiences?
·                     How and why have you minimized your addictions and your mistakes?
·                     What are you avoiding?
·                     Do you like yourself?  Why not?

Copyright 2011, David Zailer

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Decision

The Decision

“If any of you want to be my followers, you must forget about yourself. You must take up your cross and follow Me. If you want to save your life, you will destroy it. But if you give up your life for Me, you will find it. What will you gain, if you own the whole world but destroy yourself? What would you give to get back your soul?”
            Matthew 16:24-26

“To gain that which is worth having, it may be necessary to lose everything.”
            -Bernadette Devlin
We made a decision to turn our will and our lives
over to the care of God as we understood him.

It has been said that everyone will have their Waterloo. In addiction we have found ours, too. We can no longer deceive ourselves, or anyone else for that matter. Our addictions have been profound. We know it, and other people know it. Because of this, we just don’t have the energy to go on the way we’ve been going. Physically, mentally, and spiritually we’re done. It’s all over. It’s the end. It seems that we’re as good as dead. But here, when we’re at the end of ourselves, there is a calling for us. God, the giver of life, is calling for us to accept the loss of our own lives in order to accept the life that He has to give us.
The decision to surrender ourselves to God’s care is far more personal and practical than religious. We surrender our will and life to God because if we continue to live as we have, our addictions will destroy us. We’ve simply come to understand that God is a life-or-death decision for all of us. And today, each of us decides whether we are willing to trust God or continue our journey alone. Failing to trust leaves us spiritually alone and unprotected against our own progressing addictions. This is a potentially fatal mistake for anyone who has an addiction.
When we decide to trust God, we are not making a religious decision, although many religions encourage us to do this as well. You see, it’s not religion that we need. If religion was the answer for our addictions, those of us who came from religious backgrounds would never have had the addictions that we’ve had. What we really need is intimacy with God. Intimacy with God is far more personal than religious. It is an intimacy that transcends all that we are as human beings. Intimacy with God puts God inside of us. It makes us bigger than what we could ever be on our own. We call it a surrender because we can’t be exactly sure how this intimacy with God will affect us. But while we may not know exactly how God and His goodness will play out in our lives, we do know that it will be far better than staying in our addictions.
Ultimately, all of us will stand before God with their future literally in their own hands, making their life decision for themselves in their own personal way. Some recovering addicts, when they made their decision to trust their life to God, experienced immediate and profound gratitude with dramatic emotional outbursts. Others experienced only a quiet sense of relief that their life would change. Whatever the experience is for us as individuals, each of us must understand that it is far better to make the decision to surrender and trust than continue on the way we were going. We know that we must have God’s help and we have decided to ask for it.
As we make the decision to surrender our lives to God, let’s pray in ways that are personal and intimate. Let’s pray like this:

Dear God,
Only You are God and I am not. You are the Maker and Fulfiller of life. As for me, I know that I originate from You, that I exist because of You. Today, I make the decision to give myself to You, the best I know how. You own me, as far as I am concerned. I am Yours. I give You my old life and I ask for You to give me Your life. You can do with me anything You want to do. Now there are times when I get deceived and I become distracted from You. When I do, I feel that You are far away and I am hurt, from the inside out, when I sin. But, according to Your Word and Your promises, I know that You are always with me. Only You can save me from my addictions and my sins, renewing me in the center of my soul, my will. You protect me, You save me, You transform me. I thank You for the changes in me that You have promised. I want to be more of Yours. I seek You, and by Your grace I am finding and knowing You. It is my desire to know You more intimately and to more effectively live out the life You have for me. Amen
Copyright 2011, David Zailer

Friday, October 21, 2011

When The Blind See

When The Blind See

“As Jesus was leaving town, trailed by his disciples and a parade of people, a blind beggar by the name of Bartimaeus, son of Timaeus, was sitting alongside the road. When he heard that Jesus the Nazarene was passing by, he began to cry out, ‘Son of David, Jesus! Mercy, have mercy on me!’ Many tried to hush him up, but he yelled all the louder, ‘Son of David! Mercy, have mercy on me!’ Jesus stopped in his tracks. ‘Call him over.’ They called him. ‘It's your lucky day! Get up! He's calling you to come!’ Throwing off his coat, he was on his feet at once and came to Jesus. Jesus said, ‘What can I do for you?’ The blind man said, ‘Rabbi, I want to see.’ ‘On your way,’ said Jesus. ‘Your faith has saved and healed you.’ In that very instant he recovered his sight and followed Jesus down the road.”
            Mark 10:46-52 The Message

"It's really very simple, either God is going to save me, or I'm screwed."
            -Robert Orman

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

Enmeshed into and promoting all addictive behaviors is a self-defeating and destructive way of thinking. It’s the way that we’ve seen ourselves and life as a whole that has been the problem. This includes inaccurate and distorted personal beliefs and self-centered agendas that send us time and again into insane activities. With this in mind, we can begin to see that our problems are deeper than our behaviors; our problems are how we perceive ourselves and life as a whole.
We all can change the outside of our lives temporarily, but changing the insides has been impossible up to now. As we get honest about our addictions, we can begin to see that some of the most pervasive damage done to us has been the result of a way of thinking that was closed-minded, selfish, and chronically frustrated and negative. At best our lives have been a groping around in darkness. At times we would see something that we thought would help us, and grasped for it only to find that it was nothing more than a vapor or a shadow. Life was always getting worse, never better. We were dying a little more every day. God wants to change all this.

In Mark 10:46-52 we read about a blind man who encountered Jesus and came away having had his blindness healed. This blind man, whose name was Bartimaeus, can be our guide as to how we, too, can find our blindness of perspectives healed and made whole by God. Bartimaeus’ blindness was apparently physical, where ours is more a spiritual and psychological blindness. But the principles that we need to apply to our lives are the same. Bartimaeus, when he heard that Jesus was coming down the road, abandoned his place, and in “throwing off his coat” made a mad dash to seek out Jesus. It seems that Bartimaeus was hungry and desperate for healing. This desperate hunger, along with a hopeful belief that it was possible for Jesus to help him, caused him to take decisive action. Bartimaeus’ belief in the possibility that his life could be made whole drew an amazing affirmation from Jesus himself. Jesus said, "Your faith has saved and healed you."
This is what it can be like for us. As we come to believe that it is possible for our lives to be different, God, working through others, can heal us, giving us renewed sight to see perspectives of sanity and health. Our lives will be different. We can be healed. We will be healed. Most likely it will not be an instantaneous healing like our friend Bartimaeus had, but a healing restoration of sanity nonetheless. Most often the healing we experience will be a developing process where our spiritual eyesight improves over time. As we seek out the help that God provides, we will—one day at a time—experience increasing clarity of thinking and a growing sense that our future will be bright, happy, joyous and free. Furthermore, as we accept the friendship of the blind man and as we place our hope in Jesus, we come to believe that God loves to heal the blind.
Copyrigth David Zailer, 2011

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Your Biggest Problem Is You

Your Biggest Problem is You

“It's the way you've lived that's brought all this on you. The bitter taste is from your evil life. That's what's piercing your heart.”
            Jeremiah 4:18 The Message

“If, instead of failing, the person temporarily succeeds in stopping the addictive behavior, the greatest mind trick of all comes into play. It starts out very normally, with the natural joyfulness of liberation. ‘I can do it! I have done it! And it wasn’t even that difficult! Why, I actually don’t even have any desire for a drink anymore. I’m free!’ Before long, the natural joy will undergo a malignant change; it will be replaced by pride.”
            - Gerald G. May, M.D.

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

Many of us have had the painful experience of having our weaknesses exposed and then being punished for those weaknesses. As a result, we’ve often developed a protective veneer of polite and subtle dishonesty. We usually don’t lie outright, we just don’t tell the truth about ourselves when we should. For us to admit that we were powerless over our addiction and that our life was unmanageable meant admitting defeat.  And it was.  We were defeated by our addictions whether we admitted it or not.
Admitting a personal defeat is counter to everything most of us have been taught. Culturally, in very subtle ways, we are brought up to be people who are determined, self-sufficient and strong. But, in the revealing light of addiction there is one absolutely essential question that needs to be answered: Are you going to recognize and are you willing to admit that your addictions are more powerful than you are? 
For most of us, our upbringing instilled in us the instinct to try harder when we failed, and that we should never admit defeat, discouragement or weakness. This often turns into a stubbornness that can lead people with addictions into a continuous downward spiral of pride and failure and control. The more we’ve been determined to control ourselves, the more we failed. By refusing to admit our personal insufficiency, we pridefully puffed ourselves up and became determined to control ourselves better the next time. When we failed again, which was almost certain, we became all the more obsessed to control our life and the lives of others. Inevitably, the obsession to rule our life and the lives of others brought on more pride, which brought more failure, and addiction ruled all the more. Pride, failure and control are the building blocks of denial, which is the pride based bedrock of addiction. In denial and pride, our self–willed efforts to control our lives and others become one of our greatest liabilities. 
So, we have to be willing to admit that we have been defeated by our addictions if we are going to recover from them. As counterintuitive as it appears to be, when we admit our powerlessness it becomes possible for us to transcend our powerlessness because we become open to solutions that we could not see through the eyes of denial and pride. When we get honest about our powerlessness it becomes possible for us to find solutions to the problems that we could not solve on our own. It’s not like we become stronger; it’s more like we are infused with a strength that is made available to us when we get honest. The power does not come from us. It comes from outside of us but connects with us on the inside. With this outside power coming in to us we get lifted up, from the bottom up. As we admit our addictions and powerlessness, we become part of a movement of change that is bigger than our own efforts could ever be. We move into solution. The cycle of pride, failure and control gets interrupted. Failures are no longer as fatal as they once were. When honest about them, our failures can become a small step sideways and not the inevitable free fall to the bottom that they were before.
We don’t need to make promises in our admissions and confessions. We just tell the truth about ourselves, the best we know how to do. We say it like it is. After all, we are only human. There is great dignity and freedom in being honestly human. 
Copyright 2011, David Zailer

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Destiny Arrives and We Show Up

Destiny Arrives and We Show Up

"Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious - the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies."
            Philippians 4:8-9 The Message

"Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery that it is. In the boredom and pain of it no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace."
            - Frederick Buechner

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.

None of us ever meant to get addicted to anything. We didn’t ask for it, and we didn’t intend it. In the beginning, addiction was the last thing we ever thought would happen to us. But, nonetheless, we got addicted anyway. In the end, no matter how naive or innocent we might have been, we have had to confess that our addictions have been deeply rooted in our bad thinking and our lack of a real faith in God. We now know how a lack of authentic faith and bad thinking go hand in hand.
Recovery became possible for us when we admitted our need and began to accept the help that God made available. Making this confession helped us hope for a better life than the one we had known in the past. We began to see that God had bigger and better plans for us than we did. Following His plan, both our addictions and our healing became a pathway. They became like stepping-stones to a revolutionary kind of personal transformation that we never could have envisioned when we first started our journey. And along the way, we receive much more than we ever could have expected or anticipated. We have been changed on the inside. We have learned things that no book could ever teach us. We have gained insights and had experiences that we could never get in any classroom or from any other person, either. There is a new presence and reality within us and it is more than our senses can identify, more than our physical bodies can contain and very, very much more than we can ever explain. We have God’s Spirit working inside of us and through us.
The way we experience recovery is a unique and personalized gift from God. We receive it and experience it on an individual and personal basis. It is a redemption that is deeply intimate between God and us, together, just the two of us, connecting and being close. This is why none of us will ever have the exact same experience in recovery or with God. And while we all have our own intimate encounter with God, the recovery experience He gives is not ours to keep for ourselves. We must be willing to share it if we want to keep it long-term. And as we share our experience with others, we will discover that we have much more in common than we ever realized before. This is how God expands and multiplies the intimate life He has shared with us.
Copyright 2011, David Zailer