Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Are you complacent or overconfident?

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

I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection! But I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ Jesus saved me for and wants me to be. No, dear brothers and sisters, I am still not all I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing. Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven.
- Philippians 3:12-14, NLT

“As an insurance against “big-shot-ism” we can often check ourselves by remembering that we are sober today only by the grace of God and that any success we may be having is far more His success than ours.” - Alcoholics Anonymous, page 92, The Twelve and Twelve

Complacency and Overconfidence

We do our recovery work everyday because our addictions threaten us everyday. They never take a day off. Looking back, we’ll see that we’ve never really known when or how our addictions might strike. How many times have we found ourselves suffering a bout of addictive self-destruction and at the same time asking ourselves how did this happen again, what did I do wrong this time? Usually, the answer to this question was not that we did something wrong, but it was because we were not doing the simple but essential things that keep us from the slippery slopes of relapse.

Complacency and overconfidence are probably the most common reasons why people relapse. This is why we need to guard ourselves against pride, arrogance and overconfidence. We need to stay in close honest contact with our sponsors, our counselors and our recovery partners in order to keep our heads clear and free from the complacency and overconfidence that is so dangerous to us. As we humbly accept and admit our failures, our failures will increase our motivation for change and growth. As we maintain the habit of continuously sharing the good, the bad and the ugly parts of our lives, we will continue to become the men and the women that we have always wanted to be.

On our bad days, we tend to think about our failures. On our good days, we tend to think about our successes. But, on our best days, we tend not to think about ourselves at all because we are too busy thinking about God and other people.

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Our Journey home - Insights and Inspirations for Christian Twelve Step Recovery
By David Zailer
Copyright 2011, Homecoming Books

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

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

This is how I want you to conduct yourself in these matters. If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God. - Matthew 5:24, The Message

“If you want to lift yourself up, lift someone else up.”
- Booker T. Washington

Actions Speak Louder than Words

As we start to make our amends, we should make every attempt to offer ourselves to others in a sensitive and thoughtful way. We need to deeply consider the thoughts and feelings of others. Let us make the commitment to speak wholehearted words of grace and compassion. Where in the past we have shown disregard and selfishness, today let us reflect the image of God’s love. In recovery and making amends, it is our job to honor others and to give back to them what we have taken away. We should acknowledge to others that they never deserved to be treated the way we treated them. They deserved better. It is vitally important that we come right out and tell them that we want to make things right and that our restitution begins with a change in our attitude toward them, reflected by the way we interact with them in the future. Our message is simple: Today we see things differently. We are less important; God and other people are more important.

There may be times when we feel like people are out to get us. Maybe they are and maybe they aren’t. (We are, after all, not the only ones who are susceptible to resentment and who sometimes want revenge.) When we are willing to be open-minded about the attacks we perceive from others, it’s likely that we will see that these attacks were aimed at our addictive thinking, our selfish actions and our sin, not really at us. So, when we feel attacked, let’s do our best not to defend ourselves. If we have done something to warrant an attack from another person, we can apologize and ask what we can do to make things right. Then, above all else, let us change our actions. Actions really do speak louder than words.

Building healthier relationships with others requires that we address the ways that we have harmed ourselves, and as we begin to make amends to ourselves we will begin to create the necessary spiritual momentum that helps to move us forward in making amends to others. Many of us needed to make changes in our eating and exercise habits (or lack thereof). When we had hurt ourselves financially, we faced it and with the help of our sponsors and counselors, we made the changes that were necessary for us to begin developing financial integrity. When we had hurt ourselves emotionally, we talked it over with others. Sometimes we even wrote ourselves letters, addressing them to ourselves at specific ages from our childhood. Sometimes, sitting in front of a mirror, we privately read these letters to ourselves. We always read these letters to our sponsors, to our counselors and even to some of the people in our recovering fellowship. Following the example of others, we learned to give ourselves grace and understanding because we realize now that no one has it all together except for Jesus.

Recovery is not a straight line from Point A to Point Z. No matter how good or how bad things get, one thing is for sure: things are going to change.
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Our Journey home - Insights and Inspirations for Christian Twelve Step Recovery
By David Zailer
Copyright 2011, Homecoming Books

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Poison of Resentment

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

For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:14, 15, NIV

Don’t carry a grudge. While you’re carrying the grudge, the other guy’s out dancing. - Buddy Hackett



The Poison of Resentment

It is very important that we keep our focus, remembering that we are working our own recovery program and not someone else’s. Our faults are our responsibility and the faults of others are not our concern. Our recovery necessitates that we recognize that while others have accidentally and even sometimes intentionally harmed us, any resentments that we entertain against them will handicap us spiritually and emotionally. Resentment poisons our hearts. Then it circulates into every part of our lives. It’s like taking poison and expecting someone else to get sick and die.

When we hold a grudge against someone else, we are actually bringing misery back onto ourselves. Resentment creates a kind of attitudinal foul odor that keeps others from getting close to us. Resentment can be intoxicating, and then we get hijacked by unhappiness which further alienates us from others. But, honestly recognizing the hurt others have done to us and giving those offenders our undeserved forgiveness will help to cleanse us from the stagnating resentment that will destroy us. Allowing others the freedom to be wrong helps us to see life, most notably our own life, more clearly. We will be better able to objectively acknowledge and embrace our shortcomings as well as our strengths. Thinking and living this way is a relational kind of humility that frees us to receive God’s strength coming to us through the holes that our weaknesses create, which then results in an increased freedom to love other people without barriers. As we learn to care for others, both the good and the bad, we learn to better care for ourselves with increasing aptitude and insight as a child of God. Forgiving others and being forgiven go hand in hand. We can’t have one without the other.


Our Journey home - Insights and Inspirations for Christian Twelve Step Recovery
By David Zailer
Copyright 2011, Homecoming Books

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Source of Our Strength

We humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him. And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for. I John 5:14,15, NLT

A great turning point in our lives came when we sought for humility as something we really wanted, rather than as something we must have. It marked the time when we could commence to see the full implication of Step Seven. - Alcoholics Anonymous, page 75, AA 12 & 12


The Source of Our Strength

We have, albeit unintentionally, created the problems that we have in our character. Now we are asking God, with as much humility as possible, to resolve the problems that stand in the way of us experiencing all that God has for us. Before, we had spent much of our lives and energy attempting to overcome what we could never overcome in our own power. But today, as we surrender our lives to God and humbly ask Him to remove our shortcomings, we discover a strength that is unlike anything that we have ever encountered before. Only in God, and through the help of others, will we receive the strength and the endurance to continuously let go of our character defects and our addictions.

Nothing in our recovery work is magical or unreal. We will forever be human and prone to all of our human inadequacies. As much as we may wish it to be different, not all of our character defects will be removed from us. The work that God is doing in our hearts and minds will be part of His overall purposes. So, we will help ourselves the most when we accept the consequences that we have created for ourselves without complaint so that we can enjoy the benefit of lessons learned once and for all.

There will be times when we try to get rid of our character defects and fail, sometimes repeatedly. We will inevitably find ourselves in situations where we have to choose between trusting God amidst our repeated attempts of trying and failing, and the certain penalty of failing to try, which is in and of itself a failure to trust God. What we choose to do with failure is perhaps the most profound indicator of who we are and who we will become. Failure with effort can be a frustrating setback. The setbacks and disappointments create the sad feeling inside of us that we may never overcome our problems. This is where we will need help from our friends in recovery and from God himself. We will have our setbacks. We will try and fail sometimes. But, let us stay honest and let us stay motivated because our own fatal failure is giving up. Failure to try is suicide. It is here, in our failures and setbacks, that we learn to keep turning to God, time after time, and in so doing we learn to experience Him to be our Source, our Strength and our Joy.
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Our Journey home - Insights and Inspirations for Christian Twelve Step Recovery
By David Zailer
Copyright 2011, Homecoming Books