Monday, December 16, 2013

FACING THE FACTS - from OUR JOURNEY HOME

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!
An excerpt from OUR JOURNEY HOME, Copyright 2011, David Zailer

TRUE FORGIVENESS - from When Lost Men Come Home

TRUE FORGIVENESS

True forgiveness can only be given and received; it cannot be earned or demanded. True forgiveness does not condone, excuse or minimize wrongdoing. True forgiveness looks directly at the wrong and wrongdoer, knowing full well the impact of the wrongdoer’s actions, recognizes them for who and what they are, and offers the offender the mercy and grace of a restored, but changed relationship. Both giving and receiving forgiveness is an act of humility. People who really forgive look upon others, even the most disturbing, and see them as someone whom God loves and cares for. People who forgive honor God by honoring all people with esteem, respect and love, no matter how undeserving they may be.

This does not mean that all our relationships with others will be as they were before. In all likelihood, our relationships with others, while hopefully reconciled, will be changed forever due to boundaries, which other people will require as we move back into relationship with them. We may never again experience the freedom with them we had before. We may never enjoy certain relationships as we have enjoyed them in the past. We may never again have the unmitigated trust of our families. Others, for understandable reasons, will set boundaries on us. It is important we recognize these limits are a direct result of the pain and hurt we have caused. We are responsible
for our pain and for making things right wherever we can. We should accept these limitations respectfully. We respect the lives of others in the same way we hope to be respected in the future.

It is not until we love a person in all his ugliness that we can make him beautiful, or ourselves either.


Frederick Buechner, The Magnificent Defeat pg 42

At times, I struggled to forgive those who had hurt me, so I prayed for them. I found praying for them helped me to move beyond the resentments that blocked my growth and recovery. I prayed God would give them hope for their life, help for their difficulties, grace for their struggles, and courage to live abundantly. I prayed for them in the same way I prayed for myself. As I prayed for others in this way, I realized that any entitlement I felt about others forgiving me made any forgiveness I receive meaningless. Entitlement reduces forgiveness to foul, codependent, shallow and graceless appeasement. And I am sure you will agree with me that this is not what we want. Feeling appeased will not help us recover. We need to recover from our addiction, and helping others heal from the damage we caused is our responsibility — regardless of any damage, others may have done to us. Period!

 

Now you can have sincere love for each other as brothers and sisters because you were cleansed from your sins when you accepted the truth of the Good News. So see to it that you really do love each other intensely with all your hearts.


I Peter 1:22 MSG



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


Philippians 2:3 MSG



And just as others may place boundaries for us, we may need to establish boundaries for others. When others have done inexcusable things to us, we need to recognize these things for the inexcusable things they are. We should discuss them with our sponsor and our counselor. Their guidance will give us needed insight to make important decisions about what kind of relationships we want and what kind of boundaries need to be in place so our relationships will be safe and sane and healthy going forward.


We need not ever excuse inexcusable acts that people may do, but we do need to forgive people because forgiveness is essential for life. This is essential for both offender and victim to have a healthier and happier life ahead. For our part, we must be careful not to ask God or others for "forgiveness" when we are really asking to be excused for our wrongdoing. Wrongdoing is not an accident. Accidents can be excused, but selfish people who do selfish things need forgiveness. Sincerely asking for forgiveness is an act of repentance. And repentance does not debate, it does not bargain, and it never rationalizes or makes excuses. When confronted about our wrongdoing, we never dispute the facts. We let the charges and criticisms be what they are. Asking for forgiveness

Occasionally, the anger and resentment I felt for this person come back. But today I diligently work to let go of any remaining resentment I feel. While I have no real relationship with this person, today my attitude toward him, myself, and my family history has radically improved. I am much more honest about how things were for me growing up. I no longer make excuses for my family or for myself. Things simply were the way they were and they are the way they are. My hope is that someday things may change between this person and myself, that we can have a healthy family relationship. I also hope this person will one day see that my life and values are worth appreciating. However, moving forward and trusting God’s plan for my life, I remind myself that this person’s attitude toward me is none of my business. It is between him and God. I can hope for forgiveness but I am never entitled to it.
 

This is an excerpt from WHEN LOST MEN COME HOME, not for men only  ~ Copyright David Zailer, 2011


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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

I was that desperate.

One day I woke up to realize my illusions - and delusions - were killing me. I gave them up, surrendered them. I think the Scriptural reference is "died to myself." But it had nothing to do with personal or moral virtue or excellence. I chose to allow my illusioned delusioned self to die, so that something else, whatever that might be, could live. I was that desperate.
D. Zailer

Monday, December 9, 2013

Operation Integrity 2013 Year End Update


Operation Integrity 2013 Year End Update                            
 

With deep gladness, I present to you the Operation Integrity year-end update for 2013. This past year brought significant growth, much of which was unplanned opportunities. True to our mission, we spent 2013 passionately working to help people recover from addiction, leading to radical life transformation.

·        Operation Integrity fellowships continue helping men, women and families, escape the destructive behaviors and isolation of addiction, moving toward honest and transparent relationships — Coast Hills Church, Lifelines at The Crossing Church, Capistrano Beach Church, all in California, along with Center City Church in Springfield MO and Tree of Life Church in Fairmont West Virginia host OI fellowships. And we mentor other fellowships in Irvine and Los Angeles, California, Atlanta Georgia, Abilene Texas, Tuscaloosa Alabama, and Sacramento California.

·        We continue mentoring private recovery meetings across the U.S. and beyond, our literature bringing understanding where there had been confusion and anger. And this past year we have assisted in the launch of 3 new private recovery groups for pastors and clergy.

·        Our books, Our Journey Home and When Lost Men Come Home, not for men only are making a difference in the lives of addicted men and women, and their families.

·        We are providing affordable recovery programs through our 45 Day Intensive & 90 Day Transformation programs; collaborating with counselors, therapists, churches, and treatment centers.

·        I have been speaking locally and around the U.S. — leading Operation Integrity gatherings and conferences in Fairmont West Virginia and southern California, with more scheduled for 2014.

·        Operation Integrity was in Leadership Magazine, Envision Magazine, Christianity Today, Covenant Eyes, Power for Living, and the Healing for The Soul Herald.

·        We are helping Pastors and Clergy in Ohio, West Virginia, North Carolina, Oklahoma, California, Michigan, Wisconsin, Colorado, Texas and Canada, The United Kingdom, Greece, Australia, Croatia and Uganda. We have also adjusted our clergy assistance program to benefit counselors and therapists continue their personal growth and recovery amidst the overwhelming demands of their jobs.

·        Operation Integrity continues in Katharos Integrity Alliance, sharing resources and experience with similar ministries from around the U.S.

·        Operation Integrity Weekly is emailed to more than 3700 people each week.

 
Real People Results
 
Twice weekly I meet with a 42 year-old husband to be. This wonderful young man has been a leader in service at his church and in his profession, but struggled with addiction to alcohol, marijuana and pornography since adolescence. Keeping his struggle secret — he lived hijacked and alone for 25 years, his addiction threatening his future marriage, his career, and his relationship with the church he called home. Operation Integrity is giving him the help he needed, bringing him education, community, counseling, mentoring, and support. Today he is alcohol, drug, and porn free, his relationship with his fiancĂ©e and church is healing, his Christ-empowered freedom spreading throughout his life. His recovery is a living example to his church and others how a personal — not to be confused with religious — relationship with Christ is foundational, and that effective real world education, community, and counseling are indispensable in bringing deep healing to addicted people. This is just one example of how Operation Integrity is changing lives, there are hundreds more.

 Heading Into 2014

Already our plans have grown for 2014. Here is a short list of recent new opportunities — this list is sure to grow.

·       We will consult for a feature length Christ-centered film on how pornography plays a role in human trafficking and sexual slavery.

·       We have booked two full presentations with large churches in southern California where Operation Integrity will provide informational and inspirational communication on the reality of addiction in the lives of Christians and how we can help each other heal. We have already booked travel plans for early 2014 that need immediate funding.

·       Operation Integrity will host the annual Katharos Integrity Alliance Summit. Ministry leaders from around the U.S. will travel here to enjoy our weather, scenery and the leadership OI offers to other ministries.
 
How You Can Be A Part
 
We started our fund raising efforts early this year because of the unexpected expansion in our work, but we still need to raise $29,000.00 to finish 2013 on target, and give us a healthy start for 2014. I ask that you financially support our efforts. (Your donation to Operation Integrity is tax deductible.) I thank you personally in advance for your contributions, and most of all I thank you for your ongoing support through prayer.

There are two convenient ways you can financially support Operation Integrity.
 
1. Visit us at www.operationintegrity.org to make a donation.
2. Mail your check to Operation Integrity,
                                   24040 Camino del Avion #A115
                                   Monarch Beach CA 92629

Yours in Christ and recovery,

 
David Zailer
Executive Director
info@operationintegrity.org
1-800-762-0430

Follow Operation Integrity on Facebook, & Twitter @opintegrity

 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

READY AND LISTENING - from OUR JOURNEY HOME

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.
 
An excerpt from OUR JOURNEY HOME, Copyright 2011, David Zailer

FACING FEELINGS - from WHEN LOST MEN COME HOME

FACING FEELINGS

Many of us have held deep anger and resentment against certain people who were hurt by the actions of our addicted life. For years, I resented a person who could have stopped the abuse I suffered as a child. For reasons I may never know, this person chose to do nothing when he could have protected me — a small child. The anger I felt for him was so deep I did not even realize I felt the way I did. I repressed my rage as I grew older, and my addictions increased along with my rage. I became rude and thoughtless toward others, including, of course, the person who ignored my needs. My rage blinded me, making it impossible for me to see how I had hurt this person and others close to him. Even though this person and I lived in separate parts of the country, my addictions and selfishness brought pain and hurt into his life, as well as my own.  I can no longer side-step my feelings. I had to confront the feelings of anger I felt against this person, so, with help from others, I did. Even though the wrongs this person did to me far exceeded what I had done to him, I could no longer hold his wrongs against him if I was going to heal from my addictions. So I got in touch with him. I apologized to him for my actions, and offered to do whatever I could do to repair the hurt I had caused him. As heartbreaking as it is, today many years later, this person has never acknowledged the abandonment and pain he caused me, and I sadly suspect he never will. Nevertheless, his refusal to acknowledge his lack of care for me as a young child is none of my business today. I forgive him today and every day, not because he is innocent or because he deserves forgiveness. I forgive him so that I can recover and move on from the damage he did to me.

 Occasionally, the anger and resentment I felt for this person come back. But today I diligently work to let go of any remaining resentment I feel. While I have no real relationship with this person, today my attitude toward him, myself, and my family history has radically improved. I am much more honest about how things were for me growing up. I no longer make excuses for my family or for myself. Things simply were the way they were and they are the way they are. My hope is that someday things may change between this person and myself, that we can have a healthy family relationship. I also hope this person will one day see that my life and values are worth appreciating. However, moving forward and trusting God’s plan for my life, I remind myself that this person’s attitude toward me is none of my business. It is between him and God. I can hope for forgiveness but I am never entitled to it.

This is an excerpt from WHEN LOST MEN COME HOME, not for men only  ~ Copyright David Zailer, 2011


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Monday, November 11, 2013

JERRY GETS HONEST WITH HIMSELF - from OUR JOURNEY HOME

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


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EMBRACING THE WORLD AROUND ME - from WHEN LOST MEN COME HOME

EMBRACING THE WORLD AROUND ME


My sponsor consistently spoke to me about my social and relational responsibilities, which meant working to repair the damage and hurt my addicted life had caused other people. It has always been and always will be our responsibility to initiate peace and healing in relationships. With this in mind, I began the work of helping others recover from pain I caused them, pain they did not ever deserve. And, my sponsor also told me, the best way for me to continue my own recovery work was to help others, especially those who have been hurt by me and my addictions.
 
Making amends is not easy. Any recovering sex addict will tell you that making amends is very challenging work. It can be complicated too, because we may face situations where we need to make amends to people who deeply resent us. As much as we would like to have one, there is no magic wand in recovery or in making amends. If we go looking for a magic wand, we will lose ourselves to a world of fantasy and make-believe. Recovery only happens in the real world. If we really want to recover, we will be willing to live in the real world. Making amends is not optional.
 
God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.
Matthew 5:9 NLT

 This is an excerpt from WHEN LOST MEN COME HOME, not for men only  ~ Copyright David Zailer, 2011


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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

RECOVERING A HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP WITH OURSELVES - from OUR JOURNEY HOME

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

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NEW DISCOVERIES - from When Lost Men Come Home, not for men only

NEW DISCOVERIES

I realized some amazing things as I made a list of the people harmed by my addictions. I came to grips with how amazing it was that I was ever loved by anyone, considering the selfish ways I treated other people. I saw that — when I came face-to-face honestly with the truth of my addictions — I wasn’t loved because I deserved it, but because God and others saw me from a perspective of love. This made me value my relationships like a precious gift. Now, with every ounce of diligent response-ability I can muster, I view others lovingly, as others have done for me.
Caring for others respectfully in this way — with love-centered actions — I will hope that love will be given back to me, but I won’t need to be upset if it’s not. My truest God-given desire is to just pass along the love I receive from God and others. So, moving through any fear of rejection I may feel, I live my life differently than I had in the past. I care for others as I would like them to care for me — just as God, my sponsor and counselor have done for me.
"Until you conquer the fear of being an outsider,
an outsider you will remain."
C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory pg 154

We set realistic boundaries for ourselves, and we accepted boundaries others placed on us. First, we became willing to make amends to others. Real hope for reconciliation requires that we be willing to make our amends unconditionally. Second, we became willing to accept healthy limitations and to make living amends by the way we relate to others in the future. There is little value in professing good intentions. There is much greater value when we live our lives in healthy socially responsible ways, letting the authenticity of our changing life speak for us. If we refuse the opportunity to right a wrong, we shut the doors and windows of the spiritual home God is building within us. Nothing gets in, nothing gets out. Darkness closes in and we miss the leading of God’s Spirit. We simply create more of the chaos that we are trying to avoid.
It’s quite easy to agree intellectually with the facts of our wrongdoing, to look past our mistakes and not be responsive to the hurt others feel because of us. Intellectualizing our lives disconnects us from feeling our emotions. It blocks our ability to connect with others. It reduces our amends to little more than a narcissistic continuation of the selfishness we claim we want to be free of. A recovering man, however, moves from his head to his heart and from his heart to his feet, where reconciliation with others is made step-by-step. With our feet placed firmly on God and within a fellowship of support and accountability, we find stability to live response-ably. As we are willing to accept responsibility for our life, good and bad, we are better able to know ourselves like God knows us. As we’re willing to know and own ourselves, both good and bad, we will live in reality, the place where God lives.

By the time I was an adult, my resentments had rooted so deeply that I was no longer consciously aware I felt the way I did. My anger had become internalized, fueling the fires of my addictions. One day in a counseling session my counselor had me read something written by someone in their early recovery. By the time I read the third sentence I broke in tears, and it took me several minutes to compose myself. Waiting patiently, the counselor asked me what I was feeling. The only response I could give her was that I had been waiting all of my life for the freedom these words expressed. Later that day I went home and wrote the following.

"I survived childhood physical, emotional and sexual abuse. But now, I no longer consider myself a victim. With God’s help, a change has come over me — my attitude is different. No longer do I need to destroy myself or others with anger and hate. I don’t need to entertain thoughts of revenge. God knows what happened. He knows all the facts. He knows the truth. He will make the correct judgments and punishments as He sees fit and according to His mercy. He will be just. I leave it in His hands.

I will not be judged for what happened to me, but I will be judged by how I let it affect my life and how my life affects others. I am responsible for my actions, for what I do with what I know. I am not to blame for what happened to me as a child. I cannot change the past, but as God is my strength, I can change my future and I can assist others with their future. I have chosen to be healed and to take full advantage of the opportunities to be healed. As I heal, I choose to pass this healing onto my children, my family and to others. The ripples of healing in the pond of my life will spread throughout future generations."
 
This is an excerpt from WHEN LOST MEN COME HOME, not for men only  ~ Copyright David Zailer, 2011


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