Monday, February 4, 2013
CHANGING THE WAY WE LIVE
We humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions, ugly parodies of community. I could go on. This isn’t the first time I have warned you, you know. If you use your freedom this way, you will not inherit God’s kingdom. But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard – things like affection for others, exuberance for life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.
Galatians 5:19–23, The Message
“A fault which humbles a man is of more use to him than a good action which puffs him up.”
- Thomas Wilson
Changing the Way We Live
It is dangerous to be unwilling to relinquish one of our character defects; it potentially sabotages our entire recovery effort. At the very least it limits our future. When we feel like we are hanging onto a character defect that we don’t want to let go of, let us admit our doubt, our fear, and the struggle and stubbornness that we know is inside of us. We admit these things to ourselves, to God and to another person. Let us pray while we admit these things, asking for God’s help starting with relieving us of the fear and the pride that weigh us down. Let us ask God to help us to let go of everything that stands between us and a closer relationship with Him.
Praying in this way assures us that we will receive what we ask for because we are praying for what we know to be God’s will for us. Knowing that God will be working in us in this way does not take away our responsibility for taking appropriate actions to deal with our character defects. We must always be people of action, effective action. When we have doubts about our conduct or character, we will find it helpful to speak with our sponsor or someone else who knows about our addictions and our desire to recover. Letting go of our character defects begins with prayer but it also includes acting and living as if God has already equipped us (and He has) to live well without them. Prayer without action is little more than mental, emotional and religious daydreaming. Our letting go of our character defects requires that we be willing to take the opposite action of the way we would act in the character defect. We reverse course, acting as if God has given us all that we need. This is called repenting in religious terms. If we want to be like Jesus, acting as if we are already becoming like Jesus is a great place to start. Over time, our honest and obedient actions will begin to change the way we think. If we want our life to change, we have to change the way we live it.